Swimming and sunbathing can work up a ravenous appetite, but what with the wind, waves, heat and just a few trillion grains of sand, sometimes the best of culinary intentions can go awry when they're brought to the beach. Cheese melts, most fruit wilts and anything egg-based won't smell too great after any length of time in the hot sun.
But that doesn't mean you have to stay hot and hangry until it's time to pack up. With some smart planning, you can pack an easy, appetizing beach spread that will tide you over until the sun goes down. The best coastal cuisine is non-melting, perfectly portable and (more or less) still edible when wet.
Read on for some smart summer snack ideas.
Tips for Smart Beach Snacking
- Nuts: Chock full of fiber and protein, nuts will keep you fueled and energized for a full day on the beach. Plus, they're low-maintenance and easily portable. Bring a medley of the classics, such as cashews, pecans, walnuts and almonds. For added sweetness, mix in some dried fruit.
- Carrots & Hummus: Curb your salty cravings, load up on filling fiber and get plenty of vitamins, without the empty calories of chips. Buy ready-made single servings of hummus at the supermarket (or make your own), pop them in the cooler and peel back the foil when you’re ready to dip. (No carrots? Bring some homemade pita chips or kale chips instead.)
- Celery with Nut Butter: Between surf sessions, your sandy sweeties will love fueling up with this fun, healthy and beach-friendly snack. Simply spread celery sticks with peanut butter or almond butter as needed. Better yet, some nut butters come in single-serve packs you can wait to open until you’re ready.
- Lettuce Veggie Wraps: No worries about soggy bread with these Swiss chard-wrapped snacks. For optimal oceanside freshness, wrap them at home in plastic wrap and bring them in a small cooler. (Non-bread sandwiches are also a great way to avoid belly bloat at the beach.)
- Watermelon Wedges: Nothing screams summer like fresh sliced watermelon—and as a bonus, they hold their shape and flavor well even in the hot sun. They're best kept in a cooler until snack time.
- Granola Bars: It doesn't get much more portable or convenient than bars. Instead of the store-bought versions, try making Coach Nicole's Chewy Oat & Nut Granola Bars—they're packed with satisfying fiber, energizing protein and kid-approved flavor.
- Dry Edamame: Who knew young green soybeans could be so satisfying? Dry roasted edamame offers a delicious flavor combined with a crispy, crunchy texture, without the excess sodium or calories of chips. Just a single half-cup serving of edamame packs 14 grams of protein and eight grams of fiber, along with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. For more ideas, explore our edamame recipes.
- Sunflower or Pumpkin Seeds: These durable, portable snacks will survive even the hottest of beach days, and kids love the novelty of them. Don't be fooled by their small size—like most seeds, they're big on vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
- Trail Mix: It's hard to beat the flavor combination and go-anywhere convenience of trail mix. Kids love the novelty of eating a bunch of yummy ingredients at once, and you'll have peace of mind knowing they're getting protein, fiber and vitamins. Instead of the high-sodium packaged versions, try making it yourself with a blend of nuts, seeds and dried fruits, with the occasional dark chocolate chip (if it’s not too hot out) for a burst of sweetness.
Now that you've got your snack list, keep your beach picnic peaceful with these tips.
Share your sand-friendly snack tips! What's your favorite food to bring to the beach, and what should be left at home?
- Bring a sun shelter. A beach tent or large umbrella will allow kids to fuel up in the cool shade.
- Don't forget hand sanitizer. Salty, sandy hands don't mix with food. Wet wipes work well, too.
- Pre-freeze bottles of water. They'll still be refreshingly cold when snack time rolls around.
- Keep it simple. Go with snacks that have few ingredients and don't require many (or any) utensils.
- Bring a plastic tablecloth or beach blanket. You won't have to worry about food or drinks staining your blankets, and can easily hose off the tablecloth or wash the blanket at the end of the day.
- Practice mindful eating. Snacking mindlessly while lounging on a chair and paging through a magazine is a surefire way to overindulge. Pay attention to how much you're consuming and stop when you're full.
- Observe food safety protocol. Foods that can spoil quickly in the sun—such as salads or casseroles, dishes with mayonnaise, cheeses and meats—should be wrapped and stored in a cooler.
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