For optimum nutrition, base your snacks around fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and low-fat dairy products. Avoid snacking on foods that just provide empty calories with no nutritional benefits. Many of these provide you with a quick sugar boost now, but a crash later.
You can always grab a piece of fruit, a handful of nuts or some string cheese, but if you'd like something a little more interesting, here are some simple recipes and snack suggestions for when the mid-morning munchies hit:
Fruit and yogurt salad: Mix together one medium apple, chopped in bite-size pieces; 1/2 cup grapes; one container low-sugar or sugar-free yogurt (vanilla or strawberry make good choices); and 1/4 cup chopped walnuts.
Cinnamon tortilla chips: cut flour tortillas in wedges and toast in the oven for 5 minutes or so at 375 degrees F. Top with a cinnamon sugar (or sugar substitute) combination.
Greek yogurt sundae: Top plain Greek-style yogurt with one of the following combinations: honey and cinnamon; cherry preserves and chopped walnuts; fresh sliced fruit and honey.
Simple trail mix: Combine one cup of your favorite nuts (almonds, walnuts, peanuts, pistachios, pecans, etc.) with 1/2 cup pumpkin or sunflower seeds. Add 1 cup of a dried fruit, like raisins, apricots, cherries or blueberries. For added sweetness, stir in 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips. You can also add your favorite low-sugar cereal, pretzels or sesame sticks to the mix. Trail mix is a concentrated source of calories, so limit your serving size to around 1/4 cup.
Hummus with raw vegetables: Hummus provides a small dose of protein to go with the vitamins and fiber of fresh vegetables. You can buy commercial brands of hummus, but making it is quite simple. Combine one can of drained chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans), two cloves garlic, two tablespoons lemon juice (or to taste) and a couple of tablespoons tahini in a blender or food processor and process into a paste. Add salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle a little olive oil over the top.
Mozzarella English muffin: Top half of a whole wheat English muffin with a slice of tomato, one ounce of part-skim mozzarella cheese and some chopped fresh basil. Broil in oven until cheese melts and bubbles.
The next time you've got the mid-morning munchies, don't hit the vending machines or pull out a bag of cookies or chips. Treat yourself to a healthy snack that will fuel your body and brain, and keep you going until lunchtime.
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