What is your idea of the perfect snack?
These seven categories of little treats have to be portable enough to take to the office or on the road and easy to assemble.
With seven, there is a category for each day of the week, and that can keep things interesting. Most of these snacks appeal to slackers of all ages. Here they are:
Kabobs, stuffers and wraparounds
These can be as simple as celery with tuna, peanut or almond butters or even pimento cheese. Make it portable by sending along a plastic knife and the stuffing in a small container. Ham Roll Ups can be assembled in advance and cut into spirals or wrapped in the roll then cut at snack time.
A jalapeno pepper can be cut in half lengthwise and filled with tuna salad or pimento cheese if you happen to crave a little heat. Try mozzarella, basil and tomato kabobs made with fresh basil wrapped around a chunk of mozzarella with a grape or cherry tomato. This makes a great snack or pretty party food. Fruits and cheeses also make pretty kabobs.
Think hummus, guacamole, salsa or Greek yogurt crafted into dips with a bit of dill, garlic, adobo or herbs. There are plenty of small containers to hold portion-size helpings with accompanying chips or raw vegetables placed in a baggie or plastic wrap.
Crunches and munchies
Popcorn, kale chips, nuts, trail mix, celery, lentil chips, dehydrated vegetable chips, raw sugar-snap peas, carrot sticks and even slices of jicama can be enjoyed alone or paired with a dip or spread. Don't forget slices of crisp apples or pears that go well with a spread of nut butter or a wedge of Laughing Cow cheese.
Check the labels on chips for nutrient value and serving sizes: A serving could be 11 or eight chips. You can divide the servings appropriately or even make your own chips from pita bread, bagel slices or tortillas, drying them in the oven until crispy.
Nutella or nut butter spread over a graham cracker and topped with a slice of banana is so easy it can be made by a 6-year-old. Laughing Cow cheeses, at 35 calories, come in several flavors. My favorite is the light Swiss version. Almond Butter spread on a Wasa cracker and topped with fresh blueberries makes a yummy, satisfying snack while delivering super nutrients.
Bars, cookies and muffins
Make your own granola bars or cookies. Banana Oatmeal and Nut Cookies are studded with dried apricots and walnuts or almonds weigh in at only 35 calories per cookie. Scan your recipes for muffins that have less sugar and substitute mashed banana or unsweetened applesauce for some of the fat, avoiding those with shortening.
Smoothies and spoonables
Peach smoothies, frozen yogurt, sugar-free gelatin with added fruit and vegetables or nuts. Freeze seasonal fruits now for smoothies later. Frozen strawberries and peaches make wonderful smoothies throughout the year.
With the added nutrient value of yogurt or low-fat milk blended together you have a winning snack. You can even pop it in a thermos and take it to work.
Ask for the nutritional information at frozen yogurt shops — you could still be getting a big load of sugar or fat. Keep your portion appropriate.
With tomatoes ripening in the garden, it's a great time for gazpacho. Serve it with cucumber and celery or carrot sticks. For warmer days enjoy iced teas with fruit sangria style. Check the labels of those “energy” drinks as many of them tend to be loaded with an overdose of sugar and caffeine. Don't forget the water: Keep hydrated, and you may be satisfied with very little snacking at all.
Think of these ideas for healthy snacking as a starting point. Just start planning and enjoy. You can find many of these snack items at your neighborhood market already prepared. The little time spent in preparation brings big dividends for our health and well-being. A healthy snack can be a satisfying way to help get you and your family through a busy day.
A healthy snack recipe
This recipe makes about 2 dozen bite-size cookies. It is packed with good-for-you ingredients and is easy to make with little hands. Kids can measure, stir and roll cookies from start to finish. Experiment with other mix-ins like almonds,
BANANA-OATMEAL SNACK COOKIES
2 ripe bananas, mashed
½ cup unsweetened apple sauce
1½ cups quick-cooking oats
½ cup finely ground walnuts
½ cup finely chopped dried apricots and/or cherries
• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
• Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
• Combine mashed bananas, apple sauce, oats, ground walnuts and chopped apricots and/or dates in a large bowl until evenly blended.
• Scoop out 1 heaping tablespoon and roll into a ball.
• Place balls onto the prepared baking sheet and flatten slightly. Repeat with remaining mixture.
• Bake about 30 minutes or until lightly golden.
• Cool on a wire rack.
• Store cookies in an airtight container for up to one week.
• To freeze, layer cookies between waxed paper and store in an airtight container for up to one month.
• Nutritional information per 1 cookie serving: 35 calories (10 from fat), 1g total fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 0 mg sodium, 6 g carbohydrate (1 g dietary fiber, 2 g sugar), 1 g protein.