Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Ditch Those Old Summer Snacks for Some Healthier Alternatives

School’s out for summer. That means the kids are around the house, and friends and family visiting more often, which makes it harder to stay away from the sweet treats. It’s easy to keep cookies, cakes and chips around the house to share with the family. But it may not be the best option for your waist line or your health because it’s easy to add extra calories to your diet (and pack on extra pounds) when you’re munching away on potato chips.
So trade in those traditional treats for one of these healthier alternatives:

• For a simple treat try grilling fresh pineapple, mangoes, or peaches.
• Freeze grapes or blueberries for a refreshing icy treat that’s always on hand.
• Try snacking on fresh sliced veggies and low-fat cheese. They can easily be bought already chopped and in serving size containers – or for a cheaper alternative, cut them yourself.
• Switch to a whole-grain cracker like Triscuits. Whole grains contain more vitamins, minerals and fiber than refined grains.
• Serve with store-bought, low-fat dip or try making your own to control the salt. Use blended ricotta cheese, low-fat yogurt, cream cheese, mayo, or sour cream. Then add dill, pepper, garlic, minced onion and/or other herbs to your taste.
• For a fruit dip try low-fat cream cheese or blended ricotta with a no-calorie sweetener, like Splenda, and a little flavoring like caramel extract.
• Remember, Splenda can be substituted for sugar to cut back on unnecessary sugars and calories.

You can find ideas for healthy snacks at Web sites like eatingwell.com. Here’s an example for frozen chocolate covered bananas.

Cut a large banana into thirds and then insert a popsicle stick into the end of each banana piece. Dip into melted semisweet or bittersweet chocolate and then sprinkle with finely chopped nuts. Place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper and freeze for at least 2 hours.
They contain approximately 120 calories, 6 grams of fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams added sugars, 2 grams protein, 2 grams fiber.

-- Stephanie Ashmore
Foods and nutrition major at Ashland University, Ashland, Ohio
Student Intern at Martin Memorial Center for Health and Healing

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