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Tips for Better Snacks

Adults consume 400 to 900 daily calories as snacks daily, and half of all children take in about 600 calories between meals, which is enough to qualify as a meal! Use these tips for better snacks and upgrade mini meals for more energy, better focus, and good nutrition.

What makes a healthy snack for kids and adults?

It’s natural to get hungry between breakfast, lunch, and dinner, especially for young children and teens. Kids need to energy grow, and adults who skimp on meals, or skip them, need snacks, too.

It’s OK to snack. The problem is that snacks are often rich in calories, fat, and sodium, and low in good nutrition.

Think of snacks as balanced mini-meals, not meal-wreckers. For example, when you combine cheese, whole grain crackers, and fruit, it’s OK to eat lightly at your next meal.

There’s no limit on snacks, but they should be balanced. And, you should account for snack calories as part of daily calorie needs so that you don’t eat too much. It’s easy to confuse snacks and treats.

When kids snack at home, have them eat at the table.  Eating at a table encourages mindfulness about food.

Pack in the protein for better snacks

Cookies, chips, and candy temporarily curb hunger, but they aren’t particularly filling in the long run, in part because they lack protein.

Protein promotes eating satisfaction, and may contribute to easier weight control.

Protein-rich foods, such as low-fat dairy, lean meat, poultry, and seafood, also provide vitamins and minerals, including choline, iodine, and vitamin B12 for brain health. And, soy, beans, nuts, and seeds supply fiber, which we need every day.

Include carbohydrates for better snacks

Carbohydrates are found in foods such as milk, fruit, vegetables, beans, bread, cereals, pasta, rice, and other grains, and in cookies, cakes, and other sweet foods and beverages.  

Nutritious, satisfying snacks combine protein and carbohydrates, preferably the complex kind. 

Foods rich in complex carbohydrates include whole grains, beans, fruit, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Popcorn is a whole grain. 

Complex carbohydrates, including starch and fiber, take longer to digest. In addition, complex carbohydrates are generally found in foods with vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are plant compounds that support health.  

16 tips for better snacks for kids and adults

When it comes to snacks, anything goes as long as it’s on the healthy side!

These better snacks combine protein and carbohydrate, and offer a variety of other nutrients, too.

  • Double Berry Smoothie: 1 cup plain Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup fresh or frozen wild blueberries, 1/2 cup fresh or frozen raspberries or strawberries, 2 tablespoons milk, sweetener of your choice. Combine in food processor or blender and drink immediately.

Try these other delicious smoothie recipes

  • ΒΎ cup dry roasted edamame
  • Small bowl of whole grain cereal and milk or fortified soy beverage. (Most plant milks don’t supply as much protein as dairy or soy.)
  • Trail mix: whole grain cereal, raisins, nuts
  • Β½ tuna fish or turkey sandwich on whole grain bread and a handful of cherry tomatoes
  • 1-2 reduced-fat mozzarella cheese sticks and 6 woven wheat whole grain crackers
  • 1-2 hard-cooked eggs and a 1-ounce whole grain roll or slice of toast
  • 1 serving plain one-minute oats prepared in the microwave with 8 ounces milk and topped with 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
  • Carton of Greek yogurt and fruit
  • 4 cups low-fat microwave popcorn tossed with 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese; 8 ounces milk
  • 1 cup canned lentil soup topped with ΒΌ cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • Β½ cup cottage cheese and 6 whole grain crackers
  • 10 small whole grain pretzels and hummus
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter and 10 baby carrots

These no-bake cookies are perfect for snacking. [/caption]

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