Heart Healthy Food Recipe Makeovers

Melanie Thomassian Health Pro
  • It’s 3:00pm, your energy levels are dropping, the vending machine seems to be calling your name, and to top it all off your resolve to avoid those unhealthy snacks is weakening with each passing second! What can you do?

    Well, the good news is that snacking can be good for you, but only if you choose wisely! In actual fact, one or two well-chosen snacks can help improve your day’s total nutritional intake.
     
    Snacking guidelines

    The most important thing to be aware of is the type of foods you’re snacking on. It’s wise to allow no more than 10% of your total day’s calorie intake for high fat, or sugar items - that would be around 194 Kcal’s for women, and 255 kcal’s for men.

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    Choose foods that don’t contain too much fat, sugar or salt, and look out for those that provide you with more calcium, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Take a look at your food labels and try to choose those containing:

    • Fat content less than 3 grams per 100 grams
    • Sugar content less than 2 grams per 100 grams
    • Sodium less than 0.1 grams per 100g

    Pack healthy snacks

    It’s easy enough to cut up a few carrots or celery sticks, add a handful of grape tomatoes, a pot of yogurt, some peanut butter, a hard-boiled egg, or some mixed, unsalted nuts, and add them to your lunchbox the night before.

    Let’s take a look at some common snacks, and how they could be substituted for healthier options.
     
    Note: calories are given in brackets
     
    #1 Pretzels

    2-ounces pretzels

    Total calories: 216

    Better option:

    • 1 small apple sliced (63)
    • 1-tablespoon peanut butter for dipping (95)
    • 20 raisins, sprinkled on top (31)

    Total calories: 189

    Rundown: The peanut butter and raisins will add extra staying power to a regular piece of fruit; helping you stay fuller longer than if you just ate the pretzels.
     
    #2 cereal bar

    Total calories: 140

    Better option:

    • 8 ounces low fat natural yogurt (143)
    • Handful of raspberries and blueberries (17)
    • 25 grams multigrain oatmeal cereal (15)

    Total calories: 175

    Rundown: It’s often assumed that cereal bars are good for you, however they’re often lower in fibre, and loaded with sugar compared to their cereal counterparts.

    By adding mixed berries, cereal and yogurt together it makes a more balanced snack, which will sustain you for longer.

    #3 Chocolate and chips

    • 1-ounce potato chips (152)
    • 65 grams of milk chocolate (54)

    Total calories: 206
     
    Better option:

    • 1-ounce trail mix, with chocolate chips, mixed nuts and seeds (137)
    • 1 small orange (45)

    Total calories: 182

    Rundown: nuts and seeds make a very substantial snack, the addition of a little chocolate will also satisfy any craving for sweetness, and a small orange adds to your daily fruit intake.

    #4 Donuts and coffee

    • 90 grams Starbucks Triple Chocolate Cupcake (360)
    • 16 fl ounces Starbucks Café Mocha (330)

    Total calories: 690

    Better option:

    • ½ Starbucks low fat blueberry muffin (158)
    • 12 fl ounces Starbucks Café au Lait (80)

    Total calories: 238

    Rundown: Sometimes a trip away from home requires eating out, however it’s still possible to choose healthier snacks.


  • You can save major calories by simply opting for a regular coffee, rather than the fat loaded options, and by sharing a lower fat muffin, you could more than half the calories of the original option.

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    Remember, it’s not always possible to make a perfect snack selection, however you can always make a better choice by opting for foods that have a higher nutritional content, and/or are lower in calories.

     

    Read more of Melanie's snacking tips!

    How to Stock Your Kitchen in No Time for Healthy Meals

    Popular Snacking Myths Debunked!

    Myth Buster Quiz

    Melanie Thomassian is a registered dietitian, and author of the award winning Dietriffic.com.

Published On: June 06, 2008