What's your favorite healthy thing to eat for a snack?

I think snacks can be a very important part of a healthy diet. Choosing healthy snacks can help people stay fuller longer, which can help prevent them from consuming too many calories at a meal. It is important to note, however, that not all snacks are created equal. The “snack” food aisle in the supermarket is filled with snacks that I would not advice my patients regularly consume. Items like potato chips, tortilla chips, buttery popcorn and corn chips may not be healthy additions to one’s diet.

The first thing that I tell my patients to do when choosing healthy snacks would be to try to combine a protein with a complex carbohydrate. These two nutrients deliver just the right amount of energy to help keep you going all day long. Now I suggest that patients get creative with choosing their snacks. For example, while almonds are a fantastic and healthy snack, they can get boring after a while. So jazz them up by putting them on top of a peanut butter celery stick! This is a modified take on “ants on a log”. You could create some extra special snacks by experimenting with making your own healthy spreads! I made a sunflower/lentil spread the other day! Take one can of rinsed lentils and blend with salt/pepper and lemon juice. Then add diced scallions, celery, and sunflower seeds. I served this dip with pita bread. I recently also made my own pesto dip, but I did it on a budget! Regular pesto contains a few pricey ingredients (basil/pine nuts) so I like to modify my recipe in a few ways. Instead of only using basil I combine some basil along with flat leaf spinach. That way it still has a wonderful green color that is very vitamin rich. In addition, I substitute almonds for pine nuts! The almonds add a great crunchy flavor and they are still high in healthy fat and protein. Now I get out my food processor and blend these ingredients along with olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice together and the result is a colorful, aromatic and delicious dip. You can spread this over crusty bread or top a healthy pasta dish.

Healthy snacks don’t necessarily need to be “prepared” either. Cottage cheese topped with fresh fruit is an awesome snack and I have said many times how much I like a good fruit and yogurt smoothie. A good old apple paired with a glass of milk is another example of a high protein/carbohydrate filled treat. One of my patients told me that her favorite snack was an avocado stuffed with cottage cheese. I had never even thought to combine these two things together but I tried it and it was excellent. I put my own spin on it by adding a little crunch (chia seeds) and it was a great snack. Sometimes when I want a snack but don’t want to prepare anything I simply pour myself a nice bowl of cereal. High fiber Kashi cereals and low fat milk really fill me up and satisfies me. Other snack ideas include a hummus and baked kale chips, rice cakes topped with 2% cheese slices, or fresh cut veggies with low fat dip.

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