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Healthy Snacking for the Budget Minded

I’ll be the first to admit that chocolate is my Achilles’ Heel and the odd package of gummy bears often lurks in my desk drawer, but overall, I’m pretty good at not loading the grocery card with not so good for you or your wallet treats. To start off the New Year, I asked Tracy Adler to offer some tips on healthy snacking. Tracy is mom of two, former restaurant owner and creator of Yum Yum Dishes. www.yumyumdish.com

They’re sold in packs of four and help train the whole family as to what a normal portion size should be. Tracy kindly sent me some bowls and now I fill them with things like popcorn or trail mix when I need a quick snack while working. Here are Tracy’s tips.

As a lover of all things containing sugar, I know the challenges of healthy eating. Yet over the years, three major eating tips have helped me stay slim – while enjoying the things I love to eat most. These tips are great for maintaining good health, monitoring your weight, and saving yourself a few dollars too.

1. The food rule that can change your life: “The further a food gets from the way nature hands it to you, the less of it you should eat.” Make this your shopping mantra and you can’t help but fill your kitchen with the food your body needs. Ever seen a pretzel tree? Watched someone milk a soy plant? Or harvest a rice-cake? Of course not! Those hard to resist foods that are processed beyond recognition should have a small place in your diet.

2. Moderation: Try not to label foods as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. How we think about food can play an important role in our eating habits.With that in mind, I have always allowed myself to view food as a simple pleasure and have enjoyed all foods in moderation. High calorie, high fat foods (processed or not) are eaten in small quantities, most recently in a Yum Yum Dish – a 4oz ceramic dish that helps remind me when ‘enough is enough’.

3.Tend the fire in your tummy: Too few people give their digestive fire enough – if any – consideration. Although your stomach works 24/7 and performs vital and amazing tasks such as digestion and nutrient extraction… it often receives little assistance or attention from its task-master. I think of my stomach as a little camp fire. If I throw too much wood (food) on it all at once, I know I’ll smother it. Calories that don’t burn up in the fire turn to fat so I make sure my fire is burning strong by doing two things. I constantly work to slow down and be fully aware when I’m eating. And instead of eating 3 times a day, I eat 5 or 6 smaller meals throughout the day.

There are health as well as economic advantages to changing your eating habits.

The cost of eating healthier foods can be offset by reducing the purchase of processed foods. Processed foods that do make their way into your kitchen will last longer if eaten in moderation, over a period of time. Think how long a half gallon of ice cream would last if you were eating a 4oz portion just a few times a week!

With a health care crisis facing America, it is imperative that we become more preventive in our approach to good health. Our choices will affect our quality of life as well as our long-term health care costs. Challenge yourself to develop some new eating habits in 2010. Adopt a few of the tips above or continue to research the food and lifestyle choices that are best for your body type. Good luck! And above all else, enjoy!

Some great ideas and here are a few ideas I’ve used to keep snacking at a minimum and keep it healthy…and low cost.

Don’t Buy The Prepackaged Bags
The prepackaged, 100 calorie treats are everywhere these days, but you can save money by making your own bags or even use something like Tracy’s Yum Yum dishes. Buy a regular size bag of crackers, chips etc, and divide them into smaller portions and put them in storage bags. I’ve done this with things like trail mix and then put the bags in a basket in the pantry which brings me to tip number 2.

Never Be Without A Snack
It’s inevitable you’re going to get hungry and go looking for something to eat. However, if you have something healthy on hand, you’re less likely to reach for the tub of ice cream sitting in the freezer. Plan ahead and think of ideas for snacks when you make your grocery list each week. I keep things like whole wheat crackers, nuts, trail mix, string cheese etc on hand all the time.

Rely on Fruits and Veggies
They really are the best snack for your money. And everyone’s got their favorites. Even children like things like bananas, kiwis, and tropical fruits like mangoes that are on sale this time of the year. Even canned fruits are better than candy and oftentimes cheaper too.
Here’s a dip I often make in the summer to accompany fruit platters but it’s great in the middle of winter when warm weather seems months away. I’ve even tried replacing the sour cream with yogurt and that works great too.

•½ cup cottage cheese, you can opt for a low fat variety
•½ cup sour cream, low or no fat varieties work just as well
•¼ cup toasted coconut, heat the coconut in a skillet for a few minutes until it turns lightly golden brown

Mix all the ingredients together and serve in a dish surrounded by sliced pineapple, kiwi, strawberries, bananas that have been sprinkled with lemon juice. Or serve a platter of these fruits with a scoop of this mixture in the center.

Not food Related
And here’s a tip that’s not food related but helps keep the snacking to a minimum. Most of us eat when we’re bored, so if you’re planning to go on a diet, look for a new hobby. You get so involved in it, learning a new skill that you forget about the odd trip or two to the fridge!

Next article…ways to get in shape for less.

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