Snacks have to meet a lot of needs. The should taste good, be easy to carry and prepare, and provide the necessary nutrients. Portion size and variety in food choices is also important.
Guidelines for Healthy Snacks
- Combine 1 to 2 food groups. Healthy snacks should include some carbohydrates and a little protein.
- Low-fat snacks have 3 grams or less fat per serving. If you choose nuts, the fat content will be higher, but it's mostly unsaturated fat and can help fill you up.
- Fiber can also help you feel fuller. Eat a piece of fruit instead of having juice.
- Stay under 250 calories.
Some Snack Ideas
If you think "processed foods" when you think snacks, it's time to switch to nutritious snacks made from wholesome foods. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Eat fruit sliced or whole. Keep dried fruit to 1/4 cup. Spread 1 to 2 TBSP peanut butter, ricotta or cottage cheese on fruit, or dip fruit in nonfat yogurt. Make a smoothie with fruit and yogurt. Mix fruit with 1/3 cup nuts to make your own trail mix.
Baby carrots and cherry tomatoes are healthy. Dip them in hummus or in plain, non-fat yogurt, jazzed up with 1 to 2 TBSP Dijon mustard plus 1 to 2 tsp. dried chives. Supermarkets have pre-chopped vegetables such as peppers and broccoli.
Nuts and Seeds
Just 1/3 cup of nuts is loaded with vitamin E, monounsaturated fat, magnesium, protein, and fiber. One ounce pumpkin or sunflower seeds is an alternative to nuts.
Beans and Legumes
Try fat-free refried beans spread on a whole grain tortilla. Children often like cooked beans and chickpeas just as they are.
Cheese: Part-skim cheese sticks provide protein and calcium. Have one with 5 to 6 whole-grain crackers.
Yogurt: Fat-free plain yogurt flavored with any fruit, cereal, wheat germ and cucumbers. Use as a dip with vegetables.
Milk: 1/2 cup non- or low-fat milk with 1 cup whole grain cereal.
Whole grain crackers with peanut butter and sliced bananas or hummus and tomatoes are a balanced mini-meal.
Half a sandwich of whole grain bread, vegetables, and lean meat or fish, is the classic portable mini-meal.
Half an English muffin with tomato sauce and part skim mozzarella cheese is a healthy version of pizza.