Deirdre Riley is a registered dietitian and nutrition consultant who specializes in wellness and prevention. She promotes a healthy lifestyle with a focus on nutritious and delicious foods and believes healthy eating can also be fun. She received her Master's degree in nutrition from Boston University.

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Eat This!

by Deirdre Riley, Registered Dietitian

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Finding a healthy snack can sometimes be a daunting task. You didn't have time for breakfast and it's so tempting to just grab something sweet at the nearby coffee shop. Or you've already had lunch, dinner is still several hours away and the vending machine snacks or the candy jar at work seem to be calling your name.

The key to making a healthy choice for a snack is having convenient, quick and simple options available. Chances are, if making a healthy snack takes more than a few steps, it's just not going to happen.

Items such as pre-cut fruits or veggies, hard-boiled eggs, individual cartons of yogurt or milk, and single-serve portions of dried fruit and nuts can be huge time savers, so try to keep these on hand. Make up a trail mix using whole grain cereal, dried fruit, and nuts in small plastic bags for a speedy breakfast to pair with a carton of skim milk or a container of light yogurt. For a fast lunch, pack up whole grain crackers, tuna or lean cold cuts, yogurt, and fruit. Mix up your healthy favorites - the possibilities are endless!

Below is a list of healthy mix-and-match snack options. Making food choices that are rich in both protein and fiber promotes satiety, helps control blood sugar levels and limits cravings. Make sure to choose a food from the protein group, then add one selection from either high-fiber group below to combine for quick and healthy snacks. For example, hummus and cut up veggies is a crunchy, high fiber, healthy snack. Serving sizes for each food are in parenthesis.

*Nonfat or 1% skim milk or soy milk (8 ounces)
*Reduced fat string cheese (1)
*Nonfat, low fat or Greek yogurt (4-6 ounces)
*Low fat cottage cheese (4-6 ounces)
*Natural peanut, cashew or almond butter (2 tablespoons)
*Hard boiled egg (1)
*Unsalted nuts (1 ounce or ¼ cup)
*Hummus (2 tablespoons)
*Edamame or boiled soybeans (1/2 cup)
*Roasted soy nuts (1/4 cup)
*Vacuum sealed individual packets of tuna (3 ounces)
*Thinly sliced turkey or lean ham (1-2 slices)
*Reduced fat cheese slices (1)
*Laughing Cow cheese wedges (1)

Fruits / Vegetables
*Vegetable sticks (such as carrot, cucumber, celery, squash, sweet pepper, etc.- 1 cup)
*Grape tomatoes (1 cup)
*Fresh fruit (whole fruit or sliced into cubes- 1 cup)
*Small box of dried fruit (1/4 cup)

Whole Grains

Note: a serving of whole grains is usually 1 ounce. Read the label and limit portion to one serving.
*Whole grain crackers
*Whole wheat pita bread
*Whole wheat bread or English muffins
*Whole grain cereal
*Whole wheat wrap
*Air-popped or lowfat popcorn (3 cups)
*Popcorn cakes or rice cakes

I hope you've enjoyed these healthy snack ideas... Eat up!!

@ 8:52am ET on December 9, 2009
Dee, Thanks so much for the ideas...As always, looking for "new" foods for packing in lunches
Any thoughts on Metabolic Syndrome? Mary Ann

@ 8:52am ET on December 18, 2009
These are great ideas. My favorite website for healthy snacking and weight loss is

@ 7:18pm ET on December 20, 2009
That's a great website! Thanks for sharing! :)

@ 7:26pm ET on October 26, 2014
These are all helpful suggestions. I like the string cheese, laughing cow wedges, vegetables and hummus dip. I will try all of these instead of going to the vending machine when I start to get hungry

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