Healthy Snacks

Dr. Matt here. Snacking between meals. I get asked all the time “what are some ideas for healthy snacks for my family?” I have so many favorites and have put them into a list for you. Some need some initial preparation and can be put into quick snack portion containers. Some are ready to go as is.
A banana is wrapped in its own biodegradable enclosure. Peel it and eat it. They contain cramp preventing potassium and are high in vitamin B6 and fiber. There are various stages of ripeness from green to brown. I like mine a little green and just starting to turn yellow. If our bananas get too ripe we make them into banana bread or mix them with homemade peanut butter spreading the mix onto bread for a sandwich treat.
Making your own peanut butter is not as hard as it sounds. If you have a food processor with a chopper blade you can do it. You put a couple of cups of unsalted roasted peanuts into the machine and turn on the chopper. The magic takes about ten minutes. As the nuts become pulverized they release natural peanut oils and you get peanut butter. Many specialty stores have the machine for you and you can get this fresh as home. Peanut Butter can be eaten as a dip for fruit or plain by the spoon. I like it with apple slices or on toasted wheat bread. I am not sure why but I also enjoy it on a dill pickle.
You can make almond butter the same as with peanuts. Most nuts will work and all are an excellent source of antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Almonds are nice to just have around for quick satisfying snacking opportunity. Shelled nuts are not messy and can be carried in a coat pocket, car cup holder, desk drawer, etc.
Hummus is a huge favorite of mine. Chickpeas and Garbanzo beans are the same thing and the primary ingredient that make up Hummus. Hummus is a blend of these with Tahini (ground sesame seeds), olive oil, and lemon juice. This mixture can be made easily at home and I prefer that because I know what goes into it. Also I like to add garlic, roasted red peppers and herbs. Hummus can be eaten plain or on anything. We like to cut up pita bread and toast the pieces under the broiler and then dip them into the golden hummus goodness. Hummus is high in Omega 3 and many amino acids.
Edamame (soybeans) are another favorite. You can make a hummus like mixture with them also. I shell them and blend them with frozen peas for a base adding olive oil and lemon juice as I go. I then add spices for the desired cuisine I am attempting. I really like to add course ground coriander, cumin, and cilantro leaves. This creamy mixture is good on everything, by the spoon, on vegetables or in a sandwich. Edamame beans come in a pod and can be found in the frozen food section of most stores. I like to quickly boil mine in water and then let them cool. You simply squeeze the shell and out pops the bean. Kids will really like this interactive food. They are fun and good to eat. They are a perfect snack food. They can be shelled and added to pasta dishes, put on salads or stand alone as a vegetable side dish.Soybeans are protein packed and high in Omega 3.
Carrots and Celery are often overlooked because they are too common. So we have found that if you change their shape by using a knife or a specialty cutter. Many shapes can be achieved and you can get your kids to participate. My personal favorite is a whole carrot with the green top on and the center leafy piece of celery. Both of these go nicely with tomato juice. Cutting carrots and celery into large diagonal slices or just the usual stick shape make for a pick up and eat snack in the car on the bus or at work. They can be a carrier for dips, spreads, and dressings anytime. They can be chopped really fine and added to sandwich spreads like tuna, egg, chicken, etc. They are called the culinary trinity when combined with onion. Carrots and Celery are loaded with fiber and nutrients. I noticed at Red Robin you can substitute french-fries for them if you wish. Every grocery-shopping list should have them on it.
Berries are yummy. They are bite size and easy to snack on. In the summer fresh is the way to go strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, Marion berries, etc. Freeze some up for the winter months in addition to making jams and jellies. I really enjoy munching on a bowl of frozen Marion berries while watching a movie at home. It doesn’t take long for a bowl of them to disappear. When you first put one into your mouth it is like ice cream and then it gets chewable and more like a smoothie. Blueberries are my second favorite frozen berry treat. Kids really like a little bowl of them. Berries are good in yogurt fresh or frozen and a healthy snack. Another thing I like is to freeze grapes and eat them. Yummy, amazing taste and texture.
Yogurt is another favorite of mine. You can make if at home or buy it in any size, type, and flavor that you like. I eat low fat plain and add to it. It easily combines with nuts, berries and grains. Yogurt is high in calcium, vitamin D and helps with digestion. Yogurt is a great snack food, but it also can be used to make dips, dressings, and spreads. You can freeze yogurt into pops and bars too.
Air popped popcorn is always a satisfying snack. We like to sprinkle liberally savory yeast flakes on it for an added flavor. Popcorn is easy to make ahead and take with you on car trips, the movies, or to work and school. Popcorn is a whole grain (bran, germ and endosperm). Popcorn is loaded with fiber.
Melons are a great snack food. It is fun in any shape not just sliced or melon balled. It can be by itself or with berries, nuts and even cured meats. Watermelon actually is a better thirst quencher that all the sport drinks. Melons are not just water, although they contain a lot of it. They are full of nutrients. Melon is a hungry satisfier so it makes a great snack. Honeydew is my favorite and I like to cut it up in low fat small curd cottage cheese another source of calcium.
Cheeses are high in calcium. Kids and adults like it. String mozzarella cheese is an easy convenient snack. I like the hard cheeses best, just a few slices of parm’ or pecorino-romano with a few nuts. Cheese cubes, sticks, strings, slices, etc.
Fruits are most obvious snack, between meal treat. Apples, pears, plums, etc. There are many types of fruit juices on the market but it is better to pick the whole fruit and eat it raw. Fiber is necessary for bowel health and this is a good source for the entire family. Fruits are wonderful snack foods.
In summary these are just a few of my favorite snack foods for you and your family. I encourage you to get creative and try something new. If you have an idea to share please tell me at your next checkup. I am always looking to increase my healthy snack choices. Peace out I need to go brush and floss.

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