Learning the art of smart snacking

Published 6:31 pm Saturday, January 17, 2015

Finding simple, tasty snack options that won’t break the calorie bank doesn’t have to be hard with the help of Hy-Vee.

Healthy snacking is a great pick-me-up, and provides an opportunity to include all the important food groups in your diet. Snacking may also keep you from overeating at other meals, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. And if you’re an athlete, healthy snacks may help meet the increased calorie and nutrient needs of maintaining/gaining lean body mass.

The key? Snacks full of quality nutrients, no added sugars and processed foods. Keep your snacks under 200 calories each for an average adult, or between 200 to 300 calories for athletes, and limit snacks to one or two a day.  Think of snacks as mini-meals that contribute nutrient-rich foods.

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Here are some healthy snack options to get you started:

•Sliced apple or banana with peanut butter.

•Toast an English muffin, drizzle with pizza sauce and sprinkle with low-fat mozzarella cheese.

•Peanut butter smoothie: Blend 1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt, one banana and 1 tablespoon peanut butter.

•Fruit smoothie: Blend 6 ounces low-fat vanilla yogurt, ½ cup skim milk, 1 cup fresh or frozen berries (strawberries, raspberries or blueberries).

•Fresh fruit or vegetables with half-cup low-fat cottage cheese.

•Three cups air-popped popcorn sprinkled with three tablespoons grated parmesan cheese.

•One-fourth cup nuts, such as pistachios, and a piece of fruit.

•4-5 whole grain crackers or 2 sheets of graham crackers with natural peanut butter or almond butter.

•1 slice whole grain bread with peanut butter.

•Carrots, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, peppers or celery sticks with a Greek yogurt based dressing such as Bolthouse Farms.

•Popcorn trail mix: 1 cup light popcorn mixed with one-fourth cup nuts and two tablespoons raisins.

•Cereal mix: One-fourth cup nuts, two tablespoons dried fruit, one tablespoon chocolate pieces and one-fourth cup whole grain cereal.

•Low-fat yogurt with two to three tablespoons chopped nuts.

•Hummus with cut vegetables or whole wheat pita bread

•13 baked corn chips with fresh salsa.

•A hard-boiled egg with a piece of whole grain toast topped with light, non-trans-fat margarine.

Spread celery sticks with peanut butter or low-fat cream cheese.  Top with raisins or dried cranberries.

•One cup tomato soup with five whole-grain crackers.

•Top a banana with low-fat vanilla and strawberry frozen yogurt.  Sprinkle with your favorite whole-grain cereal or granola.

•Put cubes of low-fat cheese and grapes on pretzel sticks.

•Spread vanilla Greek yogurt over a graham cracker and top with cut fruit.

(Adapted from the Food, Nutrition and Health Tips from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics).

 PapeApricot-Almond Health Balls

Serves 20 (2 balls each)

All you need

•1 cup Hy-Vee old-fashioned rolled oats

•1 cup whole grain brown crisp rice cereal

•1 (2 oz) pkg Hy-Vee sliced almonds

•1/2 cup chopped Hy-Vee dried apricots

•1/4 cup ground flaxseed meal

•2 tablespoon chia seeds

•2 tablespoon Hy-Vee mini semisweet chocolate chips

•1/4 teaspoon Hy-Vee salt

•1 cup unsalted almond butter

•1/4 cup agave nectar

•1 teaspoon Hy-Vee vanilla extract

 All you do

•In a large mixing bowl, stir together oats, cereal, almonds, apricots, flaxseed meal, chia seeds, chocolate chips and salt.

•In a 2-cup liquid measuring cup or small bowl, combine almond butter, agave nectar and vanilla; stir until well mixed. Add to oat mixture; beat with electric mixer on medium-low speed until well-mixed.

3. Shape mixture into 1-inch balls. Place balls in a baking pan. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

4. For convenience and portability, wrap individually with plastic wrap. Or, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in freezer for up to 1 month.

Fig-Walnut Health Balls: Substitute chopped dried figs for the apricots and chopped walnuts for the almonds.

Cranberry-Sunflower Seed Health Balls: Substitute dried cranberries for the apricots and unsalted, roasted sunflower seeds for the almonds..

Source: Hy-Vee Seasons Health 2015.

The information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.