When working from home, we wind up in front of the fridge or shuffling through the pantry a lot more than usual. Choosing these snacks mindfully will lead to greater satisfaction and greater nourishment for your body, keeping you energized all day long. Registered Dietitian, Olivia Wagner (MS, RDN, LDN, IFNCP) gave us four tips to snack for satisfaction.
Choose a Nutrient-Dense Snack
Snacks with whole food ingredients, color and a balance of macronutrients (protein, fiber and fat) are ideal. To avoid fatigue, over-hunger and headaches that can come with blood sugar spikes and falls, build snacks that pair quality carbohydrates with either protein or fat. These will keep blood sugar balanced in between meal times as needed. Aim for one serving of produce with snack when possible and think of the following:
-Produce + Protein ( jerky + veggies, nut butter and fruit, salmon salad + cucumbers) OR
-Fat + Fiber ( ¼ cup nuts, guacamole + veggies)
Avoid Snack Fatigue
You can still keep a template for snacks (i.e fruit + nuts/seeds OR veggies + dip) while maintaining variety! Challenge yourself to try a different fruit, vegetable or nut with each shopping trip. Or, try a new dip with this week’s meal prep to really keep you on your toes. Some ultimate snack combos include:
-Blueberries + macadamia nuts
-Cucumbers + red pepper walnut dip
-Nectarine + pumpkin seeds
Changing the appearance or texture of your snack can also aid in snack fatigue, for both you and your kids. For example:
Apple + Almond Butter = Apple Nachos
-1 sliced apple, ½ tbsp drizzled almond butter topped with 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds and 1 tsp cacao nibs
Hard Boiled Egg + Handful of Nut/Seed Based Crackers = Egg Stackers
-Slice 1 hard boiled egg, spread a thin layer of spicy mustard or guac on to crackers, then stack the sliced egg on top! Try topping with a pinch of your favorite sauerkraut for a probiotic boost. (Alternatively, you can mash the hardboiled egg into an egg salad for a texture change.)
Bell Peppers + Hummus = Bell Pepper Boats
-Fill ½ bell pepper with 2 tbsp hummus. You can even stick a whole food based pita chip in the center as a sail.
Adding phytonutrient herbs, spices, and aromatics is another way to keep snack time interesting and add new flavors, for example:
-Dress up regular raw almonds with a pinch of curry powder or cinnamon and then low roast or dehydrate
-Add lemon zest or fresh basil to your avocado mash or hummus
-Add a pinch of nutmeg to your coconut yogurt or peach with sunbutter
Prep Your Snacks Ahead of Time
Thinking ahead of the snacks you want available for the week can set you up for success, encouraging your likeliness of balanced snacking and offering space to include nutrient-dense foods you may be aiming to incorporate into you and your kids’ diets. Have fresh veggies ready to go in grab-and-go containers or mason jars, or just have them washed and portioned in the refrigerator ready to eat! This basic prep might be the difference between you or your kids choosing a veggie focused snack vs. a bag of potato chips.
Let Your Kids Get Involved
Involve your child in the produce shopping and selecting process. Whether this is at the store or even “window shopping” online, encourage your child to choose one new fruit or vegetable they would like to try. Work as a team to prep it for snack and give it a try together! Allowing your child to feel some autonomy in the selection while partnership in the prepping process can increase openness to trying new foods or fruits/vegetables.
Need even more help appealing fruits and veggies to your kids? A good old-fashioned snack crafted into a shape or animal might just do the trick. Try the following:
-Create an apple sandwich with 2 slices of apple, ½ tbsp sunbutter, and a sprinkle of dairy-free chocolate chips
-Make a face on a slice of sprouted toast with sunbutter and blueberries
-Make a turkey “race car” by rolling turkey around avocado slice and adding 4 grape tomatoes as the wheels
-Create a “mandarin spider” with two mandarin oranges, breaking one in half for the body and the head and allowing the second mandarin to break up into segments to serve as the legs for the body.
-Ask your kids if there is something THEY would like to see featured at snack time- this an awesome opportunity for them to have a curious mind and explore different foods or food presentations!
Promoting your child to sous chef will also get them more enthused to munch on nutritious snacks. Whether it is cooking dinner, preparing snacks, or getting breakfast on the table, allow your little one to become a part of the process- at any age!
-Preschoolers can help wash ingredients, see how the dishes they eat are put together and help with basic assembly. Even the smallest hands-on experience is a great way to learn and feel like they are helping out.
-School-age kids can learn some cooking basics (chopping and measuring) and practice math skills as they help combine ingredients for recipes!
You also can use this time as an opportunity to talk to your kids about good nutrition and why you chose the ingredients you're using. These conversations help to lay the groundwork for healthy eating in the future!
Back to school doesn’t mean back to unsatisfactory snacking. Prepping, getting your kids involved and introducing experimentation will lead you to successful snacking all season long.