Smart Snacks: Staying Healthy on the Go
With a little pre-planning, it's easy to have nutritious, high-energy snacks and lunches at work -- or just about anywhere.
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You know junk food is bad for you; do we need to list the maladies it causes? But it's so easy: a soda, a bag of chips, a Snickers bar -- two bucks and two minutes.
For your own health, though, and that of young and impressionable kids around you, consider these alternatives.
- Bring some mixed greens, sunflower seeds, and lemon juice to toss up a salad. If you want a more substantial meal, add almonds or walnuts or even some canned salmon. The greens are packed with antioxidant vitamins A and C. Nuts, seeds, and salmon ward off heart disease, and fuel the brain with omega-3 fatty acids.
- Store bags of frozen spinach, broccoli, and sliced red, yellow, and green bell peppers in the teachers'-room freezer. At home, throw a chicken breast into the oven with your favorite spices and a little olive oil. (It's high in vitamin B, which fights stress and increases energy.) Bring the chicken to school and zap it with your frozen veggies, adding a sprinkle of nuts or seeds. Parmesan cheese is also a tasty and nutritious topping, high in calcium and iron. But go easy on it; it's also high in sodium.
- For sweet snacks, try dried cherries, cranberries, or blueberries, all without sulfates, sugar, or other additives (Trader Joe's has a good selection). These fruits are high in antioxidants, which help the immune system and combat seasonal colds. Better still, watch for elderberries, black currants, and chokeberries, which help prevent various cancers and heart disease, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture study. These so-called purple berries are 50 percent higher in antioxidants than other berries because of their darker skins.