August 9, 2018
Anita Ratterman, RDN, CSO, LDN, Oncology Critical Care Dietitian
As summer winds to an end and a new school year starts, it’s time to start planning for school lunches and snacks.
Snacking can be a great way to keep hunger at bay or give us the energy to get through an after-school activity or team practice.
Most of us snack throughout the day. Since snacking is so much a part of how we eat, it’s important to be smart about the snacks we choose.
What makes a smart snack?
A smart snack should help to fill nutrient gaps. Be smart about what you snack on by choosing nutrient-rich foods, like fruits and veggies, whole grains and nuts that help nourish your body.
A smart snack should fit your lifestyle. Snacking shouldn’t be a hassle, so figure out what works best for you or your student.
If you or your kids are always on the go, find snacks that are portable, easy to eat and don’t need to be refrigerated.
A smart snack should taste good. Research shows that taste is the most important factor when choosing foods, so don’t torture yourself with snacks you don’t like. Find snacks you enjoy and look forward to eating.
Smart snack options
It is often easy and tempting to grab an energy bar as a quick snack. Read the label carefully as some bars tend to be more like a candy bar than a healthy snack.
Look for bars with:
As you glance at the nutrition label, look for whole, real ingredients with names you recognize, like nuts, seeds and fruit.
Around 200 calories
Remember, energy bars aren’t meals, they’re snacks. So while you don’t want a bar that packs a meal’s worth of calories, you do want one that has enough calories to stave off hunger and boost your energy.
Low in sugar
Many energy bars sneak in extra sugar. Aim for a bar with no more than 15 grams of sugar, but 12 grams or less is even better. Speaking of sweet stuff, avoid bars with high-fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners in the ingredients list.
Full of fiber
Fiber is what keeps you feeling fuller, longer, so check that your chosen bar has at least 3 grams of fiber per serving.
Packed with protein
Protein is another nutrient that crushes hunger. It’s especially important if you’re grabbing a bar for a post-workout snack. Consuming protein right after you exercise helps you repair and rebuild muscle. Look for bars with 5 grams or more of protein per serving.
Try the recipe below for a healthy homemade bar.
Fall Harvest Granola Bars
Calories: 184; Fat: 8 grams; Total Carbohydrate: 27 grams; Dietary Fiber: 4 grams; Sugar: 14 grams; Protein: 5 grams
Recipe modified from The Seasoned Mom as adapted from Nutrimom