By Pamela Redwine
At the office, in the car, by the television set or computer, at a sports event, in the movie theater – snacking is part of American life. We often chide ourselves for between-meal nibbling, often with good reason. Too often, people snack mainly on energy-dense, low-nutrient foods, then skimp on nutrient dense foods at meals – or perhaps overdo on calories.
But for children and teens especially, snacks can supplement meals. Because their stomachs are smaller, children may need to eat more often than adults do, perhaps every three to four hours. Physically active, growing teens may need the added calories that snacks supply. Adults may enjoy a snack break to satisfy mid-day hunger. Older adults with small appetites or limited energy may find several small meals easier to handle. And many enjoy the social value of snacking with others.
Chosen wisely, snacks can work for you! As with other food and beverage choices, make between meal eating a valuable part of your healthful eating style.
• Make snack calories count within your personal healthful eating plan. Think of snacks as mini-meals that can contribute nutrient-rich food-group foods.
• Snack only when you are hungry. Skip the urge to nibble when you are bored, frustrated, or stressed.
• Snack on sensible portions. Choose a single-serve container; put a small helping in a bowl, rather than eating directly from the package, and skip “mega” or “super” size drinks and snacks.
• Use food labels to make snack decisions. Remember; if a snack package has two servings and you eat the whole amount, you have to double the calories, the saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, and sodium listed on the label.
• Make snacking a conscious activity. Overeating is easy if you absentmindedly snack, perhaps while watching TV or surfing the net.
• Plan your snacks. Keep a variety of tasty, nutritious, ready-to-eat snacks on hand at home, at work, or wherever you need a light bite to take the edge off hunger.
• Eat small snacks well ahead or mealtime. A light bite, eaten two to three hours before meals, probably won’t interfere with your appetite. Instead it may divert the temptation to overeat before dinner.
• Stock your fridge and freezer: fat-free or low-fat yogurt and milk, cottage cheese, cheese, lean deli meats, whole fruit, cut up raw veggies, 100 percent fruit juice, frozen juice bars, frozen yogurt.
• Stock up on microwavable snacks: Single serving soups; whole wheat pita bread or English muffins with tomato sauce, Italian herbs and mozzarella cheese for instant pizza, bean dip or salsa, with tortillas; cheddar cheese, for a microwave-baked potato, plain sweet potato.
• Choose smart at convenience stores or malls; soft pretzels, bagel (go light with cream cheese), frozen yogurt, fruit smoothies (small size), fruit juice.
• Quench your thirst: water, low-fat or fat free milk, 100 percent fruit juice or vegetable juice.
Two Food Group Snacks
• Whole-grain cereal and low-fat milk
• Fruit smoothie (fruit juice, with low-fat or fat-free milk or yogurt)
• Yogurt and fresh fruit
• Peanut butter on whole-wheat crackers
• Pita bread and hummus (chickpea dip)
• Apple or pear slices topped with cheese
• Bagel chips (oven baked) and salsa
• Dried cranberry and peanut mix
• Whole wheat pita stuffed with lettuce, tomato, cucumber and low fat dressing
• Raw veggies with cottage cheese or yogurt dip
• Plain microwave popcorn and 100 percent fruit juice
• Quesadilla (soft tortilla and cheese, folded and heated)
• Flaked tuna or salmon and chopped celery, with low-fat mayonnaise
• Microwave-baked potato topped with salsa and cheese shreds.
Recipe of the week
Snackin’ Cinnamon Popcorn
1 tablespoon brown sugar substitute
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
8 cups hot air-popped popcorn
Butter-flavored cooking spray
1. Combine brown sugar substitute, salt and cinnamon in small bowl, mix well
2. Spread hot popped popcorn onto 15 x 10 x 1 inch jelly-roll pan. Coat popcorn with cooking spray; immediately sprinkle cinnamon mixture over top.
3. Serve immediately or store in airtight container.
Makes 4 servings
Nutrients per serving: 2 cups popcorn
Recipe Source: Taste of Home Diabetic Cookbook 2008