University of Illinois Extension

Food for Thought - University of Illinois Extension

Healthy Snacks

Snacking has become a way of life for both adultsand children. A recent study reported that over 95 percent of thewomen and children in this country have at least one snack each day.

Many common snack foods are high in fat, sugar and sodium. If these foods are used for snacks frequently, they can affect our health.

Snacks can be good for us if we make good choices. Children especially may benefit from healthy snacks. They often cannot eat enough at three meals a day to satisfy their hunger and provide all of the nutrients they need. Snacks can provide the additional foods they need.

Snack Tips

  • Plan snacks as a part of the day's food plan.
  • When shopping, let children help pick out fruits, vegetables and cheeses; they will be more interested in eating them.
  • Set aside a "snack spot" in the refrigerator and cupboard; keep it stocked with nutritious ready-to-eat snacks.
  • Offer snacks at regular times, such as midmorning and midafternoon. Don't let children nibble constantly during the day.
  • Avoid high sugar, fatty and salty snacks, such as candy and soda pop.
  • Snacks are a good way to introduce new foods. Include a game or activity to learn about the new food; let the child help fix it.
  • Plan snacks to help meet the suggested number of servings per day from the Food Guide Pyramid: 6 to 11 servings breads, cereal, rice and pasta; 2 to 4 servings fruits; 3 to 5 servings milk, cheese and yogurt; and 2 to 3 servings meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts and dry beans.
  • Never offer food as a reward for good behavior.

Simple Healthy Snack Ideas

  • Raw vegetables, such as celery, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, green pepper, green beans, cucumbers, mushrooms or zucchini. May be served with a lowfat dip.
  • Fresh fruit in season, cut in slices or halves, such as apples, oranges, bananas, peaches, grapefruit, grapes, melons, pears, plums or strawberries.
  • Lowfat quick breads and muffins, such as pumpkin, zucchini, banana or bran.
  • Non-sugared cereals, snack mixes made with popcorn and whole grain cereal.
  • Lowfat yogurt with fresh, frozen or canned fruit.
  • Shakes with lowfat milk or yogurt and fruit.
  • Unsweetened fruit juices.

Easter Food Fun

Wrap small Easter candies or jelly beans in colored plastic wrap and hang from an Easter "tree."

Color code the Easter egg hunt. Assign an egg color to each child - even the littlest or slowest egg hunters won't end up with an empty basket.

Remember hard cooked eggs should not be left at room temperature for more than two hours. And hard cooked eggs will not keep forever in the refrigerator - plan on using within 3 to 5 days after cooking.

Maybe the best choice of eggs for egg hunts is plastic. They are fairly inexpensive, reusable, can be filled with treats if desired, will stand up to hard treatment by excited children tossing them in baskets and are not a food safety hazard.

Hard Cooked Eggs

Do you know that eggs really should not be boiled? Boiling eggs at a full, rolling boil makes the white tough and rubbery.

Here's how to do it:

  • Cover eggs in pan with enough water to come at least one inch above the eggs.
  • Cover pan and rapidly bring just to boiling.
  • Turn off heat and let eggs stand in the hot water for 15-20 minutes.
  • Take them out of that water and run cold water over them to cool them quickly.

Egg Salad

6 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
1/3 cup pickle relish
2 T. lowfat salad dressing or mayonnaise
1 T. prepared mustard
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper

Combine all of the ingredients. Mix well and chill. Use 1/3 cup of filling per sandwich. Makes 6 sandwiches.

Potato & Egg Casserole

4 cups cooked potatoes, diced
6 hard-cooked eggs, sliced
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 cup lowfat milk
1/2 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper
1/2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1/4 t. dill seed

Place potatoes and eggs in greased 2-quart casserole. Blend soup, milk and seasonings. Pour over potatoes and eggs. Top with cheese. Bake at 375°F until hot and bubbly, about 55 minutes. 6 servings.