No Junk Food Allowed: Healthy Snacks for Teenagers
Healthy snacks can taste good and also be nutritious.
The facts: 12- to 17-year olds are as likely to eat potato chips as salad. French fries are the most consumed “vegetable” in the United States. And on any given day, 41 percent of Americans don’t eat any type of fruit.
These statistics from the Vreeland Clinic highlight the dietary plight of Americans in general and teenagers in particular. A 2007 UCLA study found revealed that teenagers who lived by or went to school in neighborhoods with an abundance of fast food restaurants, convenience stores, dollar stores and similar establishments were more likely to consume unhealthy food. However, having readily-available snacks that are both nutritious and tasty can aid in countermanding the barrage of fast food and junk food.
Milkshakes made with reduced fat milk, and smoothies with fruit and reduced fat milk and yogurt are an excellent source of fiber and are low in calories and fat. Another smoothie alternative idea is to combine half a cup of frozen yogurt with half a cup of orange juice and a peeled orange. You can also make banana splits using sliced bananas and low fat ice cream, and add peanuts or other nuts as sprinkled toppings. These dairy foods give the appearance of being treats and desserts, while camouflaging their nutritional content.
Make a fruit pizza using toasted English muffins. Cover the muffins with non-fat cream cheese and top with grapes, a quarter cup of sliced strawberries, or the equivalent amount of another fruit. You can also create fruit juice popsicles by pouring 100 percent fruit juice in molds and freezing. Fruits are loaded with vitamins and also satisfy sweet tooth cravings.
Grain and Nut Snacks
Combine whole-grain toasted oat cereal with nuts and dried cranberries to make trail mix. Nuts are high in protein and fiber, as well as iron and potassium, and their magnesium content helps the body produce energy. Or, you can substitute M&Ms and raisins for the nuts and cranberries, since raisins contain fiber and iron. Air-popped popcorn is another healthy, whole-grain snack alternative that also contains fiber and is filling.
For a more substantial snack, try tortillas with strips of low-fat cheese and turkey. Or, make a nachos treat with baked tortilla chips and lean ground beef. Top the nachos with black beans, low-fat cheese, diced tomatoes and low-fat sour cream. These snacks provide an abundance of nutrition, including protein, fiber and calcium, and should keep your teen full for several hours.