Healthy snacks take a bit of planning

Sept. 25, 2011 at 11:50 PM
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SANTA MONICA, Calif., Sept. 25 (UPI) -- After-school snacks for children and teens are fuel for growth, but with some planning can also boost their nutrition, a U.S. food expert says.

Phil Lempert, a food industry analyst, trend watcher and creator of the Web site, said children will mimic what their parents eat and what they find handy at home.

Fresh fruit is an easy choice, with bananas, apples, oranges available all year long. Frozen berries and other fruit taste can be defrosted and mixed in with a scoop of ricotta cheese or plain yogurt.

Cut up stalks of celery, baby peeled carrots, red, yellow or green bell peppers, and lightly blanched cauliflower or broccoli florets all make delicious snacks -- no dips are necessary, Lempert says.

The blender can make freshly made vegetable juices. It also can be used to turn leftover or fresh vegetables, water and a bit of vegetable or chicken stock into a pureed soup.

Small quantities of raisins, currants, nuts or a home-made trail mix are delicious with a small glass of milk or juice.

Peanut, almond, sunflower and other nut butters -- excellent sources of protein, healthy fats, minerals and vitamins -- can be slathered on sliced apples, celery stalks or whole grain crackers, Lempert advises.

On cold wintry days, vegetable soup, homemade chicken soup, stir-fried veggies with brown rice or a bowl of hot cereal topped with apple sauce for sweetening all make hot snacks, Lempert says.

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