Spring Snacking

It has certainly been a long, terribly cold, winter which resulted in many of us putting our healthy habits on hold until the weather broke. But at long last, spring has arrived!

Let’s get back to our healthier ways, starting with choosing the right snacks. Many people think that snacking is a bad idea. I disagree. I think snacking is absolutely part of a healthy diet and can be a wonderful opportunity to fuel your body with plenty of nutrients. That’s as long as you keep with the theme of eating for health by avoiding empty calories and keeping portion size small.

In order to keep hunger at bay, it is important your snacks include a balance of protein and carbs with a ratio of 1:2. If you’re physically active you can increase the carbs.

Here are some of my favorite nutritious snacks.

  • 1 low fat string cheese with fresh fruit OR 6 Triscuits
  • 1 TBSP peanut butter with 1/2 banana (100% natural peanut butter), 1 apple OR 6 Triscuits
  • 1/2 nut butter & honey sandwich on 100% whole grain bread
  • 1/4 cup almonds or pistachios
  • a handful of veggies with 1-2 TBSP hummus
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 hardboiled egg with 1/2 orange
  • 1/2 cup low fat cottage cheese with berries
  • 1/2 cup Edamame

What are some of your favorite healthy, balanced snacks?

–          Liz Erker, RD

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Good, Clean Cooking: Not Another Chore

I enjoy everything about cooking: the smell, taste, and texture of the ingredients.  Plus I know the foods I choose to cook with actually benefit my overall health! I love to dig into my fridge, freezer, pantry and spice cabinet and get into the groove of creating a colorful, nutritious mini-feast. That being said, I don’t like to play in the kitchen every night. Many nights, time is an issue.

Here are some tips to help you create fast, nutrient-dense meals to get you through the week, without spending every night slicing and dicing.

1. Be Organized

On the weekend, make a double batch of hearty soup or lasagna and freeze half. Whole wheat noodles, and veggies such as tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms and diced peppers, will give the dish a nutritional ‘bump’. Defrost in the fridge on a day when you know you’ll need it. When you get home, heat and serve with some additional veggies!

2. Stay Stocked

If you’ve ever had a hectic day and are unsure what to cook, you may end up sacrificing nutrition and taste, for speed. The trick is to keep your pantry well-stocked with healthy, convenient foods you can throw together in a hurry.

–          Cans of beans for making soups, salads, tacos or quesadillas

–          Tomatoes, pesto or olives for a sauce in which to simmer frozen fish

–          Dried lentils: add water, veggies and curry spices and you’ll have a nice soup in 30-45 minutes

–          Canned wild salmon, tuna or smoked trout to mix with panko-style seasoned bread crumbs and an egg to prepare easy fish cakes

*If you purchase high quality prepared foods, you won’t feel guilty about a meal of sandwiches and canned soup every now and then!

3. Embrace Salads

Not every meal has to consist of an entree and several side dishes. A substantial salad makes a great, quick meal. Just chop some veggies, toss in cherry tomatoes, peppers, carrots, nuts and dried fruit with your favorite protein and your dinner’s ready!
Some great combos include canned or wild salmon, smoked trout or tuna plus soft mozzarella cubes, hard-boiled egg, grilled chicken, fried tofu chunks plus peanuts, or flank steak plus blue cheese crumbles.

4. Grow a Garden

Maintain a small patio-type garden. Try planting a few herbs, lettuce or tomato plants in containers and you’ll have produce so fresh and tasty that no additional preparation is necessary.

Sliced homegrown tomatoes and fresh lettuce will compliment your grilled burger nicely. Fresh basil is a wonderful addition to any pasta dish!

–          Liz Erker, RD