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Combination Snacks

Friday, August 7, 2015

In just a few weeks, the school busses will be rolling and children across the region will come home every day with homework and hungry bellies!  School children often eat very early lunches at school, some as early as 10:30 in the morning.  By the time those kiddos get home in the afternoon, they really are hungry and providing a good healthy snack is critical for sustained energy and concentration.   The goal is to provide a combination snack packed with nutrition.

Eating snack foods with little nutritional value such as potato chips does not provide the necessary energy for play, sports, and school.  The chips also contribute to childhood obesity.  A 2013 Cornell University study found that children consumed 72% fewer calories when eating a combination pack of cheese and vegetables compared with when they were served potato chips.  In addition, children eating healthy combination snacks needed significantly fewer calories to feel full compared to those who ate potato chips.  The outcome of eating combination snacks is feeling fuller longer.  The key is combining a good carbohydrate such as fresh fruit with a protein such as Greek yogurt.  

So what can you serve for snack time?  Here are a few combinations that taste great, are nutrient packed and won’t break the piggy bank:

  1. Make your own smoothie – In a blender or food processor, combine one cup of fresh or frozen fruit and six ounces of plain yogurt.  (Buy yogurt in large containers as it is cheaper than individual containers.)

  2. One cup of assorted veggies such as carrots, peppers, celery, broccoli, zucchini, or sugar snap peas with 3-4 ounces real cheese.  

  3. One cup assorted veggies with hummus, guacamole, or any yogurt-based dip.

  4. One cup fresh fruit such as apples or bananas with peanut butter or yogurt.

  5. Whole wheat bread or pita and turkey, cheese, tuna or peanut better/jelly.  

  6. Whole wheat crackers and cheese or peanut butter.

  7. Mini Pizzas. Take whole wheat English muffins and top with marinara sauce, grated cheese and any topping (veggies/meat). Put in the toaster oven and voila a mini pizza.

  8. Cookies and milk.  Some days you just want a cookie and that is OK.   On occasion, make cookies with added raisins, nuts and oats. Serve with low-fat milk, soy milk, or almond milk.  

Remember that energy needs of children vary depending on their activity level and age.  Children in sports or going through a growth spurt often need more calories.  Overall, keep nutrition in perspective.  Look at the big picture, that is, what snacks are being consumed most of the time and make adjustments accordingly.  Until next week, be well and eat well!

Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at Noyes Health in Dansville.  If you have questions or suggestions for future articles she can be reached at lwichtowski@noyeshealth.org or 585-335-4327.  

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