by Maddy West, ETC blog contributor

Most people have a hard time getting through their day without snacking a bit, so why not treat yourself and make it a healthy one! A snack is something that you munch on between meals and is “officially” defined as a “meal” containing only 1 or 2 food groups. My favorite snacks include things like fruit, nuts, and popcorn!

 

I recommend snacks that are…

 

Low in:

Saturated fat

Calories (150-200 calories per serving)

Sodium (140 milligrams or less)

 

High in:

Fiber

Protein

Vitamins

Minerals

 

A good rule of thumb…check the %Daily Value!  The nutrients you want to avoid should contribute 5% or less to your diet and the nutrients you want to emphasize should contribute 20% or more to your diet.

Here are some of my favorite snacks:

 

Fruit smoothie:

Last week I made a fruit smoothie with 1 banana, 1 cup of strawberries, 1 single serving strawberry yogurt, 1 cup of ice, ¼ cup of milk, a splash of orange juice and coconut milk, and topped with mango and kiwi.

This is a great snack for kids because they can help put the fruits in the blender and, depending on their age, cut up some of the fruit. Kids will be a lot more excited to eat something when they help make it!

Greek yogurt and granola:

When I, occasionally, have a chance to run to the grocery store during the school year, I enjoy grabbing some vanilla Greek yogurt and a bag of granola. Make this one kid-friendly by filling a half-cup container with yogurt and a snack baggie with granola.  Don’t forget the spoon!

Veggies and Greek yogurt dips:

It’s always great to get more veggies in the diet! Carrots, celery, and cucumbers are small, easy snacks to pack for kids. Take a scoop of that Greek yogurt from above, mix with a few seasonings, and dip away! A great way to make this snack more kid-friendly, cut the carrots into stars and cucumbers into flowers.

 

Mozzarella and tomato:

This was one of my favorite snacks growing up! My mother would cut up cherry tomatoes and mini mozzarella balls…sometimes we’d even mix in some pesto. Experiment a bit and find your kiddos favorite flavor!

Fruit Salad:

Fruits are amazing! I love making a small fruit salad including: strawberries, pineapple, clementines, and grapes.  Throw in a handful of nuts and you’ve got the perfect snack!

Popcorn:

Now, the best kind of popcorn for you is air popped with no added butter. Since I’m in college, sadly, I can’t bring my air popper with me so I always try to buy the plainest microwave popcorn as possible or pop my own in a brown paper bag in the microwave.  Spice it up by sprinkling some cinnamon, parmesan cheese, chili powder, or dill for an extra boost of flavor…you won’t even miss the salt and butter!

Frozen Grapes:

This past year I discovered this amazing snack! Who knew frozen grapes would taste like candy? Super simple, too! Just make sure you spread them out on a plate after washing or you’ll have a frozen grape mountain instead of tasty bites!

Popsicles:

Spring is coming! Have the kids make their own popsicles with fresh fruits and juices! You don’t even need a popsicle maker, a paper cup, and plastic spoon works perfectly! (Tip: to help get the spoon or popsicle stick stay in the center, cover the cup with foil and pop your stick right in!)

 

Everyone is going to snack at one point or another, so let’s all do our best to make them healthy! Avoid the sugary processed foods and make your own.  You’ll love how much quality time you can spend with the little one’s when discovering new recipes and making tasty treats. And remember, we are all doing our best. Don’t give up. Love yourself. Snack on. And #eatthechocolate.

Maddy is a freshman at Indiana University of Pennsylvania in Indiana, PA, where she is studying nutrition and dietetics. Maddy became interested in nutrition when she was in her early teens and learned that fast food and processed foods were unhealthy. She was an avid runner and knew the importance of good nutrition to keep the body healthy. After graduating college, Maddy hopes to get accepted to a Didactic Program in Dietetics internship which is a requirement before sitting for the Registered Dietitian exam. Maddy’s future plans are to become a Registered Dietitian working in the oncology field and receiving her Master’s Degree.

Resources:

https://www.fda.gov/downloads/food/ingredientspackaginglabeling/labelingnutrition/ucm410497.pdf

http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/much-sodium-per-serving-bad-9665.html

http://www.nourishinteractive.com/healthy-living/free-nutrition-articles/146-snack-foods-list-food-groups