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Because it’s strange and beautiful and hot, people from everywhere converge on Florida and they bring their cuisine and their traditions with them. The Zest celebrates the intersection of food and communities in the Sunshine State.

How To Snack Smarter

Smoothie bowl with banana, strawberry, blueberry, granola and pomegranate
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Smoothie bowl with banana slices, strawberry, blueberries, granola and pomegranate seeds. Top view. Healthy lifestyle, healthy eating, dieting, weight loss concept

If your go-to snack comes in a crinkly bag, then it’s time for a glow-up. Today we’ve got dozens of ideas for snacks that are healthy, taste good and can even help you beat the Florida heat.

If your go-to snack comes in a crinkly bag, then it’s time for a glow-up. This week, we’re chatting with two family and consumer sciences agents from the University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Kimberly Bragg-Armatrout is with UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County, and Shari Bresin is with UF/IFAS Extension Pasco County.

They’ve got dozens of ideas for snacks that are healthy, taste good and can even help you beat the Florida heat.

Smart snacking tips:

  • Plan your snacks like you plan your meals.
  • Pre-portion snacks so you don’t overeat.
  • Seek out snacks that are nutrient-dense, not calorie-dense. That means choosing an apple rather than a slice of apple pie. (Sorry.)
  • Make sure your snack contains both protein and fiber, which will keep you full.
  • Steer clear of snacks with long ingredient lists. This is an indicator that they’re highly processed and offer little nutrition.
  • Don’t go for seconds or thirds right away. It can take 20 minutes for your brain and stomach to feel full.
  • Encourage kids to help with snack prep. To get them excited about healthy foods, serve snacks with dip and use food coloring to create colorful snacks.
  • Keep healthy snacks handy, so you won’t be tempted to reach for less healthy options.
  • Calorie needs vary by activity level, age, gender and other factors, so there’s no one-size-fits-all snack.
  • On days when the temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, food should not sit out for more than one hour. Use a cooler.
  • Don’t shop hungry.
  • Stick to your shopping list.
  • Shop the supermarket’s perimeter—but steer clear of triggers like freshly baked pastries in the bakery or fried chicken in the deli.
  • Read food labels, not just the marketing on the front of the package.

Smart snacking ideas:

  • Apple slices with peanut butter on pita bread
  • Plain yogurt mixed with fresh fruit
  • Half peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole wheat bread
  • Mixed nuts with dried fruit
  • Baby carrots with hummus
  • Sliced cucumbers with turkey and cheese
  • Hard-boiled egg with nuts, seeds and a slice of bread or pita chips
  • Hard-boiled egg slices topped with salsa or sliced cucumbers
  • Fruit and cheese kabobs
  • Ants on a log: celery with peanut butter and raisins
  • Chilled bean dip
  • Black bean salad with whole-wheat chips
  • ¼ sub sandwich
  • Half a wrap
  • Pasta salad
  • Tuna salad
  • Vegetables with dip
  • Tomatoes
  • Mangoes
  • Watermelon
  • Trail mix
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Popcorn
  • Peanut butter on crackers
  • Fruit smoothie
  • Protein shake

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