On Your Health

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Healthy and Quick Snacks for Growing Teens

Welcome to Ask the Expert, a new regular feature on I On Your Health. We’ll check in with non-M.D. INTEGRIS clinicians on a variety of health and wellness topics of interest to our readers. For M.D. questions, we are still publishing Ask the Doctor blog posts regularly.

This month we’re featuring a special month-long Ask the Dietitian. For National Nutrition Month 2017, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics urges everyone to start small — one forkful at a time. The theme for the month is “Put Your Best Fork Forward.” If you start small you’ll find it easier to sustain the change over the long haul.

Registered Dietitian Kelsey Duncan from the INTEGRIS Weight Loss Center has received your nutrition questions on social media and will answer a question every Tuesday this month. Here’s her second question.

I have a teenage son who eats a fairly balanced and healthy diet, but he does eat fast food a lot.  What are some high nutrition choices that he can either grab and go or very quickly prepare instead of grabbing a fast food burger?

Teens are growing so it makes sense they are often hungry! They need a lot of calories to support their rapid physical and mental growth. Healthy snacks are a great way to satisfy hunger in between meals and are also an opportunity to include nutrients that might be lacking in your teen's diet.

For example, if he generally doesn't t eat enough fruit or vegetables during the day (which, according to the National Institutes of Health, is likely) adding those to snacks can be a great way to increase the intake of those foods.

Look for snack options that contain fiber, which will help your teen feel full, such as whole grain breads, cereals, fruits and vegetables, and combine those with protein-rich snacks such as peanut butter, yogurt, cheese or lean meats for more snack satisfaction that will help teens feel full longer.

Great grab and go snack ideas for teens

Peanut butter and banana pockets: Spread 1-2 tablespoons peanut butter over a whole wheat tortilla. Top with ½ sliced banana, ¼ tsp cinnamon, 1 ½ teaspoon honey. Fold tortilla in half and cook in skillet for 1-2 minutes each side.

String cheese plus a handful of almonds: Cheese provides calcium which is needed for growing teens’ bones and almonds provide healthy fats and six grams of protein per ¼ cup.

Sliced veggies and hummus: Store sliced vegetables in the fridge and serve with hummus. Individual, shelf stable containers of hummus are also available as a great to-go dip.

Single serving Greek yogurt: Aim for at least 12 grams of protein per 6 oz serving and unsweetened versions, which generally contain less sugar (8 grams or less). Serve yogurt on its own or top with mixed nuts or sliced fruit to make a parfait.

Bean and Cheese Quesadilla: Whole wheat tortilla topped with ¼ cup beans, ¼ cup shredded cheese and salsa. Microwave, heat on skillet, or eat as is.

Fruit Smoothies: Combine 2 cups frozen mixed berries, 1 cup Greek yogurt, 1 cup milk and 1 tbsp honey. Mix in blender and serve.

Turkey roll up: Whole wheat tortilla with topped with turkey breast and shredded cheese. Microwave, heat on skillet, or roll up and eat cold.

Trail mix: Create your own using ½ cup unsalted peanuts, ½ cup sliced almonds, ½ cup dried fruit such as raisins or cranberries, 1 cup air popped popcorn, 1 cup wheat or bran flakes cereal. Combine in bowl and separate into individual serving size bags.

Avocado, hummus, and cheese pita pocket: Whole wheat pita bread stuffed with 2 tbsp hummus. 1/8 avocado thinly sliced, 1 slice cheese.

Veggie pizzas: ½ whole wheat English muffin topped with tomato sauce, chopped vegetables and shredded mozzarella cheese. Microwave or bake in oven.

Apple slices and nut butter: Various options of nut butters are now available including 1.5 oz single serving peanut butter which contain 9 grams of protein and almond butter squeeze packs which contain 6 grams of protein per serving.

Kelsey Duncan, M.S., RD, LD, is a dietitian at the INTEGRIS Weight Loss Center