Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Summer Time is Snack Time - What’s Your Game Plan?

School’s out and millions of Americans are busy making plans for road trips, vacations and relaxation. Busy parents are likely trying to figure out how to streamline their responsibilities and free up more time for fun. Before heading to the warehouse club or super market to stock up on “grab and go” snacks for the kids, rethink that shopping list!

Sure, it’s nice to have lots of tempting things on hand during the summer. Keeping a ready supply of favorites like ice cream, popsicles, cookies, and soda will surely make your house a popular neighborhood stop. Plus-it’s super convenient to have packaged snack foods in the car for those long road trips. For working parents, who frequently get the call, “There’s nothing to eat in this house!”-routinely stocking up the fridge, freezer, and pantry with kid-friendly options is a life-saver.

Just make sure that the foods you are offering will not sabotage your children’s dental health. It only takes a little extra planning to come up with tempting choices. With inspiration from the folks at “Eat This-Not That” here is a list of typical snack choices and a better option:

Popsicles vs. Homemade Ice Pops
Make your own with a combination of real fruit juice and pureed fresh fruit. In season fresh fruit allows you to make colorful, hard to resist versions, like watermelon lime, strawberry banana, mango peach, or blueberry lemon-YUM!  Because so much of the fresh fruit choices are quite sweet enough on their own, there is usually no need to add sugar. For a creamsicle twist, mix ½ to 1 cup of unsweetened coconut milk or 8 ounce carton of vanilla Greek yogurt into the puree.

Canned Soda vs. DIY
Isn’t reading the long list of unpronounceable ingredients on the average soda can enough of a wake up call? Walk away from these products that are loaded with sugar, chemicals, artificial flavors and colors. Instead of canned soda, make your own with seltzer water. Just combine a ½ cup fruit juice and ½ can of seltzer with a splash of lemon or lime for one of the healthiest and most refreshing beverages you’ll have all summer!

Chocolate Chip Cookies vs. Nut Butter Rice Cake with Chocolate Chips
Just as it sounds-spread a little peanut or almond butter on a rice cake and sprinkle on a few chocolate chips. This swap also brings fiber and protein to the table. Yes-chocolate chips contain sugar, however, not nearly as much as cookie dough.

Fruit Roll-Ups vs. Dried Fruit or Tortilla All-Fruit Pinwheels
Most fruit roll-ups have more corn syrup and artificial flavoring and colors than fruit. Invest in dried natural fruits instead, such as mango slices or apples. For a variation on the same theme, spread all-fruit, low sugar jam onto a 8-inch flour tortilla-roll and cut into pinwheels. These may also be chilled and put on skewers for easy eating.

High-Sugar Mainstays (yogurt and granola bars) vs. Smarter Alternatives
For those that think yogurt and granola bars are super healthy choices-read those labels. Some of the best-selling brands of yogurt have as much sugar as two scoops of ice cream.

The same is true for granola bars-many brands have as much sugar as a candy bar. For yogurt and granola bars, choose those that have 9 grams of sugar or less per serving.

A few more ideas:

  • Water is the beverage of choice-make it fun with a few new BPA-free water bottles to keep filled and chilled in the fridge
  • Fruit on a stick or ready made fruit cups
  • Steamed edamame (in the shell)-it’s portable and can be eaten hot or cold-great high protein snack that is very similar to boiled peanuts
  • Hummus with whole grain bread sticks or veggies
  • Veggie cups and dip-Ranch dressing, peanut butter, or salsa
  • Nuts-healthy and wholesome
  • Popcorn-air-popped or bagged low calorie choices, like, “Skinny Pop”

Remember that sugary foods are problematic because of the way they bond with bacteria in the mouth to produce acids that erode the enamel and lead to decay. Look for ways to avoid sugar filled foods and when baking or cooking, try adding less than what is called for. Help prevent cavities by ensuring that all family members brush every morning and evening and in between meals with a fluoride toothpaste. Floss daily! Also discuss how eating crisp fruits and vegetables will help keep everyone’s teeth clean and healthy.

Even though it’s finally summertime, remember to visit your dentist every six months for a checkup (Call 919-782-0548 to schedule!) and help with removing plaque and calculus that you may have missed before cavities can develop.

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