Snacks are a great way to establish healthy eating patterns. They give us an extra boost of energy, help us focus at work, stave off hunger and prevent intake of larger meals or late night snacking. Additionally, snacks can provide an opportunity to get more nutrients like fiber and foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains that we may otherwise be missing out on during the day.
Snacks for less active individuals should be 200 calories or less, and 200-300 calories for those who are more active. Just like meals, you can prep them! Pre-portioning snacks can save you time, control calorie intake, and help make you feel more satisfied.
When it comes to snacks on the go, there should be food safety considerations. Will where you are going to take over two hours until you eat it? Perishable food should be kept in an insulated bag with a frozen gel pack to prevent it from getting into danger temperature zones where bacteria can multiply quickly and make food unsafe to consume. Examples of foods that don’t need refrigeration according to the USDA include raw, uncut vegetables, apples, banana, oranges, peanut butter and jelly, hard cheeses like cheddar cheese, bread and crackers.
Here are some snack ideas:
- 1 small apple with 1 tablespoon of natural peanut or almond butter
- 10 carrot sticks with 2 tablespoons of a creamy dip such as guacamole, hummus or tzatziki
- 2 100 calorie bags of popcorn seasoned with any combination of: cocoa powder, cinnamon, chili powder, lemon or lime zest, garlic powder, curry powder, or parmesan cheese
- 1 string cheese, bell pepper slices, 2 slices turkey lunch meat, grape tomatoes
- 1 plain yogurt cup topped with pineapple and coconut flakes
- 10 baked tortilla chips and 1/2 cup of salsa or corn salsa
- 1 hardboiled egg sprinkled with pepper and paprika, and slice of whole wheat toast
- 1/2 whole wheat English muffin topped with 2 tablespoons cottage cheese, strawberry slices, balsamic glaze and mint
By Mai Duong, registered dietician at Providence St. Joseph Hospital