Four Rules for Fabulous Healthy Snacks
Jennifer IserlohI think of the four "F's" as a guide: fiber, filling, fast, and fun when I'm coming up with the ultimate healthy snack for the day. Healthy snacks should be:
- high in fiber
- more filling compared to a candy bar or a handful of potato chips for the same or less calories
- fast to make, and
- the snack should be fun and something tasty that you look forward to eating!
When you keep these rules in mind, you can have a snack that will tide you over until meal time and pay off nutritionally at the same time. With a full and happy tummy, you won't be thinking about that last doughnut lurking in the lunch room.
Start with a high-fiber ingredient as a base for your snack -- like 100% whole grain crackers, pita, a whole wheat wrap, or a thin slice of hearty whole grain bread. Fiber not only helps you to feel fuller as it expands in your stomach, but it also slows the absorption of nutrients, meaning you'll stay full longer and keep blood sugar from dipping or spiking. You'll also be getting a good dose of vital minerals that live in the bran -– the brown, hard exterior of whole grain kernels.
The point of having a snack is to calm hunger and tide you over until mealtime. Let's face it, some days you feel hungrier than others, perhaps you've been frantically running errands or the cold weather has revved up your appetite. Having a larger healthy snack is a great idea as long as you bulk up the portion-size while dialing back on calories. Nutrient rich veggies and fruit hit the mark on both points! Apples, grated carrots, or celery stalks are great with low fat cheese and flavored cream cheese with less than 100 calories per cup. Mango, baby spinach, frozen blueberries and cherries make nutritious and flavorful smoothies.
Just because you make your snacks in seconds flat doesn't mean it can't be healthy. Have a collection of nut butters, fresh fruits like apples, grapes, carrots, and banana on hand along with your whole grain base. Have your favorite spices in plain sight like chili powder, black peppers, and ground cinnamon. A whole grain wrap with a bit of peanut butter, a pinch of cinnamon and sliced banana is a protein-rich, portable hunger buster.
When I think of fun snacks, two things come to mind: taste and appearance. Healthy snacks should always taste good, that's part of my philosophy that food should enhance your life. They should look good too, after all part of enjoying food is how it looks, and I don't support the old adage "you shouldn't eat with your eyes" -- you should, by all means; just don't over eat! Making snacks look good, can be as simple as melted cheese, picking the best, ripest food in season, and packing or cutting it up neatly.
Get the Skinny Chef's French Apple and Cheddar Cracker Snack recipe.
Nutritional Stats Per Serving: (4 topped crackers): 169 calories, 5 g protein, 22 g carbohydrates, 6 g fat (3 g saturated), 14 mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber, 229 mg sodium.
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