Warm weather + fun in the sun = summer! Summer is such a wonderful time of year. We spend more time outdoors, the days are longer, school is out and we tend to feel more relaxed. We also indulge in more picnics, snack times and other potential pitfalls to nutritious eating.
There’s no denying that everyone, at one time or another, has had a snack attack. If you are like me, you probably enjoy snacks. Let me take it one step further and say I enjoy snacks daily. In my opinion, the key to a healthy lifestyle does include snacks. As a certified health and wellness coach it is my job to educate clients on exactly what constitutes a healthy snack. The 5 essential things to keep in mind for a healthy snack are:
1) Whole grains
4) Low amount of added sugar (fruit is a great choice)
5) Healthy fat
The combination of fiber, protein, healthy fats and whole grains (complex carbohydrates) will fill you up longer and as a bonus add essential nutrients.
Many convenient snack foods are highly processed and full of chemicals, additives, unhealthy fats and refined sugars. Selecting healthy snacks is extremely doable. Think apple with peanut or almond butter for a crunchy treat, trail mix for a sweet treat or even plain yogurt with agave for something creamy.
What about healthy snacks if you are gluten-free? This is actually easier to do than you think. Many of us, myself included, follow a gluten-free lifestyle whether by choice or for health reasons.
So what exactly is gluten? Gluten is a protein commonly found in wheat (einkorn, durum, faro, graham, kamut, semolina, spelt) rye, barley and triticale. Once you know what to avoid, finding healthy products and snacks can be really easy. Some of my favorite snacks are:
- Mary’s Gone Crackers with hummus
- Raw nuts or trail mix or my Crispy Nut Mix
- Food Should Taste Good Multigrain chips
- Good Health Half-Naked popcorn
- Cut-up vegetables (peppers, cucumbers, carrots) with hummus
- Celery with almond or peanut butter and raisins on top (ants on a log)
- Larabars or Kind bars (without yogurt coating)
- Piece of fruit (apples and bananas are very portable) or frozen grapes
- Trader Joe’s or Brother’s-all-natural freeze dried fruit snacks
- Snyder’s gluten-free pretzels
- Homemade Gluten Free Pita Chips
For those of you who are not gluten-free, I should mention that you will probably enjoy the suggested snack choices as well. Having these snacks readily available at the beach or pool will prevent you from seeking “unhealthy alternatives” to satisfy your families hunger. Snacking is enjoyable and there is a wide variety of healthful goodies for whatever you’re craving, be it sweet, crunchy, salty, creamy or spicy. Go ahead and be creative. Here’s to healthy snacking!