Written by David Grotto, RDN, LDN
David Grotto is an official brand advocate for Bel Brands in 2013. While he receives compensation for participation as a brand advocate, opinions are his own.
Depending on the family, “back-to-school” time can range from feelings of excitement to stress, especially when transitioning from a laid-back summer routine. At our house, it’s a bit of both extremes with four out of five family members heading back to school: one transitioning to high school, another starting her junior year, my oldest returning as a sophomore in college and me midway through grad school via my laptop! Yikes!
Each of us has unique eating challenges with our busy new schedules especially when it comes to meal planning and snacking during the school year. As well-intended as we are, we can’t always grab meals together. So I always try to make sure my girls are packed with healthy options when they are away and keep the fridge and pantry stocked with smart choices.
My two high school girls have a heavy course load, after school sports and lots of homework to look forward to in the evening. My college sophomore is fending for herself this year as she’s taking the plunge and is sharing an apartment with classmates. And after talking and writing about the wonders of good food and studying the fine points of human nutrition all day long, I get hungry! For all of us, we need great selections that are portable and convenient because we tend to grab anything that doesn’t require an ounce of preparation to douse our hunger. If given the option, the nearest unspoken for bag of chips or cookies might be our first choice. So my wife and I make it a point to pack our lunch bags with not only healthy meal options, but also snacks that serve us well for optimal physical and mental performance.
The consumption of protein-rich foods has been associated with greater alertness and also is effective in helping to control hunger. This is welcome news for our carb-o-vore-leaning family who want to perform well in all that we do. So each day, we check off whether an adequate protein source has been consumed for each meal and snack. It’s those snack choices that often are the most challenging for both our family and my patients so I thought I’d provide a list of some great protein finds that we use regularly that are convenient, nutritious and delicious!
Turkey, chicken and fish jerky: We love this protein choice because it’s fun to eat, not messy and doesn’t require refrigeration. Jerky is low in calories and saturated fat yet big in a variety of flavors and protein.
Greek yogurt: As you may have already heard, the Greek (strained) variety is a bit thicker in consistency and also more concentrated in protein.
Chocolate milk: Health experts agree that chocolate milk is one of the best post-recovery foods for busy athletes. The carbs and protein are in ideal ratios to replenish glycogen stores (the form of carbohydrate storage in muscles and the liver) and repair damaged muscles from activity.
Soynuts and Chickpeas: Beans are an excellent plant-based protein source but getting kids to eat varieties beyond baked beans can be a challenge. You can now buy soynuts (toasted soybeans) that are plain and flavored which you can toss on a salad or eat as a stand-alone snack. You can also find seasoned and baked chickpeas that are low in fat and calories but are an excellent source of both fiber and protein.
Mini Babybel Cheeses: Mini Babybel Light supplies 6 grams of protein for a mere 50 calories. Paired with a few crackers, slices of fruit or even another Mini Babybel makes a perfect protein snack that is individually wrapped, satisfying and delicious. My daughters love to pop them in the microwave oven with a splash of salsa on top of a few baked tortilla chips for a fun mini nacho snack. In less than a minute, they are satisfying their cravings so they can concentrate on their homework. My daughter that goes to college loves them because she can throw them into a gym bag, purse or backpack with an ice pack when she is traveling between classes or is searching for an ideal snack when pulling an “all-nighter.” And lastly, as I’m talking or writing about eating optimally, it’s comforting to know that Mini Babybel is 100% natural, making it a great snack for families whether in school or vacation mode!Post A Comment