Snacking may contribute to high-quality diet

By Margie Mansure (

Article Published: Jan. 8, 2013 | Modified: Jan. 8, 2013

The term, “snack,” often brings to mind packaged foods in vending machines.

But a recently published study analyzing the dietary habits of more than 11,000 adults associated snacking with a higher quality diet. Perhaps people who consume smaller, lower-fat meals get hungry sooner.

Certainly, there is an extreme range of nutritional quality in snack choices. Active, health-conscious people are more likely to spread food consumption throughout the day. Eating smaller meals with healthy snacks keeps blood sugar more level and helps prevent fatigue. Another bonus is less desire to overeat at meals, which makes digestion much easier. The most satisfying snacks contain a small amount of protein, with takes longer to digest, with energy providing carbohydrate.

2013 may be the right time to consider adjusting your food consumption pattern to three smaller meals plus two healthy snacks.

My Top 10 Energy-Promoting Snacks

1. Small quantities of unsalted or lightly salted nuts and seeds
2. Plain yogurt topped with a little honey and frozen berries
3. Smoothies, made by blending yogurt, honey, banana and berries
4. Whole wheat crackers topped with reduced fat cheese and slice avocado
5. Fresh fruit or raw vegetables of any kind
6. Cut apples or banana topped with freshly ground nut butter, such as peanut, almond, or sunflower
7. Graham crackers and low fat milk
8. Whole wheat bagels topped with reduced fat cream cheese
9. String cheese and fruit
10. Homemade trail mix made with nuts, whole grain cereal and dried fruit

This is my favorite snack bar recipe. It is lower in sugar and has more whole grain and fruit than most packaged bars.

Fruit Snack Bars

Cooking spray
1 cup quick cooking rolled oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
5 tablespoons apple juice
½ cup jam of choice
1 packaged dried fruit, diced (7 ounces)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8 or 9 inch square baking pan with cooking spray. Mix together oats, flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt until well combined. Use low speed, if using mixer. Whisk oil and 3 tablespoons juice together and pour over dry mixture. Blend together with mixer until moist and crumbly. Press all but ¾ cup of this mixture in the bottom of the baking pan.
Mix your jam of choice with 2 tablespoons of apple juice. Stir in the dried fruit. Then spread evenly over the pressed mixture. Top with reserved ¾ cup of mixture and press down in pan.
Bake 35 minutes until golden. Cool in pan on a wire rack and cut into bars.

Margie Mansure, M.S., R.D. is a registered dietitian/nutritionist and extension agent with N.C. Cooperative Extension. She offers personalized classes to improve the health of citizens in Watauga County through worksites, schools and community groups. For more information, email or call (828) 264-3061.

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