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OSU Extension

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

October 30, 2018 - 8:01am -- Anonymous

Fall is in full swing and cooler temperatures are finally here.  As the holidays approach and the thermometer dips, we tend to hibernate and snack on all sorts of finger foods that surround us, making healthy snacking habits a challenge.  According to an article from Tufts University, the percentage of daily calories we consume from snacks has doubled since the 1970’s, totaling about 500 calories a day.  We are now snacking more than ever before, so what is a healthy snack, and how do we make the healthy choice the easy choice?  First, remember these healthy snacking habits from Michigan State University Extension:

Simple:  Simple foods are made with without lots of added sugar, salt, or fat.

Nutritious:  Fruits and vegetables are best, but low-fat cheese, nuts, seeds, and whole grain products make healthy snacks too!

Available and affordable:  When healthy foods are on hand you are more likely to eat them!

Colorful:  Challenge yourself to eat different colors of fruits and vegetables every day.

Kid-sized:  Keep portions small; snacks are not a meal. Try to include two food groups.

Using the acronym SNACK helps us remember five helpful tools to assist in a healthy snack routine. Now that we know what a healthy snack is, let’s move on to making healthy snacks the easy choice. There are many tips and tricks for choosing healthy, affordable snacks:

  1. Keep non-perishable snacks on hand. Nuts, seeds, crackers, pretzels, and even a granola bar are easy items to keep in the car or at work.
  2. Avoid spending extra money on fast food by having snacks on hand. Invest in a few small reusable containers to portion snacks out for the week.
  3. Many fruits like apples, bananas and oranges make great grab-and-go snacks.
  4. Wash and cut up your vegetables after you bring them home; you’re more likely to eat them that way.
  5. Peanut butter is a great addition to many snacks. Allergic? Try other nut butters to add protein to your snacks.

If you are still having trouble choosing healthy snacks, try out some of these ideas:

- Carrot sticks or bell pepper slices

- A whole wheat tortilla filled with chopped veggies

- Celery stuffed with peanut butter

- Fruit smoothie

- Sliced apples with peanut butter

- Yogurt (but watch for sugar)

- Cheese slices with apple wedges

- String cheese

- Hard-cooked eggs

- Peanut butter on crackers

- Bean dip (like hummus) with crackers or vegetables

- Mini rice cakes or popcorn cakes with peanut butter

- Popcorn or granola

- Trail mix--ready-to-eat cereals mixed with dried fruit, nuts, or seeds

Already a pro at making healthy snacks? Change things up by trying a new fruit or vegetable. Try to include at least two or more food groups in your snacks. If you’re not quite ready to choose yogurt or vegetables, begin with small changes. Try baked chips instead of fried. Like popcorn?  Try an air popper so you can choose the amount of butter and seasonings. Is chocolate your favorite snack?  Make your own trail mix with nuts, seeds, dried fruits, whole grain cereals, and add a few chocolate chips into the mix! Remember, it’s never too late to start a healthy snack routine. Whether you’re at home or on the go you can make healthy, affordable snacks the easy choice.