By Mirna Sainz-Gomez
Time and money are valuable when you are at school. Especially when you are enrolled in a full-time post-graduate program and you live away from home, where parents usually provide support with laundry, food or household bills and tasks. You may think that healthy snacks are boring or require a lot of preparation time and money, but… you may be surprised! Just keep reading because there are some easy snacks that are low in sugar and fat, contain a high source of nutrients, and can save you from spending too much money.
Boost Your Health by Eating Snacks That Don’t require Cooking
Eating snacks during school breaks bring important benefits to your body. First, they help to maintain a good glycemic level in the blood, which keeps your energy up during the day and prevents serious illness such as diabetes. Secondly, this healthy habit reduces anxiety and controls appetite. Lastly, eating natural and sugar free snacks offers a good opportunity to incorporate essential vitamins, minerals, and proteins to your daily diet.
But don’t worry, these top 10 healthy snacks for school are easy to prepare, enjoy and are more affordable than you may think. You just need to open your mind and play with various combinations of your favorite ingredients, be conscious about sugar and fat added on products, and put aside one hour to setup all your snacks for a full week. Remember that setting a new habit requires some planning and organization, that’s why it is a good idea to make a budget and a list of ingredients before your weekend grocery shop. That simple!
1. Nuts and Seeds. An easily portable snack container can be filled with all type of nuts and seeds. Flower or flax seeds, peanuts, walnuts, almonds, cashews, pecans macadamia, and pistachios are some of the favorite options in North America and can be easily found in almost all grocery stores, where you can find mix and match options. Nuts and seeds offer very high nutritive values and a good variety of textures and flavours, but make sure you select unsalted options.
2. Dried Fruits and Veggies. Some examples of dried fruits are apples, raisins, cranberries, bananas, figs, mangoes, etc. There are also some dehydrated vegetables that can be included in this category such as tomatoes, green peas, carrots, potatoes, and sweet potatoes. Berries are very popular and abundant in Canada, and are incredibly high in protein and fiber. Once a month you can easily make dried veggies and fruits at home to avoid added sugar and conservatives. There are lots of tutorials in YouTube that can guide you in this process.
3. Fresh Veggies. This is another easy, natural and excellent option for snacks that can be cut, packed, and stored into the fridge in little bags or containers once or twice a week . A small portion of dressing, pepper or salt should enhance their flavour. Keep in mind that fresh veggies are not only low in calories but high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. You may include in your grocery list some tomatoes, carrots, beets, cauliflower, broccoli, and celery.
4. Fresh Fruits. This is the easiest idea for a healthy, delicious, and nutritious snack. Before going to school, just pick a fruit that grabs your attention when opening the fridge. Bananas, apples, plums, grapes, oranges, kiwi, pears, and pomegranates are some fruits that you can easily find in local supermarkets, specially in spring and summer. Street or organic markets offers exotic fruits from different countries such as passion fruit, papaya, star fruit, kumquats, persimmons, rambutan, dragon fruit, etc. Eating the pulp and peel adds extra fiber and vitamins to your diet.
5. Crackers and Toppings. There are a wide variety of crackers that can be combined with peanut butter, jelly or Hazelnut spread. If you prefer, you can also use unsweetened toppings such as feta, goat, mozzarella, or cream cheese, hummus, avocado, or peanut butter. Crackers can also be paired with slices of fruit, veggies, capers, or olives. Create your own combination.
6. Tortilla Chips and Toppings. Corn tortilla chips are a very versatile and nutritive snack since they can be used as a base for almost any salty topping or steamed veggie. Buy whole grain and baked chips to avoid added fat and obtain extra fiber. Use beans, cheese, avocado, sour cream, salsa, and rice to pair with chips.
7. Granola Bars. There are a big variety of cereal bars, but not all of them can be considered healthy. Check the label to avoid extra sugar and unnecessary calories. Instead, homemade bars are good, easy and low- budget snack options for school. They can be customized with your favorite nuts, seeds, and dried fruits. Wrap them in plastic and store them in a dried place.
8. Cheese and Fruit or Veggies. Grapes, cranberries, strawberries, pears, apples, celery, carrots, beets are some delicious options to be combined with almost any kind of cheese (goat, mozzarella, Monterrey Jack, cheddar, etc.). Use what you have in the fridge and make an easy and balanced snack combining one third of cheese and two thirds of fresh veggies or fruit. Try different mixes.
9. Yogurt with Seeds and Fruits. Yogurts are
generally is rich in calcium, potassium, magnesium and have a high number of microorganisms that help the digestive system to work better. Greek yogurt contains twice the protein of a regular yogurt. If you prefer flavored yogurt check the ingredient list to see if sugar or a substitute appears at the end. Mix it with fresh or frozen fruit and your favorite seeds.
10. Sandwich Squares. Two slides of bread and any kind of filling inside can be considered a sandwich,. As snacks, they are good for bigger eaters, just avoid sweetened jellies, artificial spreads, dressings, ham or bacon. Instead, you should combine natural ingredients such as vegetables, cheese, and fruits. Don’t limit your imagination and create exotic sandwiches with fillings that you have in hand; simply add your personal touch and enjoy a delicious snack. Bonn appetite!