Snacks can be a healthy part of your day. They're important for growing children and teenagers. They also play an important role for athletes who need fuel pre and post- exercise. Finally they are essential for populations who cannot consume a lot of food at each main meal, which may include the elderly, people with GI disorders, and pregnant women.
Snacks can be fun but also complete and nutritious, providing a balance of nutrients. Look for ways to combine different elements into your snack versus filling up on one thing. Snacks can be categorized as energy dense or nutrient dense. Energy dense snacks are high in calories but low in nutrients, such as candy bars and chips. Nutrient dense snacks are high in nutrients but may not be high in calories, such as sliced apples, baby carrots, and cucumber. However, while these items may be great nutritional choices you may not feel full and satisfied after eating them due to their low calorie content. So try to pair these items with a healthy fat or protein. Try these balanced snack ideas to get your nutrients but also feel full longer:
Sliced apples with nut butter (peanut, almond, cashew, etc.) or sliced cheese
Cucumber or pepper slices and pita chips with hummus
Toast with... smashed avocado; peanut butter and banana; cream cheese and cucumbers; ricotta cheese and blueberries; egg and pesto
Greek yogurt with fruit, granola, nuts and/or seeds on top
Whole grain tortilla chips with pico de gallo
Pita bread stuffed with hummus, sliced avocado, olives, and/or tomatoes