Smart Snacking

What do you choose for a snack when between-meal hunger hits? Snacks offer a great way to boost nutrition and energy levels, but they can also add extra calories and pounds. If chosen correctly, snacks help to keep an appetite in-check and supply important nutrients.

For energizing snacks, choose nutrient-rich foods like milk, cheese, yogurt, whole grains, fruits or vegetables. Snacking on nutrient-rich foods means getting the maximum amount of vitamins and minerals without excess empty calories. As a regular rule, eat snacks that include foods from at least two food groups. For example, pair sliced apples or pears with cheese or whole grain crackers with peanut butter.

In addition to choosing nutrient-packed foods, it is important to watch serving size. Smaller portions can help take the edge off of hunger without interfering with mealtime. Choose snacks with 100 to 250 calories and use a small bowl or plate to help control portion size.

Stock your pantry and refrigerator with nutritious foods for the entire family. Putting snacks "front and center" by keeping them in clear bowls so they are easy to see is one way to make healthy snacking a reality. You can also make nutrient-rich foods convenient for snacking at home or on-the-go by trying these ideas:

*Enjoy flavored milk in single-serve containers.

*Serve string cheese as great pick-me-up!

*Wrap and roll your favorite cheese and sliced turkey in a tortilla spread with lowfat ranch dressing.

*Mix plain yogurt with salsa and taco seasoning and serve as dip. Enjoy with baby carrots, celery sticks, pea pods, cherry tomatoes and sliced cucumbers.

*Top cottage cheese with fresh pineapple or peaches and serve with whole wheat crackers.

*Dunk graham crackers in flavored yogurt.

For a tasty quick-fix snack, prepare Cheddar Apple Granola Bars, a good source of calcium, protein, vitamin A and iron!

Cheddar Apple Granola Bars

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

¾ cup applesauce

2 eggs

¼ cup apple juice concentrated

¼ cup canola oil

2 ½ cups lowfat granola

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Cheddar Cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In large bowl, combine applesauce, apple juice concentrate, oil and eggs. Blend with a whisk. Stir in flour mixture, 2 cups granola and 1 ½ cups cheese. Spread mixture in a lightly-greased 13 x 9 inch pan. Top bars with remaining cheese and granola. Bake 20 to 24 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Let stand at least 10 minutes. Cut into bars.

For more information, visit St. Louis Dairy Council's website at or contact Kelly Maher, R.D., L.D. at (314) 835-9668, or email at