No matter how conscientious you are about feeding everyone in your family healthful meals, there are going to be times between those meals when hunger gnaws mercilessly. Before you know it, kids and parents alike are raiding the cupboards for something to take the edge off. There's nothing wrong with that -- provided you do it correctly. That means stocking up on tasty and healthful items. The next time your family's snack cravings beckon, satisfy with nutritional nuggets that are just an arm's length away.
Dried Fruits: Raisins, apricots, figs, and dates don't have the water content of fresh fruit, so they aren't quite as filling, says Maria Walls, senior nutritionist for Weight Watchers International. Still, they last for ages and contain much of the nutrition of their undried brethren. A small box of raisins has 130 calories and no fat.
Tuna Salad in a Pouch: The StarKist Lunch To-Go, for example, has 3 ounces of tuna, mayo, relish, and six crackers, plus a spoon to mix it all up. It doesn't need to be refrigerated and weighs in at a relatively small 210 calories.
Nuts: "They're great snack items because they're so filling," says Katherine Tallmadge, spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. Walnuts are desirable because they're high in omega-3 fatty acids that protect against heart disease. Limit yourself to 1 ounce -- about 160 calories.
Fruit Cookies: Two cookies have about 110 calories and 2.5 grams of fat. The low-fat varieties have 90 calories and almost no fat.
Animal Cookies: Sixteen of the critters contain only 120 calories. And even vegetarians can enjoy biting the head off a lion or the hump off a camel.
Single-Serving Soups: Look for an 8-ounce serving that has no more than 480 milligrams of sodium, says Connie Diekman, director of nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis. You can find a nutritious cup of soup with 100 to 200 calories.
Continued on page 2: Snacks for Your Fridge