(BPT) - Summer snacking is among the most popular of American traditions – right up there with baseball and apple pie. When the sun is shining and the weather is wonderful, we love to feast on our favorite treats at ballgames, picnics and outdoor activities.
Yet the desire for indulgent taste can often get in the way of making good nutritional choices, especially while out and about. Here are some easy tips for planning flavorful, healthy and satisfying snacks that you and your family can pack for any activity this summer.
Navigate concession stands with ease
Chips. Popcorn. Soft pretzels with cheese sauce. Candy bars. Ice cream. Whether you’re enjoying a day at the beach or the ballpark, the spread offered at concession stands rarely varies. Be smart when you’re navigating the snack line-up with simple tricks such as determining whether you are hungry or just thirsty; opting for the most nutrition-packed foods that are low in fat and high in protein, so that your snack satisfies you longer; skipping the bun; and paying attention to the recommended serving size for your snack-of-choice.
Keep protein-packed snacks on hand
Snacks high in protein will keep you and your family feeling energized throughout the day’s activities. Ever since Native Americans and early settlers sought portable, satiating foods, jerky has been a popular take-along choice. Today’s jerky is conveniently packaged and requires no refrigeration. And, while jerky may be as American as apple pie, it is often a better choice. A slice of apple pie can have nearly 20 grams of fat, more than 400 calories and only 3 grams of protein – whereas a 1.25-ounce serving of Jack Link’s Beef Jerky has 18 grams of protein with only 1 gram of fat and 100 calories. Jerky is so popular that it even has its own holiday, National Jerky Day, celebrated annually June 12.
Create snacking pizzazz with fun pairings
Instead of traditional party-pairing standbys like chips and dip or crackers and cheese, plan a beer and jerky get-together, with a selection of brews paired with a bevy of jerky. Jack Link’s offers more than 100 options made from lean cuts of beef, turkey, chicken or pork, and flavors that range from savory or sweet to spicy. When making your beer selections, try interesting options from local and regional craft or microbreweries, to create the perfect snacking combo.
Most summer get-togethers offer a variety of beverages to satisfy every guest, such as wine, beer, spirits, fruit juice or soda. In moderation, these beverages can be a refreshing treat. They can, however, also leave you dehydrated and consuming more calories than you intended. Try pairing your beverage of choice with a healthy glass of water. Recent research shows that drinking two 8-ounce glasses of water before breakfast, lunch and dinner, while also cutting back on portions, can help you meet your weight loss goals. While each person's hydration needs are different, the Institute of Medicine advises that men and women should try to consume about nine to 13 cups of water a day, including water that can be found in food and other beverages, such as fruit, vegetables or even coffee.
Celebrate summer snacking the smart way this year. Create on-the-go feasts by taking healthier snacking choices with you – wherever you go under the sun.