Healthy snacks can help you in more ways than one!
According to Food Safety News and a recent report on the American Diet, "four of the ten leading causes of death in the U.S., including the top 3, can be influenced by diet: coronary heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. Critical dietary factors associated with these conditions include those that are too high in calories, fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium or too low in fiber-containing foods."
Incorporating healthy snacks into a daily meal plan can help to curb hunger, reduce calories, fat, sugar and even assist in losing weight. Use these tips to choose healthy foods for snacking to look and feel better, to improve overall health and wellness and to reduce the risk of health problems.
Having a desire for optimal health and wellness is the first real step to eating healthy since you may very well need to make some major changes in your diet. It's not as difficult as you may think because of so many options for delicious and still good for you snacks. Oftentimes, people think that they should skip meals when trying to lose weight but, this idea backfires when the body begins to store food as fat.
Let's take a look at some of the ways to prepare healthy snacks to help you on the right path of nutrition.
Choose small frequent meals
Plan to eat small frequent meals instead of a couple heavy meals throughout the day. Food is energy and providing the body with small amounts of fuel per day will assist in your goal to reach optimal health and wellness, keep your metabolism going while reducing the risk of illness and disease.
Use smaller plates and choose your nicest ones to portion out your snacks reducing the likelihood that you'd eat a whole bag of nuts.
Clean fresh fruits after purchase
Prepare healthy foods for snacks for in between meals, on the go, for the car for yourself or the whole family. When returning from the grocery store, clean all fresh fruits and vegetables so they are at the ready. Preparation is key so that the snacks will be readily available and you'll avoid grabbing that first bag of potato chips.
Get handy with using a knife
Cut clean and dried fruits and vegetables into sticks, chunks, cubes or make creative shapes that will encourage you and your family to eat more healthy choices. Who could resist a dish of radishes shaped like roses, star kiwi fruit, strings of cucumber or small cubes of zucchini to name a few! Use colorful sword sticks to serve.
Dehydrate fruits and vegetables
A food dehydrator will help you to reduce wasting fresh produce and offers an easy way to prepare healthy snacks. Almost any kind of fresh fruit or vegetable can be dehydrated and stored in air tight containers having them readily available for work, the car, for the kids, the gym or camping. You'll find that a food dehydrator will pay for itself when you stop throwing away spoiled produce and eat healthier.
Freeze fresh fruit
Have you ever tried freezing fresh grapes and snacking on them? Try it and see if it's not one of your new favorite snack ideas! Frozen fruit also works great to make your own smoothies.
Roast your own seeds
Try roasting your own seeds from vegetables such as butternut squash, pumpkin, acorn squash or sunflower. Clean and dry the seeds, place on a sheet tray, add a small amount of extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Roast in the oven for 5-15 minutes until slightly brown. Delicious and you've controlled the ingredients making seeds a healthy snack option you can make at home.
** Choose healthy snack options instead of high fructose, high calorie, high fat items.
Select from this list of healthy foods for snacking:
Trail mix contains nuts and dried fruit - look for the lowest fat, sugar and carbohydrate content. Make your own trail mix with your food dehydrator and it's a fun project for kids to help with.
Fresh Fruit - contains healthy carbohydrates, is refreshing and filling. Cut an assortment of fruit and store in zipped baggies, sealed containers or green bags.
Yogurt - can be eaten plain, mixed with warm cereals or as a dip for fresh fruit.
Nuts - are a healthy snack because they contain protein, omega fatty acids, are crunchy and filling. Portion out one serving as a snack idea that's easy.
Stuffed grape tomatoes - these small tomatoes are the perfect bite-sized snack and can be filled with any low fat dip for a more savory snack idea.
Pickles – there are a wide variety of pickles on the market that you'll be able to find one or two that you love and pickles can satisfy the crunchiness or sweetness we often look for in snacks.
Celery - can be cleaned, cut and stuffed with peanut butter, nutello, apple butter or low fat dip as a healthy snack option with great crunch.
Whole wheat crackers and dip - a small portion of healthy whole wheat or whole grain crackers can satisfy a desire for salt or crunch. Choose the lowest fat and calorie option when purchasing and remember the brand name for the next grocery shopping trip.
Hummus - make your own hummus for healthy snacking. It's easy, tastes great and can be used as a dip for any fresh vegetable you enjoy. Hummus is very low in fat, calories, cholesterol and sugar and contains fiber. Or, try black bean dip, your own homemade vegetable dip or salsa.
Low fat cottage cheese, string cheese, low fat yogurt and low fat pudding are good sources of calcium and protein yet filling and taste good.
Popcorn contains fiber, satisfies the need for crunchiness and is one of the healthy snacks you can choose, everything in moderation is the rule!
Cereals are good healthy snack foods with fiber, protein, calcium and vitamins as long as you choose whole grains without sugar added.
Green tea or black tea sweetened with just a bit of honey is a simple way to sit back and relax while satisfying a craving for something warm and sweet.
Search for other healthy snacks and be willing to try new things, you just might be surprised at the wide variety of healthy snacks that will become your new favorites.
Tips & Warnings
Read all labels for ingredients and choose the healthiest ones you can find
Pay attention to serving size information on package labels
Portion control is paramount when desiring healthy foods for snacking
Avoid snacking at least 3 hours before bed for optimal health and wellness
Drink at least 8 glasses of water per day to feel full
Avoid high fructose syrup, saturated fats and hydrogenated oils for the best snack options
Try healthy snack options for at least 30 days so that it becomes a habit and your new norm
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