Are you a snacker? If so, you’re not alone. Snacking increased during the pandemic and research indicates nearly half of Americans eat three or more snacks a day. People turned to snacking during the pandemic for both indulgence and health. While occasional indulgent snacks such as sweets or chips can be eaten for enjoyment, healthy snacks can help boost energy levels between meals.
Research indicates for folks ages 65 and above, healthy snacks can help provide adequate fuel and needed nutrients. Snacks high in fiber, whole grains and protein not only increase nutrient intake but also satisfaction and satiety. Being mindful of including protein and fiber will turn your snack into a power snack!
Older adults may not always feel hunger due to medical conditions, medication side effects, or mouth and swallowing issues that make it harder to eat. Having regular meals and including snacks can help keep nutrient intake and energy levels higher. Scroll down for savory and sweet snack ideas, and a delicious chocolate chia pudding recipe. Use the following tips as general guidelines. Happy snacking!
Tips for Power Snacking
- General rule of thumb: include a snack if meals are longer than 3-4 hours apart
- Aim for at least two food groups per snack – start with protein and add a serving of fruit, veggie, or whole grain.
- Have at least 3-4 “go-to” healthy snacks on hand. Changing up snacks weekly helps prevent burnout and variety increases nutrient intake.
- Plan both savory and sweet snacks and choose what suits your taste.
- For people with diabetes or working on weight management, portion control snacks.
- For weight gain, eat larger portions as tolerated.
- Protein options – lean meats, poultry, seafood, eggs, cheese, nuts, seeds, legumes, Greek yogurt.
- Fiber options – Fruit, veggies, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
- Pair fruit or whole grain bread/crackers + nut or seed butter, cheese, hummus or bean dip
- Boiled egg + fruit or veggies
- Tuna, egg, chicken or chickpea salad + whole grain cracker or bread + salad greens, cucumber, or tomato slices
- Veggie soup + whole grain crackers
- Half a sandwich + fruit
- Pizza – top a halved whole wheat English muffin with tomato sauce, fresh spinach and cheese and broil until cheese melts
- Popcorn – pop your own kernels in the microwave in a brown paper bag folded on its side. Add toppings: nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor, flaxseed oil for a buttery flavor or cinnamon for a sweeter flavor. Add a handful of nuts for staying power.
- Greek yogurt or cottage cheese + fruit
- Trail mix – nuts and/or seeds + dried fruit
- Pudding + a side of nuts
- Angel food cake + Greek vanilla yogurt + fruit
- 1-2 ounces of dark chocolate + fruit or nuts
- Protein bar + fruit
- Smoothie – In a blender combine 1 cup fruit, a handful of spinach or kale, 1 Tbs. nut or seed butter. Add ice and milk of choice to desired thickness.
Chocolate Chia Pudding: A healthy snack for a sweet tooth
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- ¼ cup chia seeds
- 1-2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
- ⅔ cup nut milk, dairy milk, soy milk, or oat milk
- ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 pinch of salt
Instructions:Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Refrigerate in a glass container overnight, or at least 4 hours. When ready to serve, top with ¼-½ cup berries.