Tag Archives: healthy snacks

Smart Vending Machines

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I heard a news story about an interesting development in vending machines. New “smart” vending machines can use facial recognition technology to restrict an individual customer’s choices. According to the manufacturer, this can be used to prevent kids from buying cigarettes or keep dieters on track.

I think this is an interesting proposition. There are obvious flaws to the system. However, it could have a needed effect of increasing the amount of healthy items available in a vending machine. I mean, if it isn’t going to let you buy a Twinkie or Snickers, there has to be an alternative apple or carrot sticks it will let you buy. Right?

What do you think? Are you for or against technology like this? Should we help people by restricting their choices on a person by person basis? Or should we just change all options in a vending machine to be healthy? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Happy Holidays!

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Chips and Dip

Football season is here.  My husband is in heaven for the next few months.  Like all sports, I prefer watching football in person than on the television.  But some good snacks always make me more inclined to watch a game.

Chips and dip are a classic game day snack, but both can be overloaded with fat and salt.  Here are some homemade versions that won’t break your calorie bank.  You can feel good about the veggies in the salsa and guacamole.  And yes, avocados are high in fat.  But the monounsaturated fats in avocados can actually be beneficial to your health – when eaten in moderation and replacing saturated fats.  So eat that guacamole, especially if you are replacing a cheese sauce.

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Baked Tortilla Chips (Serves 5)

5 fajita-size whole-wheat flour tortillas or 10 small corn tortillas
Cooking spray
Pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Spray both sides of tortillas lightly with cooking spray. Stack tortillas and cut into sixths (flour tortillas) or fourths (corn tortillas). Arrange in a single layer on baking sheet. Lightly sprinkle with salt.

3. Bake for 5-7 minutes, watching to make sure they don’t burn. Once they look lightly “toasted”, flip over and bake for 2 minutes more. Serve with chips and salsa.

Nutritional Information (Amount per Serving):

Calories: 132
Protein: 4
Fat: 4.5 g
Saturated Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrates: 19 g
Fiber: 4 g
Sodium: 241 mg

Source: adapted from online

Easy Pico de Gallo (Serves 4-5)

6 roma tomatoes, diced
¼ medium red onion, diced small
½ jalapeño, membranes and seeds removed, diced small
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup cilantro
2 tablespoons lime juice

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Allow to sit in refrigerator for a couple hours for best flavor.

Nutritional Information (Amount per Serving):

Calories: 34
Protein: 1.5 g
Fat: 0 g
Saturated Fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrates: 8 g
Fiber: 2 g
Sodium: 126 mg

Source: adapted from family recipe

Guacamole (Serves 4-5)

3 large avocados, chopped
2 tablespoons lime juice
¼ cup pico de gallo or salsa
pinch of salt

1. Mash avocados with 1 tablespoon of lime juice. (A pastry blender works well here.) Stir in remaining tablespoon of lime juice, pico de gallo, and salt. Serve immediately or cover and store in the refrigerator.

Nutritional Information (Amount per Serving):

Calories: 195
Protein: 2.5 g
Fat: 18 g
Saturated Fat: 2.6 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrates: 11 g
Fiber: 8 g
Sodium: 44 mg

Source: adapted from family recipe

Recipe Notes: Using flour tortillas provides a little different taste than normal tortilla chips – a cross between tortilla chips and pita chips. Adjust the amount of onion and jalapeño in the pico de gallo to your preference. Raw red onion can become very powerful as it sits, so keep that in mind. You could use raw garlic, but I actually prefer powder here, as it can mix into more of the salsa than chunks of minced garlic.

Low iodine adjustment: Use non-iodized salt. You can make homemade tortillas or use salt-free tortillas.

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All about Snacks

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My life seems to be filled with the word snack lately. My little one recently added that word to her vocabulary and requests a snack anytime she isn’t getting her way. Every other blog post I read is about preparing after school snacks for kids. Recipes for snack type foods are popping up everywhere with the resurgence of football season.

But snacks aren’t just for kids or for munching your way through a lazy day on the couch. Snacks can be healthy contributions to your diet. Eating a snack when you are hungry between meals can prevent overeating at your next meal. Snacks can provide a boost of energy in a slow part of your day. Snack time can be a great time to get more servings of fruits and vegetables. You just need to keep a few things in mind.

-A snack should be about 200 calories or less. As you will see in the examples below, that isn’t a lot.

-You shouldn’t be adding calories to your total daily intake with snacks. If you eat a snack between lunch and dinner, you need to eat less than you normally would at dinner.

-Snacks ideally include fiber and protein. Both of these nutrients can help you feel full longer, increasing the benefit of snacking between meals.

-There is no hard and fast rule of when or when not to eat a snack, but I would suggest not eating a snack within one to two hours of a larger meal. Eating that close to a meal will either lead you to eat without listening to your body as your satiety cues will be suppressed or lead you to skip a meal and graze on less healthy items later.

Here are a few snack ideas to get you going:

– 1 peanut butter banana oatmeal bar
– 1 container of nonfat Greek yogurt with ½ cup of berries
– 1 medium apple and 1 string cheese
– ⅓ cup hummus with 1 cup of carrots or celery
– Trail mix made with a mixture of dried fruit and nuts. Most single serving packs available are under 200 calories, but you could also make your own using about 2 tablespoons each of almonds and raisins.
– ½ sandwich on whole wheat bread with 1 ounce of turkey, ½ ounce of cheese, lettuce, and tomato
– 1 medium banana with a tablespoon of peanut butter

Hope that helps and happy snacking!

Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!

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