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Healthy snack ideas for on the go, after school and bedtime

3 min read

Healthy snack ideas for on the go, after school and bedtime
There's no need to cut out snacking to watch your weight—these healthy snack ideas will help you satisfy those hunger pangs with low fat and sugar options
By making sure your choice of foods is varied and well balanced, you can enjoy frequent snacks throughout the day that will optimise your energy levels and promote good health without encouraging weight problems.

Watching what you eat

Snacks and little nibbles can make a nutritious contribution to your diet, no matter when they are eaten. It’s important, though, to try to make the best choices and to avoid too frequent nibbling, as this can lead to weight problems.
Most children need something to eat when they come in from school. Adults, too, often want a snack in a busy day.
With a little forward planning to keep the fridge and pantry stocked with healthy snack foods, you can make sure that your snacks are nutritious.
When you need to replace energy quickly, a snack that scores high or moderate on the Glycaemic Index is the answer, but if you want a slow  release of energy, to sustain you over a longer period, low-GI foods are a better choice.

Healthy fridge fodder

hummus in pot
If you often find yourself heading for the fridge when you’re hungry, keep healthy snack foods such as these:
  • Hummus, salsas and yogurt-based dips—preferably homemade.
  • Vegetable crudités, such as strips of red and yellow bell peppers, sticks of carrot, celery and cucumber, broccoli florets and cherry tomatoes, packed in sealed plastic bags (they’ll keep for 1-2 days). Ripe avocados should also be stored in the fridge.
  • Cheese. Cream cheeses, preferably those lower in fat such as unflavoured fromage frais or ricotta, can be spread on bread or crispbreads.
  • Lean cooked meats such as chicken, turkey and ham can be used to make a delicious sandwich on their own or with avocado, cream cheese or lettuce.
  • Smoked fish such as salmon and trout, or fish pâtés based on tuna or smoked mackerel.
  • Fresh soup made with lots of vegetables—try puréed soups or chunky ones.
  • Low-fat natural yogurt, which can be mixed with fresh or dried fruit or muesli, or sweetened with a little swirl of fruit purée or honey.
  • Soft fruit such as berries, grapes, cherries, plums, apricots and peaches.

Simple pantry snacks

Instead of opening a bag of crisps, try one of these tasty ideas using nutritious foods in jars and packets:
  • Tapenade spread on bread, rice cakes or oatcakes.
  • Nuts and seeds, preferably unsalted.
  • Unsweetened or low-sugar muesli, with low-fat milk.
  • Bread sticks, rice cakes and oatcakes.
  • Dried fruit, such as dates, raisins, apricots or prunes.

After-school snacks

sliced flapjack pieces on wooden mat
When children come in from school claiming that they’re "starving", offer them one of these satisfying snacks:
  • Fresh fruit such as an apple, a banana or a few juicy pineapple wedges, or a small handful of energy-boosting dried fruit.
  • Bread. Spread toasted or fresh slices of wholemeal or mixed grain bread with peanut butter, cream cheese or jam. Or fill mini pita breads and bagels with a little canned fish or hard-boiled egg and salad.
  • Cheese in cubes or slices, with tomatoes or fresh fruit.
  • A teacake or slice of teabread, preferably home-baked. These are a nutritious sweet alternative to confectionery, offering more than sugar alone.
  • A biscuit or flapjack, preferably home-baked. Homemade baked goods are usually lower in fat and sugar than bought ones, and don’t contain additives.
  • A milkshake or smoothie made with fresh fruit, such as mango, strawberries or mixed berries.

Quick energy boosts after exercise

muffins as a healthy snack
If you exercise regularly, it is important to re-stock your stores of muscle glycogen as soon as possible after your exercise or training session finishes. High- and moderate-GI foods are the best choices. Here are some delicious ideas:
  • Bagel with low-fat cream cheese and jam
  • Toast or crumpet with jam
  • Baked jacket potato topped with a fresh salsa
  • Small handful of raisins
  • Muesli bar
  • Thick vegetable soup with bread roll
  • Muffin, preferably home-baked and low in fat

Bedtime snacks

Although it’s best not to eat a heavy meal late in the evening, some people do like to have a little snack before they go to bed.
In this case, it makes sense to choose one that is high in carbohydrates, such as bread, cereal, rice or bananas. These foods increase the brain’s uptake of the amino acid, tryptophan, which is needed to make serotonin, a natural sedative.
Milk also contains tryptophan, so there is some sense in the old idea of a hot milky drink to help you get to sleep.
So as long as the portion size is small, there is no harm in a bedtime snack.
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