03 February 2012

Top 9 Picks for a Healthy Snack


Yesterday, I was asked for some healthy snack ideas.  It’s easy to grab the pre-packed or vending machine snacks that are higher in calories, sodium and likely highfructose corn syrup.  But with a little forethought and preparation (cutting), you can bag these snacks in the morning to munch on in between meals.

Fruit is an obvious go-to snack that is tasty, healthy and naturally prepackaged!  But you already know that, so we won’t count it.  Given that most people aren’t eating enough vegetables, here are five that even my 4-year-old daughter liked:
1.       Carrots.  Loaded with beta carotene (plant based vitamin A, which is good for night vision, healthy teeth, skin and your immune system.)
2.       Cucumbers.  This food (peeled or not) does not offer a lot of nutritional value, but is low in calories if you are counting. 
3.       Sugar snap peas.  Excellent source of vitamin C, and pretty good for vitamin A and iron.
4.       Celery.  Not just good for fiber, but also potassium – a 1-cup serving has ½ as much potassium as a banana.  The greener stalks have more nutrients, but the lighter stalks are less stringy.
5.       Red peppers.  Sweeter than the green variety, and full of vitamin C & A.  Tip:  vegetables that are red or orange are all great sources for beta carotene.
Snacks with protein satisfy your hunger longer. 
6.       Yogurt:  14g of protein per serving, so many flavors to choose, and is a good source of calcium.
7.       Humus:  19g of protein per serving, higher in calories but also delivers iron. 
8.       Cottage cheese: 28g of protein per serving and decent source of calcium, but high in sodium if that is of concern.
9.       Almonds: 20g of protein per serving, high in fiber, calcium and iron.

Our final tip: Often thirst can be mistaken for hunger, have you had 64oz of water today?  Remember the “8 by 8 rule”?  For a refreshing twist,  try green tea which has the added benefits of antioxidants.  I steep a pot every morning to drink cold in the afternoon.  

Recommended Resources:
Easy to look up nutritional value charts for any food raw or processed (including items offer by Starbucks!) at http://nutritiondata.self.com/
Clear descriptions of the value of key vitamins, and how it’s processed by the body at http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/family-nutrition/vitamins

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