DSC_0474You know how it goes. You have been going non-stop all day and suddenly realize your stomach feels like it has succumbed to eating itself. The ravenous hunger-monster busts out and you just hope and pray for anyone that gets in its way. You pounce on the closest bag of chips you can reach in between making sure your own kids are out of immediate danger or are eating something half-way decent themselves. This wards off the monster for a little bit, but unfortunately it doesn’t last, and you are left still hungry and guilt-ridden about what you just ate before. Does this sound familiar? It may have happened to me a time or 2….*cough*.

Snick snacks, as my mom loved to call it when we were little, are an important part of the diet for many people. Contrary to popular belief, snacking itself is not bad for you. If you do it right, it holds off hunger and prevents that energy slump. It is going for the calorie-dense, nutrition-less ones that causes problems. 

Now that I am a mother myself, I depend on good snick snacks to get me through the day when a leisurely meal is just not possible. My son, who is now the ripe old age of 1, needs a couple of nutritious snacks a day. It is, however, difficult to think of healthy yet satisfying ones though when you are already tired, cranky, and hungry.

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I was going to post a beautiful picture of fruit and cheese kabobs, but then thought, “Who am I kidding?” My child (and me) covered in fruit and cheese = realistic.

So, the purpose of this post is to share with you some practical but very nutritious snacks that are satisfying and nice to the waistline. They are also packed with nutrients you may sometimes miss in your meals–important for you and your growing youngsters. With a little planning, you can ditch the processed, packaged snacks AND never be caught at the vending machine again. All of these are easy and fast to make when you have literally no more than a couple of minutes to spare.

Healthy Snack Ideas:
String Cheese/cheese cubes with whole grain crackers
-Cereal and milk- it doesn’t just have to be for breakfast!
-Baked tortilla chips with salsa- aim for a salsa with under 300mg sodium
-Half a whole wheat bagel with peanut butter and banana slices
-Cut up fruit/veggie slices with low-fat dip – the trick here is doing this ahead of time and storing in the fridge
-Handful of nuts -maybe with a couple dark chocolate chips in there…(it’s ok.)
-Unsalted/unbuttered popcorn with some parmesan cheese sprinkled on top
-1 slice of whole-grain bread with peanut butter, folded over – a “foldy oldy,” as we like to call it.
-Yogurt – it’s best to buy plain and add fruit yourself. Cuts way down on sugar.
-Fruit cups-a good option if you buy the fruit stored in it’s own juice, not syrup.
-Dried fruit-great for traveling
-Smoothies – whip up your favorite fruit and/or veggie combo with some protein such as yogurt or peanut butter. Example: Banana Smoothie
-Hard Boiled Egg-packed with excellent vitamins, minerals, and protein
-Apple slices with peanut butter
-Peanut butter crackers
-Jerky – great high protein portable snack. Beef or turkey is fine, just choose low-sodium brands
-Pumpkin seeds – hey, fall is coming and they are very nutritious.
-Chocolate milk-believe it or not, chocolate milk is one of the best post-workout snacks, because it has the perfect carb-to-protein ratio for recovery. Just choose 1% or skim (whole milk for kids aged 2 and under) and go easy on the chocolate.
-Low-fat cottage cheese with peaches-yum.
-1 Pudding cup – pudding cups are good for portion control of a sweet treat, and have some calcium.
– Pretzels and milk- one of my Granddad’s favorite bedtime snacks.
-Tuna fish with crackers-pack in those essential fatty acids. Remember, the American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least twice a week.
-Turkey Roll-Ups- wrap a couple pieces of low-sodium turkey around some cheese and lettuce.
Homemade teething cookies for the little ones- I know I’ve mentioned these before, but they have been such a huge hit at my house. Even better, they have no added sugar. Heck, I’ll even naw on them.

Need more creative ideas to further inspire the kiddos? Here is a great list:

http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/planning-and-prep/snack-and-meal-ideas/25-healthy-snacks-for-kids

Until next time, which is hopefully sooner than later…