Snack Smart

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Eating at your desk, if done correctly, can be a good way to keep up your energyWhen you are working at your desk and get hungry, you may have difficulty focusing on your job.

Nutritionists and other experts warn against going long periods without eating, because by the time you finally do sit down to a meal, you may be so hungry you’ll be tempted to overindulge.

Snacking between meals has generally been considered taboo, but there are some healthy, low-calorie snacks that can actually be beneficial for you. You can eat these at your desk between meals and they will not only keep you from going hungry, they can also provide you with vital nutrients.

Homemade trail mix
This is something you can mix up yourself using a combination of your favorite nuts and dried fruits. You can mix a palmful of walnuts or unsalted almonds with small portions of raisins, dried cranberries and semisweet (dark) chocolate chips. One ounce of walnuts with a teaspoon each of raisins and chocolate chips contains about 250 calories. Not only will this mixture help quell your hunger pangs, it will provide you with energy to get you through the day. Semisweet chocolate is rich in calcium and folate. Almonds and walnuts are rich in minerals (especially potassium and magnesium) and vitamin E. Raisins and dried cranberries contain healthy amounts of antioxidants that promote heart health.

Apple slices with low-fat cheese
As a snack, apples are one of the best things for you. Studies have shown that eating apples helps to reduce blood cholesterol, improve bowel function and reduce risk of stroke, prostate cancer, type 2 diabetes and asthma. Apples are packed with fiber, natural sugars and antioxidants. Try a sliced apple with a low-fat cheese wedge, like Laughing Cow Light. One medium-size apple with one Laughing Cow Light cheese wedge contains about 105 calories.

Graham crackers or Triscuits with peanut butter

Graham crackers and Triscuit biscuits are relatively low in calories while rich in protein and certain vital minerals like calcium and iron. Peanut butter is also rich in protein, as well as folic acid and healthy fats. Use a light peanut butter for this recipe, one that is lower in fat and carbohydrates than regular peanut butter. Two graham cracker squares or three or four Triscuits spread with light peanut butter, containing about 155 calories, should hold you over till your next meal.

Tomato soup with baby carrots

A healthy soup can make a good, nutritious snack, especially when a healthy vegetable is added to it, in this case baby carrots. Tomato soup is packed with nutrients like potassium and cancer-fighting lycopene. Carrots are rich in minerals and beta-carotene. Many standard soups may be high in sodium so, if you have above-normal blood pressure, look for a low-sodium brand. If you can’t find a low-sodium brand, pour about a quarter of the soup down the drain and dilute the rest with water. One standard-size microwavable cup of soup and one cup of baby carrots yields about 190 calories.

Canned mandarin oranges with light whipped topping

For something sweet, try mixing mandarin oranges canned in their own juice with a light whipped topping. The oranges are a source of vitamin C and other antioxidants and the light whipped topping, while not adding much in the way of nutrition, adds sweetness without many calories. Half a cup of canned mandarin oranges with two tablespoons of light whipped topping yields only 50 calories.

The important thing to remember about snacking between meals is to keep your portion sizes small and the nutrition content high. Following a conscientious meal plan and a regular program of physical exercise should help you attain your weight-loss goals. For healthy recipes and weekly health tips, sign up for free Mackie Mail on my homepage at www.mackieshilstone.com.