Snacks to Boost Teen Nutrition
Teens rely on snacks for about 25 percent of their daily calories. People often think of junk foods as snacks, but a snack can be anything eaten outside of a scheduled meal. For many teens, snacks are excellent opportunities to add a nutritional boost to their diets.
Consider these healthy snack ideas to improve your teen's nutrition:
1. Greek yogurt smoothie
Greek yogurt is high in protein and calcium, nutrients key to bone and muscle support. To make a smoothie, combine a 6- to 8-ounce carton of Greek yogurt with a banana in a blender (a frozen banana works well, but freezing is optional) or any other fresh fruit you desire. Add enough milk to thin out the smoothie and 1 teaspoon of vanilla flavoring. Blend until smooth and enjoy a nutritious treat!
2. Trail mix
This is an excellent choice for girls who can't seem to get enough calories, as trail mix can be high in iron and protein, thanks to the nuts and dried fruit. To make your own, use your teen's favorite dried fruit (raisins, pineapple, mango, cranberries, etc.) and add an equal number of peanuts or tree nuts. You can also add other crunchy options like popcorn or pumpkin seeds, or even a small number of chocolate chips if desired.
3. Peanut butter balls
These peanut butter balls provide a protein boost that includes:
- 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
- 1/2 cup oats
- 1/2 cup nonfat dry milk powder
- 1/4 cup honey
- Optional: Small sprinkle of semisweet chocolate chips, shredded coconut (unsweetened) or chia seeds
Combine all ingredients and roll into 1- to 2-inch balls. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
4. No-bake granola bars
These no-bake granola bars, are also high in muscle-building protein:
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 1 ¼ cups chunky natural peanut butter
- 1 cup ground flaxseed
- ¾ cup honey
- ¾ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup chocolate chips
- ¼ cup sliced almonds
Combine all the ingredients, then press the mixture into a 9 x 11 baking dish lined with parchment paper. Place it in the freezer for one hour, then cut the mixture into bars. Store them in the refrigerator.
Short on time? These healthy snacks can be prepared quickly and provide a lot of nutrition:
- Hummus: Chickpeas provide a great source of plant-based protein, and hummus not only has fiber, B vitamins and minerals like iron and phosphorus, it’s also super portable. It makes a great dip for your favorite vegetables, and it's available in single-sized servings for girls on the go.
- Frozen whole-grain waffles: You can toast a frozen waffle and add a layer of peanut butter for a filling, nutritious snack in a hurry. This provides a balance of protein and carbohydrates for energy.
Healthy snacking doesn't mean bland or boring snacking. It means eating to make sure every bite is as full of nutrients as it is full of flavor. A teen's diet doesn't have to be perfect, but your teen's food choices today will affect her health for a lifetime, and there's no better time to help your daughter develop a lifelong habit of healthy snacking than during her teenage years.