My girls were always good eaters (I think they took after their mother in that respect), so I never had to worry much about them getting enough calories, I just had to worry about feeding them the right kind of calories.
I was on guard during breakfast, lunch and dinner, but sometimes snacking was a little difficult to control. I know it's hard to be the kid with an apple for a snack when everyone else has chocolate chip cookies. So, I did my best to balance sweet foods with nutritious ones.
One of my go-to snacks back then was a small box of raisins. Memories of my days of preparing school lunches came flooding back as I was reading about a study, which was funded by the California Raisin Marketing Board and presented this month at a nutrition conference in Canada. Researchers found that children who snacked on raisins felt full on fewer calories than children who snacked on chips, grapes or chocolate chip cookies. Additionally, the children who ate raisins ate 10 to 19 percent fewer calories throughout the day.
It's not the most glamorous snack out there, but raisins do deliver sweetness along with fiber and a little protein. Compared with most other snack foods, raisins are very low in sodium, which is definitely a good thing, and they're a good source of essential minerals, such as potassium, manganese and copper.
With all that goodness comes a caveat. I've heard raisins referred to as "nature's candy," probably because a large portion of their calories come from sugar. So, if you're going to snack on raisins, be sure to practice portion control (those mini boxes are good for that).
Raisins are good, but they aren't the only healthy snack in town. Here are a few of my other go-to favorites:
- ¼ cup of dry roasted edamame: This snack is packed with protein – about 14 grams, in fact! It also has about 7 grams of fiber, which will help keep you feeling full longer.
- Peanut butter celery boats: Celery makes a great vessel for peanut or almond butter, which are loaded with fiber and nutrients. Add just a few raisins on top and you have the classic "ants on a log" snack that the kids will love.
- Popcorn and parmesan cheese: Top your popcorn with just a bit of parmesan (no butter!) and you'll have a light and healthy snack, with just enough fiber to keep you feeling satisfied.
Healthy Bites appears on MyHealthNewsDaily on Wednesdays. Deborah Herlax Enos is a certified nutritionist and a health coach and weight loss expert in the Seattle area with more than 20 years of experience. Read more tips on her blog, Health in a Hurry!