Healthy Snacks

Snacking has become a way of life for both adults and children. A recent study reported that over 95 percent of the women 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 for snacks. They will be more interested in eating these foods if they have been involved in selecting 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 and 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 from the breads, cereal, rice and pasta group; 3 to 5 servings from the vegetable group; 2 to 4 servings from the fruit group; 2 to 3 servings from the milk, cheese and yogurt group; and 2 to 3 servings meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts and dry beans group.
  • 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.

Pyramid Tortilla Recipe

Here is an easy to do snack. For each person you will need:

1 8-inch tortilla
2 ounces thin sliced turkey or ham
2 Tablespoons shredded cheese
1/4 cup shredded lettuce
1 Tablespoon raisins
Lowfat mayonnaise, cream cheese, or margarine

Give each person a tortilla. Have them spread with mayonnaise, margarine or cream cheese. Then layer on the meat, cheese, lettuce and raisins. Roll up and enjoy.

This snack could also be made using a slice of bread or an English muffin.

Written by: Barbara Farner, Extension Educator, Nutrition and Wellness, University of Illinois Extension. Manteno Extension Center.

Edited by: Katherine J. Reuter, Educator, Consumer and Family Economics Countryside Extension Center

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