Monday, May 14, 2012

15 Snacks That Make Calories Count!

I read an article last week reporting that one-fourth of the calories children consume come from snacks. It made me wonder: how many calories do I consume in snacks? Well in fact, according to my food journal, the answer is one-quarter. Interesting. So what's the big deal?

The study, conducted by health professors at two Universities, found that fourth- and fifth-grade students consumed 302 calories from calorically-dense, nutrient-poor snacks such as cookies, potato chips and candy, but only 45 calories from fruit and vegetable snacks. They found that many children have greater control over the foods they consume as snacks than those they eat at mealtimes. The researchers concluded based on their findings that more health education is necessary to guide positive snack choices.

I'm passing this information along because I think it's important news for adults and children alike. Do you realize how many calories you're consuming at snacks? Are these snacks rich in nutrients? Or are they "empty calories?" It makes sense to eat snacks throughout the day because it can help you keep your energy level stable and keep you from getting too hungry before your next meal. I would say it's appropriate for one-fourth of your daily calories to come from snacks too--but it's important to make those calories count. Snacks should come from the same healthy food groups from which we build our meals. It's certainly okay to eat enjoy treats sometimes, but most of the time make sure your snacks pack a powerful nutrient punch. Here's some ideas to get you started.

  • ½ of a sandwich (turkey, chicken breast, or lean ham)
  • ½ of an English muffin with 1 tablespoon Nutella®
  • 6 whole grain crackers and 1 piece light string cheese
  • ½ cup fat-free frozen yogurt with 1 tablespoon nuts
  • 2 rice cakes (4 inches across) with 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • ½ cup canned fruit (in juice) with ¼ cup cottage cheese
  • 6 ounces non-fat or light yogurt with 1 tablespoon granola
  • Mini pizza: ½ of an English muffin with 1 tablespoon tomato sauce and 1 ounce part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • ½ pita bread with 2 tablespoons hummus
  • 3 cups light popcorn
  • ½ cup sugar-free pudding with 1 tablespoon walnuts
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 6 ounce non-fat or light yogurt
  • Small granola bar, made with whole grains and/or nuts and fruit
  • Small apple with 1 tablespoon peanut butter and 1 cup baby carrots (my favorite afternoon snack!)
How do you make your snack calories count? What are your favorite nutrient-packed snacks?

Article source: Food Navigator, Image credit: Robert Cochrane