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Healthy On-the-Go Snacks

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It’s summer and life just went into racing gear. From road trips to baseball practice, from swim class to sleep overs, it’s hard to fit in healthy eating when you are out and about. Are you caught between the angel of healthy-living intentions and the devil of too-little time? Elizabeth Somer, registered dietitian and author of Eat Your Way to Happiness stopped by to explain how the right snacks can rev your energy, boost your exercise performance, improve your health, and even help you drop a few pounds during these busy summer months.

Eating well on the road and healthy snacks around town is all about focusing on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, omega-3-rich salmon or flaxseed, legumes such as soy, and other “real,” minimally-processed foods. Eating well is about grabbing the right mix of protein, fat, and healthy carbs. At every meal and snack, you need:

  • a little high-quality protein from milk, soy, beans, fish, nuts or nut butters, or meat (provides staying power throughout the day and helps keep blood sugar on an even keel);
  • a bit of healthy fat from nuts or olive oil (helps with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and phytochemicals), and
  • some high-quality carbs from whole grains, fruits, or colorful starchy vegetables (provides the fuel your brain and body need to function in tip-top shape).

Examples of healthful snacks:

1. Mix and match: Pick 3 out of the following: trail mix, 100% whole grain crackers, string cheese, blueberries, grapes, a KIND bar, air-popped popcorn, a hard-boiled egg, cut-up fruit salad with pistachios, ...

2. Drinkables: Blend your favorite fruit with kefir or yogurt and orange juice, pour into a thermos, and hit the road. You can combine these ingredients in a blender the night before, so all you have to do is flip the switch before heading out.

3. Dunkables: Cut apples into slices and bring along a container of peanut butter to dunk them in, along with a bottle of 100% juice, such as orange juice. (Avoid any juices that contain concentrated apple, white grape, or pear juice, which are just sugar water.)

4. Plan ahead: I make black bean & cheese quesadillas cut into triangles and keep them in the fridge. I can grab a few in a baggie along with a carton of milk and an orange as we race out the door. Small whole wheat bagels with ricotta cheese and sliced strawberries are also easy to assemble ahead of time.

5. Grab n’ go: No potato chips here. Instead, choose low-salt chips made from beans, a carton of hummus, a bag of baby carrots. A thermos of water is always good or puree watermelon instead. Studies show it is as good or better than commercial sports drinks for replacing electrolytes after exercise.

6. Oh no, you forgot the snacks! Never fear, even at a convenience store you can grab a 6-ounce low-fat yogurt, 1 small pouch trail mix or an all nut and fruit bar (skip the granola bars, most are the equivalent of a cookie), 1 banana, and bottled water.

It's not too late to join Elizabeth in support of the Children's Cancer Research Fund. Sign up at greatcyclechallenge.com.