I’m looking for healthy snacks for me and my children, any suggestions?
Healthy snack ideas are a common question and for good reason. 20-30 years ago we used to eat 3 large meals, today A LOT of people eat most of their daily calories as snacks so there is a much larger opportunity to get it wrong. ‘Snack’ is becoming synonymous with little packages. It is easy to make the wrong choices because these foods are prepared for us rather than us cooking them. Many snack foods have misleading labels and health advertisements on them. Importantly, many of us ‘don’t count’ snacks as an opportunity to add needed nutrients. Our mentality is, “it’s only 100 calories per serving, so it doesn’t add much.” This is the problem! It has added nothing to your daily fiber (which most people eat way too little of), it has given you more sodium, preservatives, artificial colors, trans fat or artificial sweeteners and provided you with nothing you need. These little packages increase appetite and cravings ultimately leading us to be undernourished for the amount of calories we ate that day. Even meal replacement bars, protein powders or vitamin supplemented, packaged snacks are not “real” food. There is no way around it…you can not eat the majority of your calories as packaged food, it’s just not healthy.
Nutritionists, including myself, believe that snacks are one of the most important reasons we, and our kids, are becoming a fatter and un-healthier society. Kid’s strollers have snack trays and your grocery cart has a cup holder. It is a bad habit to eat while on the go. Food manufacturers are making it easier and easier to do it, but it is really like biting your nails. Food should not be consumed while you are distracted.
Snacks should be considered a mini-meal. Adults and children, alike, should have 3 larger meals and 2 smaller ones during the day. This is the healthiest strategy for maintaining a steady blood sugar level so that you don’t over-eat at any meal and you avoid developing cravings. At my house we call snack time “10’s-ies” and at 3pm we have the afternoon “Tay-t-tay.” We all try to sit down. Candy or dessert of any kind (doughnuts, cookies) is NOT a snack. Would you serve an individual size bag of Teddy Grahams for dinner? Okay, well then you shouldn’t serve it at your mini-meals either. A good strategy for your mini-meals is to have 2 themes. Is the theme fruit and grains? If you are serving Cheeze-Its, then the theme is salt and crap.
Here are some of my favorite snacks:
Sabra humus, Kashi TLC crackers and Gruyère cheese
Low-fat cottage cheese with green apple cubes
Sabra humus and red,yellow,orange bell pepper slices
Dried cherries and unsalted almonds
Pistachios and dried cranberries
Homemade guacamole or 5 Layer Dip (olives, guacamole, tomato, cheddar cheese, whole black or pinto beans) with Padrino’s No-Salt chips or Trader Joes brand Veggie and Flaxseed Tortilla Chips
Smoothies and plain air-popped popcorn (a whole grain)
Organic peanut butter with baby carrots, celery sticks or apple slices
There are some good pre-packaged snacks out there, but I would like you to consider changing the way you think about snacktime first. Stay tuned for Dani approved On-The Go-Snacks.