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Just a few decades ago, a snack was a plate of freshly baked cookies and a glass of milk for hungry kids just home from school.
Times have changed.
Today, a whopping 90 percent of adults say they eat snacksevery day — and, studies show, a huge number of us are choosing snacks over regular meals three to four times each week.
This is especially true of millennials, who, like many busy grown-ups, love the ease of grab-and-go snack foods and are driving the snack-at-mealtime trend.
Snacking at mealtime is fine if you're grabbing healthy options. But noshing on chips and soda doesn’t pack much nutritional value. Nor will it keep you feeling full and satisfied — and that can lead to more snacking.
Here are six ways to be sure your snacks are nutritious and satisfying:
1. Choose a healthier chip.
If you love chips, go for the whole grain, baked types and dip them into hummus. Or make your own dip by adding a little onion soup mix into plain Greek yogurt.
The hummus and yogurt add protein that will help you feel more satisfied.
2. Grab some raw veggies.
Better yet, ditch the chips and dunk chopped carrots, cucumber, jicama and sugar snap peas into your dip or yogurt. It packs more crunch and a wealth of nutrients and fiber.
3. Be smart about your energy bar.
Some energy bars zap your energy rather than re-fuel you. Choose the right one by reading its ingredients and making sure it contains a combo of protein (at least 4-5 grams), healthy fats (derived from nuts and not trans fats), and carbohydrates — derived from whole grain and fruits instead of from a variety of sugars.
Enjoy your bar with a cup of skim milk or an iced coffee filled with skim milk to make your grab-and-go meal feel more rewarding.
4. Jazz up your yogurt.
Yogurt is a great option and if you go Greek, it’s even healthier. Greek yogurt contains twice the filling protein of regular yogurts.
Add some fresh fruit or chopped nuts to boost the nutrients — and give your mouth a chewy, more satisfying texture.
5. Make a super smoothie.
Commercial smoothies made with sugars and syrups may give you a vitamin jolt, but they’ll also send blood sugar levels on a roller-coaster ride. Skip the store-bought stuff and blend your own using banana or mango. Add veggies, Greek yogurt or skim milk and some ice. You’ll save calories and smooth out your mood.
6. Keep nut butters on hand.
Stock your desk drawers with packets of almond, walnut or other nut butters. Pair the nut butter with a crunchy apple and some whole grain crackers. The fiber, healthy fat and protein will stave off hunger and keep you satisfied.