Healthy Snacks to Keep You Going

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I have a T-shirt that says “I’m sorry for what I said when I was hungry.” We’ve all had times when the next meal seemed impossibly far away and we had to grab a snack before things turned ugly. It’s easy to carry prepackaged snacks, but how can we make sure our on-the-go food is also healthy so we’re not filling ourselves with empty calories devoid of nutrients we need? Here are several ideas for healthy snacks that families can easily take along as they hike, watch sporting events or just head to the park.

Trail mix is a classic that is easy to make and take along. My mom always had a jar of “gorp” (good old raisins and peanuts) at the ready on family trips. To this day, I never leave home without some, and many friends (plus some hungry strangers) have benefited from it. I recommend making your own to save money. My last batch cost $0.16 per ounce. Ready-made trail mix costs almost twice as much at $0.30 per ounce. Just toss any kind of nuts and dried fruits in a big bowl and store in an airtight container. You can also add small candies, but not too many; studies show that your energy levels and mood will crash within an hour of eating too much sugar. Including plenty of nuts in the mix provides protein, which curbs hunger longer.

Another great protein-filled snack is hummus, made of garbanzo beans, which are a whopping 20 percent protein in their raw form, and tahini, a sesame seed paste that is 17 percent protein. Hummus can be pricey to buy, but there’s good news: it’s surprisingly easy to make! Here’s a simple recipe I make regularly that’s gluten free, vegan, dairy free and contains no refined sugars. It requires one 15.5-ounce can chickpeas; one-third cup tahini, found usually in the same grocery store aisle as peanut butter; you can also substitute sugar free peanut butter and skip the garlic powder for a sweeter version; two tablespoons olive oil, two tablespoons lemon juice and a dash of garlic powder to taste.

Drain the can of chickpeas halfway, then dump the remaining water along with all the chickpeas into a blender. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until well mixed and there are no chickpea chunks. Adjust garlic powder to taste. If it is too thick, add water a tablespoon at a time and pulse until desired consistency is reached. Try experimenting with flavors by adding basil, tomatoes, peppers or chili powder. Hummus will last a week in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Serve it with your favorite crackers, pita bread or raw vegetable sticks.

Another family favorite is homemade granola. It’s budget friendly; mine is $0.32 an ounce even with fancy add-ins, while the comparable store version is $0.43 per ounce. Granola also keeps the family energized without having to carry along much extra weight. Dry granola is surprisingly filling, containing a healthy dose of dietary fiber in the oats that will help you feel full faster while lowering your cholesterol. It also packs a protein punch because of its peanut butter content. Here’s my homemade granola recipe, which is also gluten free, vegan, dairy free and contains no refined sugars, adapted from a recipe I found online. It’s a forgiving recipe that can be easily adjusted to make a free-flowing cereal granola or huge clumps for munching as a finger food.
Enjoy these homemade and healthy snacks with your family any time you are out and about. They’re guaranteed to keep you going! ■

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