For between meal snacks that take hardly any time at all, try one of these healthy options.
When snacking, be sure to stick to the same healthful eating guides you follow at mealtimes, reaching for treats that emphasize naturally sweet fruits and crisp-fresh vegetables.
These super-fruity treats are high in vitamin C. For 12 pops, blend together 1 cup guava nectar, 1 cup pineapple juice, and 1 cup fresh pineapple chunks. Drop raspberries or cut-up kiwi fruit into molds or small paper cups. Pour blended fruit juice over fruit. Add sticks, cover, and freeze. (For paper cups, cover with foil; make a slit for a stick.)
A great mini meal for busy parents, these snacks combine protein, carbs, and whole grains to boost energy levels. Stir together a couple tablespoons of snipped fresh basil and 1 cup of light ricotta cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spread the herbed cheese on whole grain crackers. Top with cherry or grape tomatoes.
Kids will have some fun with this sweet snack that gives them a bit of calcium plus fruit. Just snip open a little bag of bear-shape grahams or animal crackers, spoon in some low-fat yogurt, and top with fresh fruit.
The vending machine won't be as alluring to teens who tote these dippers to after-school activities. Spruce up purchased light dill vegetable dip with a bit of finely shredded lemon peel. Spoon it into a plastic cup and add crunchy vegetable sticks. If you cut the veggies to fit below the top of the cup (or use a tall cup) and cover tightly, the snack is ready to tote. Be sure to keep it chilled.
Originally published in Better Homes & Gardens magazine, June 2004.