Low-calorie, heart-healthy snacks are a great way to keep your hunger sated and metabolism moving between meals. The Mayo Clinic states that they key to adding snacks into your diet is "to keep moderation and balance in mind." A good snack choice will tame the between-meal hunger without impacting the appetite at mealtimes. Avoid empty-calorie snacks that are high in sugar and fat, and choose nibbles from the fruit, vegetable, grains and dairy food groups.
Mother Nature offers plenty of ready-to-eat snacks packed with vitamins and nutrients. Reach for a piece of fruit, raw vegetables or a handful of nuts or seeds to keep the hunger at bay. For something a bit more substantial, try a piece of cheese, a cup of yogurt or glass of low-fat milk. Keep a few hard-boiled eggs in the refrigerator for a quick peel-and-eat snack that is loaded with protein. Although one large hard-boiled egg is less than 100 calories, those watching their fat intake should eat the white and toss the yolk.
It only takes a few minutes to put together a flavorful and satisfying snack. Make a fruit smoothie by blending together fresh fruit, low-fat milk and yogurt, pour a little diet ginger ale over cut-up fruit for a refreshing fruit salad, mix fresh fruit in some cottage cheese, or layer fresh fruit, granola and yogurt for a flavorful parfait. Spread some low-fat cream cheese or peanut butter on whole-grain toast or a bagel, dip cut-up vegetables in low-fat dressing, hummus or fresh salsa, or partake in some low-fat cheese and whole-wheat crackers. Butter-free popcorn does not have to mean flavor-free. Toss popcorn with cinnamon, garlic powder or parmesan cheese, or add some nuts, raisins and miniature pretzels for an impromptu trail mix.
Hot snacks are often more appealing when the cool weather sets in. Enjoy a cup of fat-free chicken broth with a piece of toast, or heat up a soft whole-grain pretzel with plenty of mustard for dipping. Left-over rice opens the door to a variety of snack options. Mix a small bowl with some hot sauce and black beans, vegetables and soy sauce or corn and salsa for a light yet satisfying between-meal treat.
Just For Kids
Getting kids to reach for healthy snacks instead of cookies and ice cream is a challenge, but not an insurmountable one. The University of Illinois recommends choosing snacks that are high in nutritional value, can be easily made ahead and that appeal to the child in both taste and appearance. Use small cookie cutters to cut cheese and fruit into fun shapes and thread on small skewers, tint some cream cheese a light blue, spread on a rice cake and top with fish-shaped cheese crackers, or stuff celery sticks with peanut butter and top with raisins.
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