Sunday, January 2

Healthy Snacking


With the start of a new year and resolutions being made, I thought I would share a list of healthy snacks for those of you desiring to make healthy changes to your family's lifestyle. Diets for losing weight really only work for the short term, so it's important to make changes to your whole family's daily diet. It will benefit more than your waistline. By instilling healthy eating habits now, while you still have control over what your children eat, you are giving your child the gift of health. Here are some tips before I go any further:

Tip #1: If you want your family to stop eating junk food, you have to STOP buying it. Period. If it's in the house, they will choose Cheetos and Twinkies over yogurt and fruit every time. 
 
Tip #2: Believe me, you are NOT depriving yourself or them. After a period of eating good food, the junk food won't taste quite as good. And if you are feeding them healthier stuff at home, you won't feel as bad when they eat less nutritious things at a party or you eat fast food every once in a while.

Tip #3: Fruit Loops and Lucky Charms are junk food, not a healthy breakfast or a snack food. Adding vitamins and a little whole grain to a vat of sugar and artificial colors doesn't make it healthy. I had to add this because it has been my husband's last hold out. I do buy cereal on rare occasions, but it is usually Cheerios or Mom's Best Naturals (dh likes their Mallow Oats) or an organic brand on sale.

Tip #4: Yogurt that is colored like a rainbow, tastes like Key Lime Pie or Chocolate Fudge, or comes in a tube is more like a dessert than a nutritious snack. It has too much sugar, artificial colors, and artificial flavors. If it's artificially sweetened, that just makes it less healthy. Buy a large container of organic plain or vanilla, low-fat yogurt and add fruit and honey to flavor.
We are a family of snackers. So when we made the change (actually, a series of changes) to healthier eating, I had to come up with several healthy alternatives to tame my snacking beasts. I aim for natural, whole foods as much as possible and staple foods that have had minimal processing. In order to maintain my sanity and harmony in our home, I also purchase some convenience foods. But these convenience foods must meet specific criteria to be considered worthy of being eaten by my family.

Here are many of our regular snacks:
  • Fresh or frozen fruit {Buy extra berries when in-season and freeze.}
  • Fresh veggies (with or without dip)
  • Air-popped popcorn (drizzled w/ extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled w/ sea salt, lemon pepper, chili powder, etc.) {We LOVE our hot air popcorn popper.}
  • Apple slices or celery and peanut butter {Choose organic apples when available because they are healthier and taste much better. Let older kids use an apple corer/slicer to lessen your workload.}
  • Fruit smoothies (add a few baby carrots, ground flaxseed, yogurt) {If you're brave and really want to add nutrition, try a green smoothie.}
  • Tortilla chips and salsa, black bean dip, or guacamole {Love the salsa at your fave Mexican restaurant? Ask for the recipe or buy some to take home. It will keep for several days to a week, usually.}
  • Hummus and pita chips {We really like Sabra Spinach and Artichoke Hummus. I get it at Sam's Club. Or you can make your own.}
  • Fruit salad {Combine your choice of chopped apples, pears, oranges or mandarin orange slices, halved grapes, pineapple chunks, diced peaches, and seasonal fruits in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate to let juices mingle. Add sliced bananas before serving.}
  • String cheese (organic is best)
  • Hard-boiled eggs {Boil a half dozen or more one day a week to have on hand for snacking, egg salad sandwiches, chef salads, or egg sauce over toast. An egg slicer makes the job of chopping much easier and is a great job for kids.}
  • Yogurt (organic, plain or vanilla) {Make your own yogurt. Replace sour cream with organic whole milk plain yogurt.}
  • Yogurt parfait (yogurt, granola or muesli, fruit)
  • Fruited yogurt (plain, organic yogurt w/mashed fresh or thawed frozen fruit & honey)
  • Green salad (any greens other than iceberg lettuce, add chopped veggies, dried fruit, nuts/seeds, vinaigrette) {Get kids to eat more salad by setting up a salad bar at home with all the fixings and let them make their own.}
  • Granola (homemade is better than store-bought)
  • Trail mix (we like dried cranberries, pecans or walnuts, dark chocolate chips)
  • Nuts (handful of pecans, walnuts, almonds, cashews) {Have a hard time digesting nuts? Look into soaking/dehydrating them to make them easier to digest.}
  • Whole wheat pretzels
  • Whole grain muffins {"Healthify" a favorite recipe by replacing all or some of the oil with applesauce, reducing or replacing some of the sugar with honey, or substituting whole wheat pastry flour. Try my banana, blueberry oat, or pumpkin chocolate chip muffins.} 
  • Natural peanut butter (or other nut butter) on whole grain toast {Spread a thin layer of nut butter on warm toast, it just melts in. Yum! Make your own peanut butter.}
  • Natural applesauce {Read the ingredients because most applesauce has high fructose corn syrup added. Make your own applesauce.}
  • Frozen juice pops (homemade w/100% juice or smoothies) {Stock up on good quality popsicle molds.}

Do you have a favorite healthy snack? 
Do you have any questions about making healthy changes to your family's diet? 


4 comments:

  1. Thanks for the great ideas and reminders. We too like to snack. Funny, I never thought of replacing the snacks with healthy, just an all or nothing thought of cutting them out. May have to change our approach here.

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  2. Please never look in our cupboards!! LOL ;)

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  3. Kerri, no judgements here. :) I used to buy all of that stuff and not think twice about it. Then God opened my eyes and I began to learn about the connection between our health and what we eat. Then I discovered that my boys were having problems with some of the things they were eating. Once you learn something, you can't unlearn it...you have to do something about it.

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  4. We are very like minded...this is a good post! I just started following. I look forward to what else you have to say!!

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