Healthy Summer Snacks: Ideas for Active Lifestyles
Looking for healthy summer snack ideas? We’ll help you lighten up for the time of year when you wear less and are more active.
Ah, summer. It’s the favorite time of year for many—especially kids, of course—and what’s not to like? The days are long, the garden is going gangbusters, the farmers’ markets are in full swing, and there’s a festival going on somewhere every weekend. Everyone’s more active and looking for healthy summer snacks to keep us fueled without weighing us down. When you’re on the go, portability is everything.
Easy Summer Snacks
Whether you’re biking or hiking, hitting the links or browsing the flea markets, you want sustenance that goes with you and requires little prep or planning. Toss some munchies in a zip-top bag, stuff it in your backpack, golf bag or bike pack, and get out and enjoy life!
A trail mix containing nuts, dried fruits or even whole grains is the ultimate easy summer snack. These mixtures also make great summer snacks for kids, and could be more healthful alternatives to candy.
Healthy Summer Snacks
First off, we’re not going to tell you what’s healthy. After all, we’re the ones who sell indulgent chocolates and petits fours (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Also, everyone’s definition of healthy differs…as do your personal goals and dietary needs. So instead, let’s talk about some quality proteins, fats and carbohydrates that could make sense for your favorite summer activities.
Humans need protein, and meat is one of the best sources around. Unfortunately, you can’t just walk around with a steak…but meat sticks and jerky are a simple solution. Wild game versions of meat sticks generally offer lower fat contents than the full-beef versions. The “game” is actually farm-raised, of course (it’s illegal to sell wild game), which provides better quality control than the products hunters have made from their venison, and they travel very well.
Probably the ultimate in easy-traveling meat is jerky…which is also one of the leanest. Beef jerky is everyone’s chewy favorite, and a more tender version is made from pork.
Fats have been alternately demonized and lauded over the years, but nutrition experts today generally agree that a sensible serving of the right kinds of fat is very beneficial. Avocados, for instance, are high in fiber and in monounsaturated fats—one of the good kinds—but it’s pretty hard to eat an avocado on the move. Instead, reach for a handful of nuts. These little nuggets are a good way to include monounsaturated fats, protein and other nutrients in your diet. Some nuts have more of this vitamin or less of that fatty acid than other nuts, so mixed nuts are a great way to get a variety of nutrition, textures and tastes.
Speaking of demonized, say hello to the lowly carbohydrate: lower even than fats in the nutritional caste system. Yes, we need to limit our intake of sugar. But for active people, carbs (sugar included) provide instantly available energy. So don’t cut them out completely; choose them wisely.
Dried fruits are as tasty as their fresh counterparts, but in a much more portable and convenient form. Of course, there’s a catch. While many of the nutrients in fruit (antioxidants, vitamins, etc.) are concentrated by removing the water, so is the sugar. They’re also loaded with fiber, which can be a good thing…but they can cause bloating if you overeat them. Pack a sensible quantity (like the size of a golf ball) in a container to go.
Whole grains are another way to get good carbs. It takes longer for them to break down into usable sugar, but they contain other good things your body needs—like protein, fiber and other nutrients. Some trail mixes will contain granola-like blends of whole grains, sometimes mixed with nuts and/or dried fruits.
Healthy Summer Snack Ideas for Parties
Nobody takes summer more seriously than Scandinavians—particularly those living near or above the Arctic Circle. The summer solstice (known as Midsummer in these countries, even though the longest day of the year technically marks the beginning of summer) was a major holiday dating back to ancient times, and is still widely celebrated today.
Food and drink, of course, factor heavily in the festivities; a typical smörgåsbord (a Swedish word roughly meaning “sandwich table”) consists of a wide variety of dishes on a buffet table. Rather than sitting down to a heavy meal, guests nosh all evening while enjoying cocktails. A dinner of snacks, of course, should be a bit more substantial than those enjoyed while biking or golfing, but then there’s less of an emphasis on portability. A cheese and sausage tray is always a nice centerpiece—there’s a reason they call it “summer sausage”—surrounded by refreshing salads, bowls of nuts and other treats that can be enjoyed while standing and conversing.
And of course, it’s always a good idea to bring something to share when you’re invited to all those summer cookouts. Happy snacking!