WHETHER AT HOME OR ON THE GO, KEEP SUMMERTIME SNACKS HEALTHY AND FUN!
It’s summer and the kids are active and hungry! Time to stock the pantry and fridge with healthy snacks that are easy whether you’re at home, or on the go.
Keep baby carrots or pre-cut celery sticks in an easy-to-reach place with a tub of yummy hummus or jar of crunchy peanut butter nearby.
Stock up on skim-milk cheese sticks or washed and ready-to-go grapes. Keep whole-wheat crackers, rice cakes, and lightly buttered popcorn in the pantry.
Or maybe you’re packing a cooler to take to the pool or beach. Or putting a picnic lunch together. Whatever the day’s plans are, you can have easy and satisfying snacks that are healthy and fun!
THE FUNDAMENTAL SANDWICH
A sandwich makes for an easy snack or meal. But don’t settle for just bread. Try pita pockets, tortillas, bagels, and English muffins to add interest and variety.
Look for bread made from whole wheat or sprouted grains, and those topped with seeds, for increased fiber, protein, and nutrients. Whole-grain bread is an excellent source of B vitamins, magnesium, and fiber. Research suggests high-fiber diets help reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.
Add some healthy protein to your sandwich with lean turkey or low-fat cheese such as skim mozzarella slices. Water-packed tuna or chicken salad can be paired with avocado slices for a healthy fat option.
Toss on some vegetables, such as tomato slices, leafy greens, or bean sprouts to add fiber and nutrients. Tomatoes are high in the antioxidant lycopene and vitamins A, E, and C. Antioxidants have been linked to many health benefits, including a reduced risk of heart disease, inflammation, diabetes, and cancer. Spinach leaves and other dark green vegetables such as arugula are good sources of folate, magnesium, vitamin K, and are rich in antioxidants.
HEALTHY TRAIL MIX
Trail mix is a fun snack and can be made in countless ways. It’s usually a combo of nuts, dried fruit, and something sweet. Typically it is peanuts, raisins, and M&Ms, but the options are endless.
Instead of peanuts, try almonds! Studies have found almonds to help manage elevated cholesterol and reduce the incidence of heart disease. The health benefit of almonds is related to their fat composition as well as their fiber and vitamin E content.
Walnuts, another healthy choice, provide protein, fiber, and healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids also help manage cholesterol and triglyceride levels, helping to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Instead of nuts, try adding seeds, such as sunflower, pumpkin, or flax seeds. Seeds add protein, as well as iron, and magnesium. Or try dried or roasted edamame. Edamame provides omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, vitamin C, and iron.
When it comes to dried fruit, keep it interesting and mix it up. In place of raisins, throw in some dried cranberries, apricots, or bananas. While raisins are naturally sweet, other dried fruits often have added sugar, however, they all provide energy and a variety of vitamins and minerals.
Instead of high sugar candy pieces, substitute bits of dark chocolate with a cocoa content of at least 70%. Dark chocolate is rich in flavanols which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Flavonols protect against diseases such as heart disease and cancer by reducing dangerous free radical damage to cells.
Smoothies are the best way to pack as much nutrition as possible into one drink. They are healthy snacks made with countless combinations of fruits, vegetables, and protein. Smoothies are simple to make and easy to take on the go, many containing only two or three ingredients.
Start with a cup of fresh or frozen fruit. Favorites include strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, bananas, and peaches. Berries are a rich source of fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants.
Instead of fruit, sneak in a vegetable such as spinach, kale, cauliflower, or zucchini. By adding vegetables you add fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, which aid in digestion, promote healthy skin, and support immunity. Avocados also add healthy polyunsaturated fat.
Add a protein source such as plain yogurt, low-fat milk, soymilk, cottage cheese, or peanut and almond butter. Low-fat protein provides essential amino acids important for the growth and repair of body tissues and muscles.
HEALTHIER CHIPS AND DIPS
Chips and dip don’t have to be high in fat and sodium. Instead of traditional potato or corn chips, choose:
-Pita chips or fresh pita pockets.
-Carrot or kale chips are low-calorie options.
-Apple and banana chips work well with sweet dips such as honey or nut butters.
-Snap peas make great dippers.
For the dip:
-Mash a fresh avocado with a little lime juice.
-Or dip into a plain or seasoned hummus.
-Salsa is tasty and low-fat choice. Made with tomatoes, it is rich in the antioxidant lycopene.
-Tzatziki is a flavorful yogurt and cucumber dip.
LOW SUGAR SWEETS
-Sweet snacks don’t have to be full of sugar. Some fun ideas include:
-Upside down ice cream cones filled with berries
-Watermelon triangles on a stick
-DIY yogurt and berry popsicles.
-Dark chocolate covered almonds or raisins.
-Dark chocolate dipped strawberries or other fruit.
It is natural sweetness makes fresh fruit a winner when it comes to healthy desserts. The nutrient density of fruit not only provides fiber but a variety of vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants. Dark chocolate adds the benefits of flavonols and a tasty sweetness.
WHEN IT COMES TO SUMMER SNACKS, AIM TO KEEP’EM HEALTHY
With a little planning and a commitment to keeping it healthy, pool parties, picnics, and snacks can still be tasty and fun. Focusing on fresh or minimally processed foods is key.
Including fruits and vegetables along with lower-fat proteins and healthy fats, provides beneficial fiber, essential vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatories, compounds that help lower our risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
Keep it simple and get the family involved. Have the ingredients you need on hand, so putting healthy snacks together can be quick and easy. Make it fun and have a healthy summer!
If you would like help with summer meal planning or have special dietary needs, our registered dietitians can assist you with individualized menus to fit your lifestyle.
To find out more about our services or to make an appointment, please call 240-449-3094.