Thursday, May 27, 2010

Healthy Snack Choices

I happen to believe that healthy snacking is an important part of eating a well balanced diet.  Eating healthy snacks between breakfast and lunch and then again between lunch and dinner helps to keep you from becoming too hungry and then either over eating or making poor food choices at meal time.

Starting off you day with a healthy breakfast is the beginning of a great food day.  Add a little protein to your breakfast to help keep you feeling full for a longer period of time.  Skip the sweets like donuts or pastries and opt for Kashi cereals or oatmeal topped with fresh fruit and a few almonds or walnuts and make sure you use skim or low fat milk.

For your morning snack choose low fat yogurt (make sure it does not contain high fructose corn syrup or any artificial sweeteners) and top it with fresh berries, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and a couple of chopped walnuts.

For your afternoon snack I recommend you follow Elvis’s lead and eat a sliced banana with a heaping tablespoon of all natural peanut butter.

Here are a few other healthy snack options:

  • Fruit smoothies: Opt to make your own with fresh or frozen fruit, low fat yogurt, a little light vanilla soy milk, and a dash of cinnamon – store bought smoothies may contain high fat yogurts or ice cream.
  • Berries: They are sweet, easy to pop into your mouth, and a much healthier choice than a candy bar. Raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and blackberries are all anti-inflammatory, rich in flavonoids (compounds to protect cells against damage) and offer immune-boosting antioxidant activity.
  • Cut Up Vegetables: The fiber in veggies will help fill you up, and they provide a nice, satisfying crunch. Choose a wide range of colors (broccoli, cauliflower and carrots are good choices). I like to keep baby carrots and cut broccoli on hand to have an easy to reach for snack.
  • Nuts: When eaten sparingly, nuts are a great snack. Walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.  Nuts can be high in calories and fat (even if it's the healthy monounsaturated kind) so watch your portion control.
  • Dark chocolate: An ounce of dark chocolate now and then will satisfy a sweet tooth while providing antioxidant polyphenols (A kind of chemical that may protect against some common health problems and possibly certain effects of aging). Choose high quality dark chocolate with at least 70 percent pure cocoa, and enjoy the rich flavor.