Healthful Snacking: Is It Possible?
Getting Started Snacking
- Plan ahead so that you have the desired food on hand when you need it.
- Instead of munching absentmindedly, make snacking a conscious activity.
- Choose lower-fat snacks.
- Choose nutrient-rich foods.
Smart Snack Choices
Make your own trail mix.
You can make a big batch of this trail mix in advance and keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Start with some nuts. Try peanuts, walnuts, or almonds—all good sources of protein, phosphorus, zinc, and magnesium. Throw in some dried fruit, such as cranberries, raisins, or banana chips. And finish it off with a high-fiber cereal, such as Grape Nuts, All Bran, or Raisin Bran. For a daily snack, pack about ¼ to ½ cup into a Ziploc baggie.
¼ cup trail mix = approximately 150 calories
Dip vegetable and fruit sticks into nutty goodness.
Cut up some carrot sticks, slice a few celery stalks, and cut a crisp green apple into wedges. Pack about 2 tablespoons of peanut butter or almond butter into an airtight container. When you get a chance to snack, dip away. The carrots are loaded with beta-carotene, the apple has plenty of fiber and vitamin C, and the celery provides fiber, vitamin C, and folate. Vitamins E and B6, niacin, and protein are just some of the nutrients in peanut and almond butter.
2 tablespoons peanut or almond butter = approximately 190 calories
1 medium apple, 1 large carrot, 1 celery stalk = approximately 110 calories
Add a little pizzazz to your yogurt.
Start with low-fat or non-fat yogurt and stir in granola, kashi, or another high-fiber cereal. Or top off the yogurt with sliced strawberries, kiwis, or blueberries. Yogurt is a great source of calcium and protein. The cereal gives you fiber, and the fruit packs a load of vitamin C.
½ cup low-fat yogurt = approximately 100 calories
¼ cup granola = approximately 100 calories
¼ cup berries = approximately 20 calories
Bake your own chips and add some dip.
Making your own chips is easy. Simply cut flour or corn tortillas or whole wheat pitas into triangles and bake in the oven for 5-10 minutes at 350ºF (177ºC). Sprinkle with salt and black pepper, or kick it up a notch with cayenne pepper. Your options are just about endless when it comes to a dip. You can make your own salsa by dicing up tomatoes, garlic, onion, hot peppers, and cilantro. Squeeze a little lime and salt and pepper to taste. Store-bought salsa is great, too. Guacamole is even easier. Mash an avocado with some garlic, onion, lemon, salt, and pepper. Or try some hummus, which you can find in the deli section of your grocery store.
1 ounce baked chips (about 9 chips) = approximately 100 calories
¼ cup salsa = approximately 20 calories
¼ cup guacamole or hummus = approximately 100 calories
Just say cheese.
Whether you like cheddar, Swiss, or mozzarella, a serving of cheese (1-1/2 ounce) is roughly 150 calories. Cottage cheese has even fewer calories but all the great flavor. Whichever cheese you choose, you'll get a good dose of protein, calcium, and vitamin A. Dress up your cottage cheese by adding some pineapple or peach chunks. To round off your hard cheese snack, have some sliced apple or grapes. Or, put cheese on whole-grain crackers. You can find most cheeses in reduced-fat versions.
1-½ ounces of cheddar, Swiss, or mozzarella = approximately 150 calories
1 cup 1% fat cottage cheese = approximately 160 calories
10 whole wheat crackers = approximately 100 calories
½ cup grapes = approximately 50 calories
American Dietetic Association http://www.eatright.org
Healthful School Snacks Center for Science in the Public Interest http://www.cspinet.org/nutritionpolicy/healthy%5Fschool%5Fsnacks.pdf
Canadian Council on Food and Nutrition http://www.ccfn.ca
Dietitians of Canada http://www.dietitians.ca/
American Dietetic Association website. Available at: http://www.eatright.org. Accessed on February 18, 2008.
Duyff RL. The American Dietetic Association's Complete Food & Nutrition Guide. 3rd ed. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons, Inc; 2006.
Nutrient database library. United States Department of Agriculture website. Available at: http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/search/. Accessed on February 18, 2008.