Snacking on sweet-tasting fruits like fresh pineapple, Honey Crisp apples, dried plums, and frozen strawberries and savory vegetables like crisp celery, crunchy carrots, and delicate mushrooms is a simple, easy way to work toward daily Food Group goals.
Having trouble meeting the daily recommended 5 servings of fruits and vegetables? Pack them!
Additionally, prepping your own snacks at home more often will give you a better appreciation for the seasonality of these beautiful bites and where they come from. All the perfect recipe for ensuring farms everywhere, local and across the globe, have the economic support to remain sustainable for years to come.
Just like any behavior change, prepping food at home takes practice. Start small by focusing on your snacks first.
Not sure where to begin? Use a 1-2-3 approach to keep your energy going until your next meal.
Step One: Feed Your Brain
This may seem like a “no-brainer,” but with all the fad diets demonizing carbohydrates out there, you may think foods that provide carbohydrates like fruit and starchy vegetables are no-nos. Not at all.
Your brain needs sugar. Give it what it needs in the form of the awesome packaging of fruits and vegetables: carbohydrates in a matrix of colorful antioxidant-acting compounds, vitamins, minerals, water, and fiber. A much better spend of money and calories than any candy bar!
Step Two: Keep the Fuel Going
Protein does a lot to sustain the body with essential building blocks for muscle, hormones, and enzymes, but it also helps slow down digestion. This means a slow burn of the carbohydrates your brain wants without a quick rise and fall of energy.
This doesn’t mean you should only eat protein. The body is a very smart engine that knows it can only take in so much protein from foods like beans, nuts, seeds, milk, yogurt and cheese at a time and needs other nutrients for balance. Utilizing protein as the complement to your fruit and vegetable carbohydrates is a smart way to snack.
Step Three: Sprinkle with Fat
Fat enhances the flavor of food—and who doesn’t want a satisfying snack?
Fat also helps you absorb certain vitamins such as vitamins A, D, E and K, is essential for hormones, temperature control, and insulation. Plus, fat slows down the digestion of carbohydrates, too.
Invite fat to your snacks with foods, such as nuts, seeds, and their butter, but do so in a mindful way so your snacks don’t deliver enough calories to count as a meal.
Snack Ideas Using the 1-2-3 Approach
Preparing snacks ahead of time can be a fun way to work toward eating the colors of the rainbow while enjoying all forms from all over the world — fresh from Mexico, frozen from Chile, dried from California and 100% juice from Florida.
- Frozen strawberries mixed with plain Greek yogurt, cinnamon, and chunks of walnuts.
- Baby carrots dunked in natural peanut butter.
- Canned pineapple with cottage cheese and a sprinkle of sliced almonds.
- Slices of green peppers dipped in hummus made with tahini.
- Raisins mixed with whole-grain cereal and roasted pecans.
- Smoothie made with fresh blackberries, 100% apple juice, ground flaxseed, low-fat milk, and ice cubes.
- Mushrooms dipped in traditional Tzatziki dip and a sprinkle of sunflower seeds.