The issue of snacking can bring on the same level of debate as sleep training. Fierce critics, along with solid arguments, reside at both ends of the spectrum. Should I take the French approach and limit snacks to one a day at a closely prescribed time? Or plan for a few small meals to fend off inevitable meltdowns? For my kids and me, I've found it's best to snack -- with a caveat.
When we snack, we choose high protein snacks.
The list of healthy, high protein snacks is long, but we have a few favorites that regularly appear at our family table (and in our lunchboxes). They share four basic characteristics: Snacks have to be healthy, easy to make, portable, and packed with protein.
Beans are my best friends when it comes to high protein snack satisfaction. Edamame comes in its own perfectly portable package. It doesn't get much easier than that. Chickpeas are another high protein bean on our list of snack favorites. Blended into a healthy homemade hummus, they are a delicious complement to fresh cut veggies and fruits.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts can get a bad rap because they are high in calories, but they are a good source of protein. Even better, they're packed with omega-3 fats--the kind of fat that healthy bodies need. Although it's better to source your omega-3 fats from fish, nuts provide another helpful source according to Walter Willett, Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology at Harvard's School of Public Health. Walnuts top our list, and we usually enjoy them with something equally crunchy like an apple. Simple and easy. For kids with nut allergies, seeds can offer similar benefits. Our school is nut free, so our healthy protein snack of choice is an easy no bake cookie made with sunflower seeds, honey and oats.
One simple switch we made was to replace regular yogurt with Greek yogurt. This shift boosted our protein intake without much effort at all. Greek yogurt offers nearly double the protein per serving as it's regular yogurt counterpart. For example, a one-cup serving of Straus non-fat Greek yogurt offers 20g of protein. A same size serving of Straus non-fat plain yogurt offers 14g of protein. Serve it up with homemade granola and a drizzle of maple syrup, or blended into a fruity pineapple smoothie, reminiscent of a Piña Colada.
What are your favorite high protein snacks? I'd love to hear your suggestions.
A mother of two, Jennifer Tyler Lee is the creator of the award-winning healthy eating game, Crunch a Color®, and author of the upcoming book tentatively titled, The 52 New Foods Challenge (Penguin/Avery 2014), a week-by-week playbook to get your family eating healthy, one new food at a time.
Follow Jennifer Tyler Lee on Twitter: www.twitter.com/crunchacolor