Healthy Snacks: A Guide May 11, 2016
With your busy schedule, you may hardly have enough time to make a well-balanced dinner, let alone whip up healthy snacks to keep on hand throughout the day. The planning, shopping, and prepping that goes into making sure you’re making the right snack choices can be overwhelming. Worse, the wrong snacks can negatively impact your energy levels, your health, and maybe even your waistline.
However, snacking can serve the purpose of providing additional energy throughout the day and provide any missing nutrients not found in the larger meals (especially fruits and vegetables). Done right, it can even keep you from overeating at the next main meal of the day. Just remember to keep it healthy, and create a balance in the amounts of protein, carbs, and fiber in the snack. Here are some of our favorites:
Hungry and Busy? Try:
- Whole wheat toast with half a banana and a dash of cinnamon
- Carrots, celery, and/or bell peppers and hummus
- Fruits with nut butter
- Hard-boiled egg and cheese
- Greek yogurt with almonds
- Tuna dip with lemon and whole wheat crackers
- 4 oz low-fat chocolate milk
- Apples (or any fruit!) and yogurt
These snack ideas are simple, easy, and can be ready to eat in under 5 minutes. Moreover, they’re great in nutrition and flavor. Chocolate milk, for example, is a great source of carbs, protein, healthy fats, and a bunch of calcium. Yogurt is an excellent source of protein, B12 vitamin, calcium, and probiotics. Greek yogurt has twice the protein and typically half the sugar, if you’re looking for something new! But this is just a short list. There are plenty of great snacks out there, and here is our cheat sheet for finding delicious, quick to make, and easy snacks to grab in a pinch when hunger strikes and clouds your judgement.
New Snacks? Check the Nutrition Label:
- How many servings are in the product? Make sure you consider how many times you need to multiply calories, sugar, and sodium content if you’re going to consume the entire package.
- Select lower-sodium products, with under 400 grams of sodium per serving
- It is recommended we consume less than 12 teaspoons of sugar a day (48 grams). A snack should have fewer than 10 grams of sugar to keep you on track! Tip: If sugar is one of the first three ingredients, it probably contains too much sugar.
- Look for high-fiber products because they keep you full! Snacks should have about 4 grams of fiber or more to help you reach your goal of 20-30 grams per day.
- Choose plant-based fats (unsaturated) more frequently than animal-based fats (saturated)
Bonus: Our Favorite Snacks for the Kids:
- “Dessert” Quesadilla
- Spread a whole wheat tortilla with peanut butter and add banana slices on top. Sprinkle a little cocoa powder on top and toast it so it’s gooey. It takes 5 minutes, and it’s sure to be a crowd-pleaser.
- Ants on a Log
- Such a classic – and for good reason! Spread peanut butter on celery sticks and line up raisins on top. Serve them for your kids and their playdates!
- Cucumber Sandwiches
- No, we don’t mean the tea party treat. Up your kid’s veggie intake by substituting with cucumber slices and put cheese in between the two. Bite-size, yummy, and ready in a flash.
- Dips, dips, dips!
- Kids LOVE to dip! It’s just like playing with their food (which they also love). Put out a selection of fresh dips like hummus, salsa, guacamole, or even yogurt with a side of veggie sticks and let them go at it. Yogurt also works great with fruits like apples, melons, and strawberries.
- DIY Trail Mix
- This is a tricky one, because you need to be careful about what you put in it. Try unsalted nuts, a small portion of chocolate chips, and raw sunflower or pumpkin seeds. Even better? Make it in bulk for quick access and simple treats to pack in a lunchbox.
At the end of the day, when done right, snacking does not need to be the enemy. It can be healthy, easy, and maybe even a little fun! Keep these tips in your back pocket for a convenient snacking strategy and enjoy!