Five tips for healthy and convenient meals and snacks
Whether you’re on the go or staying close to home, getting a quick bite to eat is something we all need to fit into our busy schedules. Convenient options may be the easy choice, but don’t forget about staying healthy. Lisa Akly, RDN, shared five tips for choosing delicious, nutritious and safe meals and snacks.
- Remember those food groups. Select a healthy option from each of the food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy. For a snack, select a healthy option from one or two food groups. A compact snack example would be a baggie with ¼ cup nuts or sunflower seeds, combined with 2 tablespoons of raisins.
- Quick grabs. There are so many meal replacement and snack bars in the grocery store today. It’s important to ask yourself, “Is this a meal or is this a snack for me?” Select bars with less than 200 calories per serving as a snack; 400 calories per serving is considered high in calories. At that point you are getting close to the amount of calories appropriate for a meal. Choose wisely!
- Get your veggies. Sandwiches make excellent vehicles for loading up on veggies. Instead of the traditional side of chips, try sliced carrots, cucumbers and colorful bell peppers with a healthy dipper such as a savory yogurt dip or hummus spread. Create your own healthy salad packed with veggies and a variety of lean protein such as chicken, turkey or beans.
- Craving sweets? If you get the urge for that sweet snack, steer clear of the snack cakes, cookies and candy bars. Instead, maybe try frozen grapes or strawberries with 1-2 tablespoons of whipped cream. You can pair fruit slices with 1-2 tablespoons of peanut butter or another healthy spread. Unsweetened applesauce, fruit cups packed in their own juices, and low-sugar yogurt cups make for additional healthy and convenient treats.
- Keep it safe. If a refrigerator is not available, the USDA suggests using two frozen gel packs or combining a frozen gel pack with a frozen juice box or frozen bottle of water to keep lunches cold. To keep those hot lunches safe, the USDA recommends an insulated container to keep food like soup, chili and stew hot.
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