Snacks Can Be Healthy And Varied Says LSU AgCenter Nutritionist

Elizabeth S. Reames  |  7/15/2005 2:59:27 AM

Healthy way to snack. Apple rings with peanut butter make a nutritious and tasty after-school snack. Youngsters need to eat more than three times a day.

2005 Back-to-school News

Help your child be snack-wise by having healthy food items from the Food Guide Pyramid on hand. There are lots of choices, says LSU Agricultural Center nutritionist Dr. Beth Reames.

"Snacks can be an important part of a child’s daily food intake," Reames says, explaining, "Because children are growing and active, they may need to eat more than three times a day." She says snacks help furnish the necessary nutrients and offer a wonderful chance to give children new and different foods.

"Try to incorporate whole-grains, fruits, vegetables or beans into your kids’ snack-eating plan," Reames says. To be prepared for snack attacks, stock up on simple foods such as peanut butter, cheese spread or slices, whole grain crackers, small bagels and pita bread, non-sugar-coated ready-to-eat cereals and vegetables and fruits. Keep these on hand for quick assembly of after-school snacks. Reames says to try these snack ideas from the Food Guide Pyramid at home or on the go:

• Grain foods, which are the foundation for healthful eating. They supply carbohydrates, some B-vitamins, iron and fiber. Examples include cracker stacks - wheat crackers topped with low-fat cheese slices; ready-to-eat cereals; flavored mini rice cakes or popcorn cakes; breads, especially whole-wheat, multi-grain or rye; ginger snaps or fig bars; popcorn; trail mix with raisins or other dried fruit; graham crackers.

• Vegetables, which supply beta-carotene, folate, vitamin C, carbohydrates, fiber and water. Examples include vegetable sticks like carrots, celery, green pepper, cucumber or squash; celery stuffed with peanut butter; cherry tomatoes cut in small pieces; steamed broccoli, green beans or sugar peas with low-fat dip.

• Fruits, which provide beta-carotene, folate, vitamin C, carbohydrates, fiber and water. Examples include apple ring sandwiches- peanut butter on apple rings; orange or tangerine sections; chunks of banana or pineapple; canned fruits packed in juice; juice box (100 percent juice).

• Milk, which is a rich source of calcium for strong bones and teeth. Examples include milk shakes - made with fruit and milk; cheese slices with thin apple wedges; and string cheese or individually wrapped slices.

• Meat and beans, which supply protein. Examples include hard-cooked eggs (wedges or slices); peanut butter spread thin on crackers; and bean dip spread thinly on crackers.

Reames says to follow these snacking strategies to keep children healthy and well nourished:

• Encourage children to plan simple snacks such as crackers and cheese or dried fruit and bite-sized whole-wheat crackers packed in a bag.

• Keep cleaned, raw vegetables such as celery and carrot sticks or red pepper strips in the refrigerator, along with some low-fat ranch dressing for a tasty dip.

• Portion out snacks or offer a single-serve package to keep serving sizes in line with children’s needs.

• Allow children to select a new-to-them vegetable or fruit. Sample it together.

The nutritionist offers additional combination-snack ideas: bean burrito; cheese quesadilla with salsa and lettuce; yogurt and fruit smoothie with graham crackers; a bowl of whole-grain cereal topped with sliced fruit and milk; a small salad with sliced deli meat, tuna or beans; fruit, cheese and whole-grain crackers.

For additional information about healthful eating, contact the parish LSU AgCenter Extension agent. For information on related nutrition, family and consumer topics, click on the Family and Home link on the LSU AgCenter Web site at


On the Internet: LSU AgCenter:

Source: Beth Reames (225) 578-3929, or

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