Healthy snacks take a bit of planning

SANTA MONICA, Calif., Sept. 25 (UPI) -- After-school snacks for young kids as well as teens are fuel for growth, but with some planning can also boost their nutrition, a U.S. food expert says.Phil Lempert, a food industry analyst, trend watcher as well as creator of the Web site, said young kids will mimic what their parents eat as well as what they find handy at home. Fresh fruit is an easy choice, with bananas, apples, oranges available all year long. Frozen berries as well as other fruit taste can be defrosted as well as churned in with a scoop of ricotta cheese or plain yogurt. Cut up stalks of celery, baby peeled carrots, red, yellow or green bell peppers, as well as lightly blanched cauliflower or broccoli florets all make tasty snacks -- no dips are necessary, Lempert says. The blender can make freshly made vegetable juices. It also can be used to turn leftover or uninformed vegetables, water as well as a bit of vegetable or chicken stock into a pureed soup.Small quantities of raisins, currants, nuts or a handcrafted trail mix are tasty with a small glass of milk or juice.Peanut, almond, sunflower as well as other nut butters -- excellent sources of protein, healthy fats, minerals as well as vitamins -- can be slathered on sliced apples, celery stalks or whole grain crackers, Lempert advises. On cold wintry days, vegetable soup, homemade chicken soup, stir-fried veggies with brown rice or a bowl of hot cereal topped with apple sauce for sweetening all make hot snacks, Lempert says.

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