November 21st, 2019

From Our Table: Super snacks

By Joanne Smith on June 4, 2019.

Energy Balls are a portable snack packed with protein.

Snacks are an important part of a healthy diet. If chosen wisely they are a vital way to get the 50-plus nutrients we need every day. They are an excellent way to stay nourished between meals and help avoid overeating at meals because of increased hunger.

Snacks are especially important for children. They have smaller stomachs then adults therefore need to eat more frequently. Their nutrient need is also great because they are growing so quickly. It’s much better to give children water to drink with a healthy snack rather than juice which will give them some nutrients but raises their blood sugars too high too fast and makes them feel too full to eat more healthy foods.

When my boys were growing up I tried to carry healthy snacks with us almost all the time. If I didn’t then when we were out and they inevitably got hungry, which pretty much seemed all the time, we ended up buying less healthy choices. This was a lot more expensive as well as less nutritious. A little planning and organizing will go a long way to make children and adults alike much healthier as well as save money.

Here are a few healthy snack ideas to get you on your way.

Banana bread – nutritious, delicious, and always a hit with old and young alike

Homemade muffins – You can control the amount of sugar added and you can add extra fibre, seeds, nuts and fruit.

Cheese and crackers or cheese and fruit

Cut up fruit – Top suggestions include oranges, fresh pineapple, watermelon or whole strawberries.

Cut up vegetables – These are aways a great way to get in the many vitamins and minerals we need every day. The wider the variety the better. Try a mixture of celery, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and grape tomatoes.

Add some tzaziki or hummus as a dip for your veggies. Tasty and nutritious.

Air popped popcorn and sprinkle a little flavouring on it to spice things up.

Fruit bars – 100% dried fruit bars are easy to take anywhere. Better yet make your own dried fruit so you know exactly what’s in it.

Energy Balls – balls or bars are another great snack idea. Packed with protein and portable they can go anywhere anytime.

The following recipes for Energy Balls are quick and easy to whip up. They can be made up ahead of time and then frozen to be used as needed. They’re sure to be a snack sensation.

This recipe was given to me by my friend Renae. Quite a few of our friends make it as we’ve all found it to be a family favourite. One word of advice that I discovered by trial and error. When you buy the ingredients they’re often more then you can use up at one time. Keep the nuts and seeds in the freezer or they will go rancid quite quickly. This recipe is so delicious you will be making more before you know it anyway.

Joanne Smith is a registered dietitian.

Protein Balls

1/2 cup hemp hearts

1/2 cup chia seeds

1/2 cup flax seeds

1 cup chopped almonds

1 cup chopped pecans

2 cups coconut

1 cup chocolate chips

2 cups oats

1 cup dried cranberries

1 cup dried cherries or can use dried fruit of choice

1 Tbsp vanilla

2 1/2 cups melted peanut butter

1 cup honey

Mix all ingredients together. If mixture is too runny add more oats. If it is too dry add more peanut butter or honey. Refrigerate for 30 minutes then roll into balls and freeze. You can also spread into a cookie sheet and freeze for awhile then cut while cold.

Nut-Free Balls

1 cup oats

2/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1 Tbsp chia seeds

1/2 cup ground flax

1/2 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup sunflower butter

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

1/3 cup maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla

Mix together then chill in fridge for 30 minutes. Roll into one inch balls and store in a sealed container.

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