It's Time to Get Your Summertime Snack On!
We are a household of snackers!! That’s right. Those yummy treats that tide us over between meals. And well, with it being summertime that means more snacking is going down in this house!! The kids are home, we’re home, the weather is great so we’re more active and often on the go (making us more hungry), so we want our snacks to be quick and easy, and of course delicious and healthy!
One of my favorite things about summer... All the yummy fresh fruit and veggie options.
Are you a snacker? Our country is full of them. As a population we are big snackers with over 25% of individuals being serial snackers (that’s eating multiple snacks per day), which isn’t a bad thing depending on what you choose to snack on. If you let it though, that snacking habit can become a real problem. Snacks can be sneaky.
The key to snacking -
#1 remember those calories do count! So if you’re trying to eat healthy or to lose weight, it’s important that you track your snack calories as well. Since snacks tend to be smaller portions than meals (or at least they should be) they are easily consumed without any thought. But those little snacks may be impacting your diet a lot more than you think.
#2 Try to avoid Mindless snacking! So often we consume snacks in a totally mindless way while doing other things like driving, working, watching TV, or scrolling social media. And since lots of snacks are calorically dense, that mindless snacking may be making a big impact on your waistline.
When it comes to eating healthy, our goal is to eat food. Real food! Unfortunately for some of us, the kind of food we eat when we snack plays a big part of our daily calories consumed. Because snack foods can vary in nutritional value it’s important that we try to eat healthier options when we can.
YES SNACKS CAN BE HEALTHY
When it comes to snack foods we have to change our definition of what qualifies as a snack. For most, “snack foods” tend to be sweet, salty, or both - candy bars, cookies, donuts, sugary carbonated beverages, and syrupy caffeinated beverages. However, something simple like mandarin oranges are great on a garden salad and in a fruit salad, but can also be a great on-the go healthy snack option by itself.
Like I said, I’m a big snacker, so here are a few of my favorite healthier summertime snack options:
FRUIT: a great source of vitamins and minerals as well as dietary fiber, antioxidants, and other nutrients. They are good for your arteries, and they can improve digestion and help fight cancer, obesity, and (despite their higher sugar content) even type 2 diabetes. And since they can be very sweet, you can satisfy that sweet tooth of yours with a few frozen grapes or tart cherries. Opt for real fruit. Fruit juice is just not the same thing!!
My favorite to-go fruits . . . Berries! I love me a bowl of mixed berries.
NUTS: My kids love nuts, plus they are an easy travel snack and loaded with high-quality protein, fiber, minerals, vitamin E, vitamin B6, folate, and so much more. Great for reducing heart disease, gallstones, obesity, as well as hypertension, inflammation, and type 2 diabetes.
Another great one that’s easy and kiddos love - SEEDS: sunflower to pumpkin - they’re delicious and come packed with a ton of health benefits same as nuts. And don’t forget about chia and flax seeds, versatile and great of combating peri/menopauseal symptom.
VEGGIES: Cut up raw carrots, bell peppers, cauliflower, and broccoli florets and dip them in hummus or another plant-based spread for a filling snack loaded with nutrients. If you’re feeling fancy, add some jicama and radishes to your plate. An old favorite from childhood - celery filled with peanut or other nut butter. If you want mindless snacking - raw veggies are your BFF.
I'm not a complete lunatic. And no, my kids don't just go to the frig and snack on raw veggies on their own, sometimes I have to bribe them with a little dip. Chickpea hummus is a great option to add with those veggies, or a side of avocado or fresh guac, or even a little seasoned plain Greek yogurt .
And don't forget a few of my other favorite kid-friendly healthy snacks, like:
raw fruit and nut bars
Dried, unsulfured fruit
Smoothies & shakes (keep an eye on the sugar with these)
Chopped frozen fruit (grapes are a great evening treat in this Texas summer heat)
Some fun easy summer snacks to make at home with the kids or grandkids:
Apple Nachos Supreme: The apple slices lightly drizzled with your choice of healthy caramel sauce or a nut butter, and topped with pretty much anything you like: popcorn, shredded coconut, non-dairy chocolate chips, nuts, raisins . . . make it fun!!
Nut Balls: A great on-the-go, little bite-sized balls of trail mix yumminess. The base consists of rolled oats, peanut butter, and maple syrup. The add-ins are up to you and your imagination: sunflower, sesame, and pumpkin seeds; dried and fresh fruits; and other yummies like carob or cacao powder and shredded coconut flakes.
A yummy snack by it’s self or a great combination for summertime cookouts - Spicy Sweet Potato Bakes. Take some long, thin sweet potatoes. Cut ‘em, and coat ‘em with just enough olive oil to make spices stick. Use spices like paprika, cayenne, onion powder, garlic powder, and more. Bake ‘em until you’ve got some fries you can resist.
So tell me, do you eat snacks? Do you have any favorite, go-to healthy snack ideas?
Do you have any snacking indulgences you’d like to stop?
I'd love to try your favorite summertime snack!