(Family Features) A busy family schedule means there's less time to gather around the dinner table each night, let alone ensure everyone in the family is getting the nutrients they need to live healthy. And what convenience foods offer in terms of portability, they often lack in vitamins and nutrients.
But with a little preparation, you can ensure that convenient, wholesome, on-the-go snacks are at the ready when it's time to head to play practice or ballet lessons. Here are a few snack ideas to keep your family happy and healthy:
- Smoothies - While smoothies may not be the first thing that pops in your mind in terms of portability and convenience, with the right to-go cup, straw and lid, smoothies can be a great way to get some key nutrients en route. Pre-packaged smoothies, however, often contain a great deal of sugar. Ensure your family reaps the benefits of a fruit smoothie by whipping up a batch using all-natural ingredients and freezing them for later. Be sure to store blended smoothies in freezer-safe or airtight containers in the freezer, and allow for one to two hours of defrost time before grabbing them and heading for the door.
- Whole Food Bars - Just because you're short on time, doesn't mean you can't work wholesome foods in convenient, pocket or purse-sized portions into your diet. But make sure to check the labels when you grab a quick snack. While many snack bars contain few nutrients and may be high in sugar, the Good 'N Natural(r) Sun Valley's Fruit, Nut & Seed Bar contains only 9 to 12g of sugar and comes in four delicious flavors - Cranberry Almond, Lemon, Chocolate and Peanut Butter. Made using wholesome ingredients such as rolled oats, organic soynuts and almond butter, these tasty bars are dairy and gluten-free, as well as vegan. Plus, with 5g of fiber and 10g of protein, these bars are great go-to options you can feel good about giving your family. Learn more about these wholesome snacks at www.goodnnaturalbar.com.
- Apple Chips - If you're a fan of apples, consider making apple chips. Simply cut apples into about 1/8-inch thick slices, add a pinch of cinnamon, and place them in the oven at 200°F for roughly two hours. You'll end up with tasty, wholesome apple chips you can store in sealed sandwich bags for up to three days. Toss them in a backpack, your purse, or leave them in the car for snacking on-the-go.
- Edamame - While soybeans might not be something you regularly prepare, they're actually simple to cook, can be modified using different seasonings and easily eaten on-the-go. The night before a busy day, simply add 1 teaspoon of salt to a large pot of water, bring to a boil and add the edamame. Cook between 4 to 5 minutes for frozen edamame, 5 to 6 minutes for fresh. Drain, then add your favorite seasoning and store in a zip-top bag or storage container in the refrigerator until you head out the door.
- Homemade Trail Mix - For a shelf-stable snack that's perfect for storing in the car, at the office, or in your purse, consider mixing up your favorite dry food snack items such as popcorn, almonds, peanuts, dried cranberries, raisins, banana chips and more.
Keep snacks readily available in your kitchen, such as in a basket on the counter or portioned out in a shelf within the refrigerator to ensure your family will choose wholesome foods over convenient, less-healthy snacks. With a little planning and preparation, you can save time on busy days, while ensuring everyone gets the nutrients they need.
(girl looking in refrigerator) - Photo courtesy of Getty Images
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