Sunday, February 7, 2010

Snacktastic!

I've had this half written post about snacking since October but a reader question prompted me to finish it off and get it posted. In response to yesterday's Just One Thing: Be Prepared, reader Kandice wrote...
I was wondering what are some good fiber foods that will keep me from wanting to eat everything in sight. I just need some ideas of snacks. I'm a nanny so I am surrounded by cookies, crackers, and junk.
When I was growing up snacking got a bad rap. It was thought that snacking led to weight gain and limiting in-between meal snacks could keep a fat kid from getting fatter. I definitely agree that frequent, mindless snacking on junk food is a really bad habit and can lead to weight gain. But smart snacking is crucial when trying to eat for optimal health. Sensible snacking minimizes hunger between meals and keeps that metabolism humming.

So what makes a snack sensible? High fiber and a good balance of protein and fat for lasting satisfaction along with portion control.

Fruit like apples and pears make great snacks and are especially satisfying and delicious when paired with a piece of cheese or a tablespoon or two of nut or sunflower seed butter. Baby carrots and other raw veggies like cauliflower paired with hummus dip is another tasty option. I love cultured cottage cheese with Kashi Go Lean original cereal as a snack. Wasabi Wow trail mix from Trader Joe's is another favorite, but it's really important to utilize the measuring cup when doling out trail mix or granola because they are high in fat and calories.

For something more elaborate, Whole Living has some very appetizing recipes for healthy snacks. One of my favorite savory and sweet snacks is one serving of stone ground wheat crackers spread with one ounce of creamy goat cheese, sprinkled with a few dried cherries on each cracker. It's like a bit of cherry cheesecake in your mouth!

Other ideas include:
Mini whole wheat pita bread filled with hummus and chopped veggies.
Greek yogurt and berries sprinkled with a few pistachio nuts.
A whole grain tortilla with left over black beans and salad greens.
Bake a batch of healthy muffins, the keep really well in the fridge and are very portable.
"Just a handful" of raw almonds.
Roasted, seasoned chickpeas or squash seeds.

A Google search has a bevy of links to explore. Just be mindful of prepackaged snacks that claim to be high in fiber because they are often full of junk like high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils.

Snacking definitely fits into my healthy lifestyle. Two delicious and nutritious between meal snacks keeps me from feeling deprived and then overeating at meal times. What are your favorite healthy snack ideas?

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