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Smarter Summer (or Anytime) Snacking

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Summer can be a busy time for the whole family, leading to quick meals and frequent snacks. On-the-go food is essential to making it through some days.

But it’s not just a summer thing. These days, “roughly half of the eating occasions in the US are now snacks.” For families, the rate of snacking can be even higher.

The number of kids in a household increases, on average, the number of snacks a parent has in a single day. While adults without kids have an average of 2 snacks a day, those with 3 kids have 2.5

If snacking is here to stay, shouldn’t we at least consider some ways to make it healthier while still keeping snacks tasty and even fun?

nuts and berriesKnowing that many of the snacks we eat may be replacing traditional meals, it’s important to bring in foods that are nutrient-dense and packed with healthy fats and real ingredients. One of the best ways you can do that? Ditch the packaged products – even those advertised as “healthy,” “clean,” or “natural” – and start making your own bulk snacks at home for easy use throughout the week.

You’ll know exactly what goes into them and how they were made. And there are tons of simple and delicious recipes out there. Here are some of our favorites:

  1. Homemade bars. Making these at home, you can be more mindful of the protein and nutrients packed into these bars. You can add things like flax and chia seeds for longer-lasting satiety, ingredients not often included in processed products. And you can make a huge baking sheet of bars for a fraction of the cost of store brands.
  2. Coconut chia pudding. This is a great full-fat option for breakfasts, mid-day snacking, or dessert. Increase the recipe to whip up a big bowl and divide into jars that you can store in the fridge and grab on your way out the door. Be as creative or as simple as you’d like, adding spices, nuts, seeds, fresh fruit, or even a bit of agave or local organic honey to taste.
  3. Smoothies are quick and easy, and you can punch them up with things like protein powder, full fat milks, a variety of fresh fruit, and many different spices. Just remember to be mindful of the sugar content! Try including more veg and leafy greens, as well. Spinach and arugula tend to go nearly unnoticed when blended with fresh fruit, yet add a ton of nutritional value.
  4. Hummus can be a great source of protein to eat with veggies as a dip or used as a spread on bread or wraps. A few ingredients and a food processor is all you need to make a big batch of this to keep in the fridge for a week. Trying to keep down your carbs? Sub lettuce wraps in place of traditional wheat or flour wraps. And consider making two batches of this at a time: one for now and one to stick in the freezer for the next week.

As you experiment with recipes, consider throwing in some ingredients known to support good oral health, as well:

  • Berries are a low-carb ingredient that can help reduce inflammation and promote healthier gums through their polyphenols and antioxidant properties.
  • Nuts are a great source of protein and healthy fats, great for on-the-go snacking while providing important minerals that support ongoing tooth remineralization.
  • Spices like turmeric also helps reduce inflammation while punching up the flavor of drinks, puddings, bars, and other snacks.

Image by Maria Eklind

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