Healthy Snacks to Go

Patrika Tsai Health Guide

    School is back in session, and kids and parents are busy shuttling from class to sports practice and music lessons. Making sure that everyone has enough fuel to get the most out of school and extracurricular activities is an important responsibility as a parent. While chips and candy from a vending machine or French fries at a fast food restaurant are often tempting, they will not provide proper nutrition for young bodies and minds. Try these suggestions for healthy snacks that are portable and budget-friendly.


    Water. Staying hydrated is crucial, particularly for budding athletes. Soda, sports drinks, and juice boxes may be popular and convenient, but they provide unnecessary sugar and calories. Water is actually the healthier and cheaper choice. Pack a bottle of water in your child's book bag or in the car. Reusable water bottles now come in a variety of designs. If you are worried about chemicals from plastic, your child can pick a water bottle made from stainless steel. You can put the bottle in the freezer overnight to have cold water the next day.

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    Nuts. Nuts and seeds are an excellent source of protein that is important for growing bodies. They also contain vegetable fat or oil which provide energy. While you may be concerned about the consuming too much fat, certain nuts like walnuts have actually been shown to decrease LDL cholesterol which is often known as the "bad cholesterol." Nuts are the perfect travel food since they do not spoil and can survive the rough and tumble of a child's backpack.


    Dairy. Nonfat yogurt or a small piece of cheese contains protein as well as calcium which is needed for strong bones. Combined with whole grain foods like granola or whole wheat crackers, these foods are both filling and nutritious.


    Whole grains. Whole grain breads and crackers have more fiber than bread, crackers, or cookies made from more refined white flour. The fiber will help satisfy hunger pangs. Whole grain foods also have more protein. A piece of whole wheat toast can be paired with peanut butter or a slice of low-fat cheese for a healthy snack.


    Fruits and vegetables. Whole fruits or sliced fruits provide fiber that is greatly lacking in the typical American diet. Fruits contain antioxidants which are needed by the body to repair itself and prevent cancer and heart disease. Whole apples, nectarines, oranges and other fruits travel well in the car. Dried fruits like raisins or cranberries are good alternatives. Even vegetables can be an easy snack. Baby carrots are ready-to-eat. Many grocery stores also have celery sticks that are washed and pre-cut. Grape and cherry tomatoes are a tasty treat.


    Healthy eating requires a little preparation. Adding these food items to your grocery list will ensure that your children have access to foods that will nourish the developing body and brain. Happy snacking!

Published On: August 27, 2008

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