by Alexis Elliott, LCSW, CDE, CHES
Health Education Specialist and Behavioral Health Coach, FirstHealth Community Health Services
Beat the heat and take advantage of all the freshest options this season has to offer.
You can guarantee refreshing, tasty summer snacks that are easy on your waistline. The snacks below require minimal ingredients, almost no time to assemble, and are weight-management friendly!
We're supposed to consume at least three servings of vegetables a day (and ideally five or more), but most of us fall short. A recent study revealed that the average American only gets one and a half. One easy way to eat more vegetables: snack on them! The following vegetable snacks will fill you up and keep you energized until your next meal.
- Cut fresh veggies into bite sizes and keep chilled for a refreshing snack. Try a variety for a range of color, texture and flavors. Bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, cucumbers or tomatoes are all super tasty and perfect for a party tray, to pair with a meal or simply to enjoy as a snack.
- Rethink the typical high-fat ranch and French onion dip and try something new. Try hummus, plain low-fat Greek yogurt with fresh herbs or a homemade balsamic-based dip for flavorful and unique options that your veggies will thank you for.
- Try guacamole! It’s a festive delight that is veggie-packed. Use as a dip for raw veggies or whole-grain chips. Add it to sandwiches, wraps and salads.
- Use a toothpick to hold a cherry tomato, basil leaf and mozzarella cube and make your own Caprese Skewers. These bite-sized treats are refined and rich in flavor and work well as an afternoon snack, appetizer or a party treat.
- For a cool and crunchy snack that invigorates, try dill pickle spears. Pickles help replenish electrolytes that are lost during activity, especially in the summer heat. Be sure to watch portion sizes for sodium intake.
Keep fruit around for a convenient and refreshing snack. There are endless options – especially in the summer! Enjoy watermelon, strawberries, peaches, kiwi or cantaloupe while they are in season.
- Pair two, a few or several for a fruit salad.
- Fruit on a stick makes a fun option that offers a variety of fruits. These are great for parties or a snack on the go. They are also kid-friendly.
- Make use of your freezer for an easy snack that cools you down. Grapes, blueberries and even watermelon slices work well frozen.
- A tasty and unsuspecting way to get in your fruits and vegetables are smoothies. Add in leafy greens like kale and spinach for some added nutrients.
- Make your own fruit popsicles with blended fruit or smoothies. Popsicle trays are a low-cost investment for the classic treat in the heat.
- Add fruits to a traditional salsa recipe for a burst of summer flavors. Mango, peach and pineapple are great options to add a sweet spin.
- Incorporate seasonal fruits into a parfait with homemade granola and protein-packed Greek yogurt.
What is your favorite healthy summer treat?
Alexis Elliott has worked with FirstHealth Community Health Services since 2012. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the state of North Carolina and has been a nationally Certified Health Education Specialist since 2009. In 2015, Alexis achieved the title of Certified Diabetes Educator. As a Health Education Specialist, she partners with community members and organizations to offer health education classes, including the Healthy Kitchen, PLAY, FirstQuit and Stanford Chronic Disease Self-Management Program. As a Behavioral Health Coach, she works in the Transition Care Clinics in Moore, Montgomery, Richmond and Hoke Counties. In this setting, she provides coaching to individuals with chronic illnesses who present behavioral health and self-management concerns, helping them to move toward improved disease management and overall quality of life. Alexis also works with the Diabetes and Nutrition Education Center to take healthy coping a step further by providing behavioral health coaching for individuals who struggle with depression and other barriers to effective diabetes self-management.