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SKIP THE CHIPS: STOCK UP ON NUTRITIOUS SNACKS LIKE FRUIT, VEGGIES AND YOGURT

Because of our busy schedules, we often rely on snacks to provide our bodies with essential nutrients, maintain energy levels and satisfy our hunger between meals. Here are some ideas on making snacks more healthful:

- If you choose a snack that is higher in fat, make sure your balance out the rest of the day with lower fat foods.- Keep hunger in check to avoid overeating at mealtime by carrying wholesome portable snacks with you - in your briefcase, purse, backpack or glove compartment. Consider raisins, fruit, crackers.

- At home, be sure there is ready access to wholesome snacks that need little or no preparation, such as applesauce or high-fiber cereal.

- Select snacks from food groups that are missing from meals. For example, if you do not consume dairy products at breakfast or lunch, have frozen yogurt or low-fat milk shakes for snacks.

- Include snacks that are a good source of protein and fiber - nuts mixed with dried fruit, for example.

- Have a snack before going out to dinner or to a party. It will satisfy your stomach, so you'll be less likely to overeat later.

- Here are some snack ideas to pack in lunches or have on hand:

- Take along individual boxes of ready-to-eat cereal.

- Spread peanut butter on mini rice cakes and sprinkle on raisins.

- Make your own dry snack mix (your favorite ready-to-eat cereal mixed with tiny pretzels, unsalted dry roasted peanuts and dried fruit).

- Use a plastic drinking straw to make fruit kabobs.

- Pack a mini bagel with some string cheese and a slice of rolled up turkey breast.

- Stuff a pita pocket with sliced meat, low-fat cheese or peanut butter.

- Spread chicken or tuna salad (made with low-fat dressing) on whole-wheat crackers.

- Bag up fruit like seedless grapes, kiwi halves and strawberries.

- Cut carrots, celery or jicama into sticks for a crunchy treat.

- Pack some low-fat ranch-style dressing for a zesty veggie dip.

- Add fun-to-drink boxed juices like apple juice or 100 percent juice blends.

- Try cinnamon or chocolate graham crackers.

- Consider low-fat individually packaged puddings for an easy dessert.

- Look for low-fat granola bars

- Fill celery sticks with low-fat yogurt and top with raisins.