With the spring season coming and a warm, sunny summer following, kicking your butt into gear and eating healthy is more important than ever! Many times, eating healthy every day can be an overwhelming thought for those with tight schedules and a list of commitments, which, let’s face it, includes just about all of us! One of the best things you can learn to help you stay on track throughout your crazy days are quick and easy tips for grab-and-go healthy food choices, or what one may call Smart Snacking!
Yes! Snacking CAN be healthy for you! But the first tip to keep in mind before reading on is that portion size is key! A snack can easily turn into the same calories as a meal if you eat too much at once. Your goal for snacks should be 200-300 calories or less. Tips to help you achieve this include pre-filling small snack baggies and storing them in your cupboard or refrigerator (limit yourself to this serving size!), portioning out a small bowl of your snack choice rather than just eating out of the original container, and selecting healthy substitutes for less healthy snacks you are craving. For example, substitute 1 cup of unsalted popcorn or a small bowl of whole-grain crackers instead of potato chips, or choose ¼ cup of homemade trail mix with dried fruit and nuts instead of a candy bar. Also, avoid eating out of boredom or for emotional reasons, which can often lead to eating more than you need to. Instead, go for a walk, hang out with a friend, or find a hobby you enjoy.
Here are some more quick and healthy snack ideas to help you achieve your wellness goals:
- Always have sliced or chopped vegetables and fruits set aside to quickly grab.
- Choose hummus, low-calorie dressing, or peanut butter for dipping rather than higher-fat, higher-calorie dipping sauces.
- Include fruits and vegetables on your grocery shopping list that involve minimal preparation, such as apples, pears, bananas, fruits canned in their own juice, baby carrots, or cherry tomatoes. Always have these on hand for fast healthy fuel on-the-go.
- Top low-fat cottage cheese with fresh, frozen, or canned fruit.
- Drink a glass of milk or non-dairy substitute for a quick snack. These choices contain quality protein, fortified with calcium and vitamin D, and will keep you feeling satisfied between meals.
- Grab a slice of low-sodium deli meat such as chicken or turkey and wrap around low-fat string cheese, an apple slice, or carrot stick.
- Roast kale or thinly sliced beets in the oven to make vegetable chips to munch on (or try the roasted chickpea recipe below!).
- Mash avocado with a scoop of salsa, and use as a dip for low-fat baked tortilla chips.
- Soak steel-cut oats in hot water or milk for 2-3 minutes and top with dried or fresh fruit.
- Heat low-fat cheese on a whole-wheat tortilla. Wrap and dunk in bean dip or salsa.
- Make a mini-pizza from a toasted English muffin, spaghetti sauce, chopped vegetables, and low-fat mozzarella cheese. Heat in microwave for 45-60 seconds to melt the cheese, and enjoy!
- Freeze Greek yogurt and top with fresh, frozen, or canned fruit for a sweetly satisfying and nutritious snack.
- Have a carton of hard-boiled eggs set aside for quick protein on-the-go!
- Keep pantry-protein staples in your cupboard at all times for quick, nutritious, and filling snacks. Examples include nuts, seeds, nut butters, and tuna. Make trail mix out of nuts and seeds with dried fruit and dark chocolate. Use peanut butter for dipping with apples, whole-grain crackers, or celery sticks. Dip whole-grain crackers or fresh veggie sticks in tuna salad made with low-fat mayo.
Check out the recipe below for an easy, tasty, fiber-packed snack!
USDA. 10 Tips: MyPlate Snack Tips for Parents. ChooseMyPlate.gov. 2016. Available at: https://www.choosemyplate.gov/ten-tips-snack-tips-for-parents. Accessed February 12, 2017.
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Smart Snacking for Adults and Teens. Eat Right Food, Nutrition and Health Tips from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2017. Available at: http://www.eatright.org/~/media/eatright%20files/nationalnutritionmonth/handoutsandtipsheets/nutritiontipsheets/smartsnackingforadultsandteens.ashx. Accessed February 12, 2017.
Article provided by Caela Stenske, UWGB Dietetic Intern