It’s Heart Month, and it’s a good idea to gradually add more heart-healthy foods to your overall diet. One strategy is to choose well at snack time!
Of course tried and true “health foods” like fresh fruits and veggies are always a great snack to enjoy anytime:
- Fresh apples or pears
- Fresh berries or melon
- Raw carrots and bell pepper slices – dip in hummus
- Banana with a smidge of peanut butter
- 15-20 almonds or walnuts
Since the DASH diet guidelines also encourage you to include 2-3 servings of low fat dairy daily, enjoying a low fat yogurt or an ounce of low fat cheese at snack time is a great choice too. Low fat string cheese is convenient, as it’s individually wrapped and easy to take with you.
Of course you can also snack on popcorn. Popping your own with unsaturated oil (like peanut or safflower oil) is best, and popcorn provides a good dose of fiber too.
Health Food On the Go
Having healthy snacks with you when you are away from home is a good strategy to ensuring you choose well. Almonds and apples are two of our favorite snacks. We keep a large jar of almonds in the van for road trips, and I keep a small tin of them in my purse for times when I’m late for a meal and hungry. I enjoy apples sliced when at home, but they hold up well in the car or in a briefcase too. Be sure to take a fresh fruit or raw veggies with you to work or on road trips, so you’ll be able to meet your goal of 4 or more servings daily.
Craving something sweet or crunchy?
The purpose of snacks is to offer you some nutrition and energy to hold you over until the next meal, or they may even substitute for a meal at times when your schedule is hectic. While nuts and fruit make great snacks, sometimes you may be craving something else, or you may simply want something convenient. For this reason, I do recommend keeping some packaged snacks on hand.
KIND recently sent me a sample of their snack bars. They are mostly nuts, and some contain some fruit. The nut bars are higher in protein, and they also carry a “Plus” line that includes antioxidant vitamins – A, C and E. Each bar provides 180-220 calories and about 3-5 grams of fiber. If you suffer from any food intolerances, they are gluten free (and some are wheat free and dairy free as well).
Two things I like about these bars: 1. They taste really good! (my favorite was the cashew and ginger spice) 2. They have basic ingredients (although they do add chicory root fiber). Give them a try!
For most packaged snack bars, read the label, and check out the calories and fiber content. Choose bars with minimal ingredients or additives, and don’t use bars as a daily nutritional crutch, but instead as a convenient stay-fresh food to keep on hand for those times when you’re time-crunched.