When it comes to calories and nutrition, every bite you take counts -- and that includes the ones you take between meals and on the run. The problem is that many grab-and-go options are pretty unhealthy and unsatisfying: A sugary or starchy snack can send your blood sugar soaring and leave you ravenous an hour later, craving another sugar bomb. On the flip side, healthy real-food snacks will fuel you and your family through your work or school day, energize you for a workout, and leave you sated enough that you're more likely to make nutritious choices at dinnertime. The recipes we've gathered here are easy to pop in a reusable plastic container or thermos and stick in your briefcase or kid's lunchbox, making it that much easier to pass by the vending machine or candy jar.
From the Thermos
Chocolate bars and potato chips are habit-forming, especially when you keep stocking up on them at home. Try making healthy snacks once a week and storing them in eye-catching places, like the top shelf of your refrigerator or to the left of your keyboard.
Think About Leftovers
Pasta with cheese, eggs, tofu -- food that usually makes an appearance at breakfast or dinner -- can be perfect for afternoon pick-me-ups, in bite-size portions and tidy containers.
What's in Store
Don't have a second to cook? Here are a few of our favorite packaged snacks to keep on hand: fresh fruit with nut butter; whole wheat crackers and string cheese or reduced-fat goat cheese with cherry tomatoes, carrots, or peppers; yogurt sprinkled with muesli, granola, ground flaxseed, or wheat germ and topped with frozen berries or cherries; nuts and seeds; edamame; hummus; beef jerky (it's low in fat and high in protein); and dried fruit (watch the sugar).
Balance the Equation
Just like with full meals, you should try to get some protein, good carbs, and fruits or veggies at snack time. And it never hurts to throw in a square of dark chocolate for good measure!
Pass It on
There are so many reasons for kids to ask for sports drinks and Oreos. But if you are munching on sliced apples with peanut butter instead of high-fat or high-sugar snacks, they will, too. Eventually they may even get used to the dried fruit and nuts you slip into their backpacks in the morning.
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