Smart Swap: Gas Station Snacks

This weekend marked the end to what turned out to be a busy month of traveling! A couple weekends ago my friends and I made the drive to Bismark, ND for another friend’s wedding. From the Twin Cities it’s about a 7 hour drive (depending on how fast you go and how bad traffic is!). Stopping for dinner at Subway on the way there, we bopped into the adjoining gas station to load up on some snacks for later. Talk about choices! It’s been awhile since I have stopped at a gas station for snacks (or taken a long enough trip in which fuel was going to be needed for later!). I had forgotten how many additives are found in so many of the snacks we Americans consume.

Next time you find yourself at the gas staion looking for some treats for later, check out the following options for additive-free snacking!

Nuts and Trail Mixes

A lot of trail mixes contain chocolate. Now while I have absolutely nothing against chocolate, most of the chocolate found in these mixes contain partially hydrogenated oils and artificial colors (think M&Ms and their knock-offs!). And you don’t need any of that.

Another seemingly healthy ingredient in these mixes is dried fruit. Again, I have nothing against dried fruit. However, a lot of dried fruits contain partially hydrogenated oils, sulfites (to protect the color), and a lot of added sugar (fruit is sweet enough on its own if you ask me!). If you find a mix that doesn’t add partially hydrogenated oils, artificial color, or other additives to their chocolate or dried fruit, by all means, treat yourself! But if you’re having a hard time finding clean trail mixes, keep it simple. Peanuts, pistachios, cashews, almonds or a combination of nuts are almost always additive-free (make sure you read the label just in case!).


Planters Mixed Nuts and Raisins

Planters Deluxe Mixed Nuts

Planters Regular, Salted, or Honey Roasted peanuts

Planters Regular or Salted Cashews

Planters Pistachios

Other good bets: Plain sunflower seeds

Note: Oftentimes smoked nuts contain MSG (Planters Smoked Almonds contain hydrolyzed protein, another name for MSG). Check out the Additive Awareness MSG post for more on other names for MSG.

Snack Bars

Hear the words ‘granola bar’ and you think it’s gotta be healthy, right? Wrong! Unfortunately what is supposed to be a nutritious snack turns out to be nothing more than a glorified candy bar. Not to mention the plethora of junk (think artificial colorings, flavorings, preservatives, corn syrup – the list goes on!) that is often added to them.


Kashi GOLEAN or GOLEAN Crunchy! or GOLEAN Roll! Bars– Kashi is a great all-natural food brand, with lots of good options. The GOLEAN bars are the ones you’ll most likely find in a gas station, however, they also make other snack bars as well as crackers, cereals, cookies, and frozen entrees!

GoLean Crunchy! Chocolate Peanut Nutrition Facts:

Calories: 160

Fiber: 5 grams

Protein: 8 grams


KIND Bars– Another great all-natural food brand. Their Fruit and Nut bars contain just that, fruit and nuts, without any artificial ingredients. Their bars have even been featured as favorites in Self Magazine and Yoga Journal!

KIND Fruit & Nut Delight Ingredients: Mixed nuts (peanuts, almonds, brazil nuts, walnuts), dried fruit (raisins, apricots [apricot paste, glycerol (vegetable based), pectin, citrus fiber, citric acid], dates], honey, chicory fiber, non GMO glucose, puffed rice, flax seeds, soy lecithin.

Calories: 180

Fiber: 4 grams

Protein: 5 grams

Nature Valley Oats ‘N Honey Crunchy Granola Bars – Although most of Nature Valley’s other flavors and types of bars include high fructose syrup, their Oats ‘N Honey bar does not. Of all the options, this bar is the most commonly found one in gas stations.

Clif or Clif Crunch Bars – If you like Nature Valley’s crunchy granola bars and can find a Clif’s Crunch Honey Oat bar, go for this option. It’s make with 70% organic ingredients, doesn’t include high fructose corn syrup, and has an extra gram of fiber compared to Nature Valley’s bar!


Clif Crunch Honey Oat Granola Bar Ingredients: Organic Rolled Oats, Organic Dried Cane Syrup, Organic Sunflower Oil, Rice Crisp (Rice Flour, Barley Malt Extract, Dried Cane Syrup, Salt, Calcium Carbonate), Honey, Natural Flavors, Organic Barley Flakes, Organic Rye Flakes, Oat Bran, Oat Fiber, Sea Salt (Real Salt®), Inulin (Chicory Extract)

Calories: 190

Fiber: 3 grams

Protein: 3 grams

Note: Of all the options, Nature Valley and Clif bars have the least amount of fiber and protein for the amount of calories, but they are still clean choices!

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