Smart, Healthy Snacks: Eat to Energize

By Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D.

You're busy, and sitting down to three meals a day may be a thing of the past, at least for now. Snacking your way through the day is OK, as long as you snack smart. Here are some simple rules of thumb to get the good nutrition you need to stay energized.

Think of snacks as mini-meals, not treats.

Cookies, candy, and the rest of your child's chicken nuggets and fries are not the best snacks because they don't provide the nutrients moms need to keep going, especially if you're pregnant or breastfeeding.

Always include protein and complex carbohydrates.

Protein and fiber keep you fuller for longer. In addition, protein-packed foods, including eggs, dairy products, and soy, are also loaded with other nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals. Complex carbohydrates, like fiber, are present in such healthy foods as fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Plan to snack.

Snacks should be part of your daily calorie allowance to gain (during pregnancy), maintain, or lose weight. Don't forget to account for snack calories.

These suggestions take the guess-work out of healthy snacks:

Sip It:

Prepare this Cinnamon Pumpkin Smoothie with regular milk or soy milk: Combine 1 cup milk, 1 cup canned pumpkin puree, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 2 ice cubes in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Pour into a tall glass and drink immediately.

Cherry Vanilla Sipper: Combine ¾ cup frozen sweet pitted cherries, 1 cup plain low-fat yogurt, ½ teaspoon vanilla extract and 2 ice cubes in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Pour into a tall glass and drink immediately.

Almond Delight: Combine 1 peeled medium banana, 1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons almond butter, and 3 ice cubes in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Pour into a tall glass and drink immediately.

Dip It:

  • Hummus paired with baby carrots and cherry tomatoes
  • Peanut butter, soy nut butter, or sunflower seed butter and whole wheat pretzels
  • Low-fat Greek yogurt and sliced apple or pear

Munch It:

  • One or two hard-cooked eggs and whole wheat crackers
  • Low-fat microwave popcorn (popcorn is a fiber-filled whole grain) tossed with Parmesan cheese
  • Plain Greek yogurt mixed with 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts and drizzled with honey or molasses
About the Author

Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D., is a registered dietitian, a writer, and mother of three. She has worked at the Joslin Diabetes Center and the American Heart Association, and for seven years counseled children and adults about healthy eating and disease prevention at Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates in Boston.

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