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Simply Nutritious, Quick and Delicious

Jenna Smith, Extension Educator brings you helpful tips to make meals easy, healthy and tasty!

Smart Snacking

Someone recently told me that in an attempt to lose weight they would cut out all snacks. However, I had to warn them that this may not produce the results that they're hoping for. Some studies show that those people who include snacks in their day actually consume fewer calories than those who do not snack. Snacks help curb the appetite and therefore, help you to not overeat at mealtimes.

But that doesn't mean that we can just snack on anything at any time. In fact, there are three things that you need to think about when snacking:

  1. "What are you snacking on?" Snacks should still be healthy, which means that those high calorie desserts, potato chips, candies and sweetened beverages should not be used as regular snacks. Instead, choose snacks with staying power. Snacks with fiber and/or protein are digested slowly to help you feel full for longer and not leave you with craving more. A handful of nuts, peanut butter on apple slices, cheese and whole grain crackers, or high fiber cereal with low-fat milk are a few healthy choices that will leave you feeling satisfied. Try using snacks to make up for food groups you may have missed during meals. For example, if you missed your fruit serving at lunch, choose a pear, plum or your favorite fruit for a snack. Snacks can be great opportunities to get in those important nutrients.
  2. "How much are you eating?"Snacks are small amounts of food to help satisfy hunger until the next meal. Aim for snacks that are between 100 to 200 calories.Try buying pre-portioned food or portion it yourself to avoid overeating.This can also help the "mindless eater." Listen to your body to decide whether or not a snack is actually needed or not.Don't eat just because it's in front of you!When you do sit down to eat your meals and snacks, do so in an environment that minimizes distractions.Avoid eating in front of the t.v. or computer but rather focus on the food in front of you; you'll savor it so much more!
  3. "When are you snacking?" Snacks are meant to be eaten between meals but spaced 2-3 hours before or after the meal. If you find yourself eating only an hour after you've eaten your meal, you either are eating when you're not really hungry (boredom) or you didn't have the right combination of foods for your meal to satisfy your body. Also, you should only have one (100-200 calorie) snack between meals; not two or three. Didn't mom ever tell you, "don't eat too much or you'll spoil your dinner?"

If you think you may need a snack to get you through until the next meal, make a plan for a healthy snack option. Without a plan, you'll likely find yourself at the office vending machine or local convenience store. Plan on bringing fruit, yogurt, or cheese to work, and place it in the fridge in case it's needed. Store nuts, whole grain crackers, or even small pieces of chocolate in your desk drawer, but prepackage them so you're not tempted to over eat. Snacks can fit into a healthy diet plan, but you must learn to be a smart snacker!

Frozen Bananas (Serves 4)

2 Tbsps. reduced fat peanut butter

½ cup evaporated skim milk

2 bananas, cut in half

½ cup chopped nuts or crunchy bran cereal

Mix peanut butter with skim milk. Roll bananas in peanut butter mixture. Then roll in nuts or cereal. Place in freezer until frozen.

Nutrition Facts (per serving) - Calories 144  ~ fat 3 g ~ calories from fat 27  ~ sodium 124 mg ~ total carbohydrate 26 g ~ fiber 3 g

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