Snacks on the go
Life can get a little hectic with everyone going in different directions and not a lot of time for big, sit-down meals. The solution is a good, healthy snack that can tide you over until you can fill up again. The trick is making snacks delicious enough that while they’re providing good, healthy fuel for your body, they still feel like a special treat.
Processed snack foods are notoriously unhealthy because they are often packed with extra fat and sodium, added sugar, and chemical preservatives. They’ll do in an emergency, but those on-the-go snacks you grab for a few times a day should ideally be ones that are good for you.
Snacks that are high in protein are a great way to keep your energy levels up during that mid afternoon slump or before you hit the gym, because the energy they provide lasts longer than carb-heavy snacks.1 Both adults and kids alike can reach for these simple and delicious protein-rich snacks:
- Nut butter boats. Cut celery into three-inch pieces, spread on your favorite nut butter, and top with raisins or almonds. If you don’t like celery, scoop the core out of half an apple and use that as your boat instead.
- DIY trail mix. Put your favorite raw nuts, seeds, and dried fruit into a small baggie. For a little extra treat throw in a few dark chocolate chips. Check out our article on nuts to find out more about these nutritional powerhouses.
- Hummus and veggies. Put a dollop of your favorite homemade hummus into the bottom of a Mason jar, then stick a handful of raw veggie sticks (carrots, celery, bell peppers) into the hummus. Close the lid and you have a personal, portable dip!
- No-bake protein balls. These taste sinful, but they’re actually a healthy little energy boost filled with rolled oats, honey, vanilla, flax seed, crunchy peanut butter (natural, if you can find it), and mini chocolate chips.
- Grape and cheese skewer. Cut up a ½-inch thick slice of cheddar cheese (about one ounce) into cubes. Alternate a grape and a cube of cheese as you slide them onto a small wooden skewer. If the snack is for small kids, simply toss the chunks of cheese and the grapes into a small baggie and forgo the skewer.
- Roasted chickpeas. If you have any chickpeas leftover after you make your hummus, roast them up into crispy, spicy, take-along treats.
According to Netty Levine, RD, CDE, a dietitian and diabetes educator at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, when it’s done right, snacking can actually be good for kids because it keeps them from overeating at mealtime.2 Pay attention to portion sizes when it comes to snacks, and try to provide non-sweet snacks (vegetables, nuts, etc.) in addition to sweeter options like fruit and protein bites so that kids don’t automatically associate snack time with sweets.
The same advice holds true for adults. Healthy grazing between meals means we’re less apt to splurge on an unhealthy lunch or dinner, or eat too much when we do finally sit down for a meal.
It’s okay to have a cookie or some potato chips every now and then – life is too short not to treat yourself, after all – but just make sure the majority of the snacks you and your kids reach for are healthy, whole foods that give your bodies the fuel they need to thrive.
For more great information and advice on how to get healthy snacks into your kids visit WebMD, and for more recipes and tips for some healthy versions of classic snacks like popcorn, nachos and even cookies, check out Reader’s Digest.
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