Healthy Snack Options

Peanut Butter & Banana Breakfast Shake

1 cup of fat free or 1 percent low-fat chocolate milk
one-half cup frozen banana slices
1 tablespoon peanut butter
one-half teaspoon vanilla extract
one-quarter teaspoon ground cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a blender; blend until smooth and creamy. Serve in tall glass or on-the-go drink container.

Nutritional Facts Per Serving

Calories: 270
Total Fat: 9g
Saturated Fat: 2g
Cholesterol: 5mg
Sodium: 220mg
Carbohydrates: 35g
Dietary Fiber: 3g
Protein: 15g
Calcium: 35 percent Daily Value

Hot Pizza Dip

6 ounces light cream cheese
one-half cup light sour cream
1 teaspoon oregano
one-half cup pizza sauce
1 cup shredded low-moisture, part-skim Mozzarella cheese
one-half cup grated Parmesan cheese
one-quarter cup diced red peppers
one-quarter cup sliced green onions
whole-wheat bread sticks or crackers

Combine cream cheese, sour cream and oregano in bowl. Stir until smooth. Spread evenly into a small pie plate or quiche pan. Top with pizza sauce, cheeses, peppers and onions. Bake at 350º for 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Serve with whole-wheat breadsticks or crackers.

Nutritional Facts Per Serving

Yield: 4 tablespoons per serving
Calories: 110
Total Fat: 6g
Saturated Fat: 4g
Cholesterol: 20mg
Sodium: 300mg
Carbohydrates: 5g
Dietary Fiber: Less than 1g
Protein: 7g (7 grams from dairy)
Calcium: 25 percent Daily Value

Q: Doesn't it cost more to eat nutrient-rich foods? A: Nutrient-rich foods, like dairy, deliver more bang for your buck than many other foods. For example, an 8-ounce glass of milk delivers 9 essential nutrients, like calcium and protein, at about 25 cents per serving. Be careful when making choices in the convenience snack aisles and try to focus on easy nutrient-rich snacks that pay you back, like yogurt and string cheese.

Q: What about calcium in other foods like orange juice and soy beverage? A: Milk provides one of the richest sources of well-absorbed calcium in the American diet, and it contains eight other essential nutrients, including vitamin D, that helps enhance calcium absorption. Due to the inconsistency in fortification of soy/rice beverages and orange juice, milk is the most reliable calcium source.

Q: What are the best shopping tips to stretch your dollar and get more nutrition? A: Smart shopping tips for more nutrition and lower cost. Shop the perimeter of the store and choose less processed foods. By choosing items that are less processed, you spend less money and get items that are healthier. Choose brightly colored fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and fat free or low-fat dairy. Stock up on low cost frozen and pantry items especially when they are on sale: canned or frozen fruits and veggies, oatmeal, whole grain pasta, rice, brown rice, peanut butter.

Q. Why is breakfast so important? A. A simple breakfast at home or school can ensure that your child doesn't start the day hungry. It also ensures that your child has the nutrients and energy he or she needs during the morning to concentrate on learning, think clearly and be on their best behavior.

Q. Can breakfast really help children learn better? A. Studies show that a simple breakfast at home or school boosts brain power! The American Dietetic Association reports that children who eat breakfast have improved concentration, score higher on tests, have better behavior, have improved attendance.

Q. How does breakfast contribute to a child's health? A. Children who don't eat breakfast are less likely to get all of the essential nutrients they need each day. Eating a nutritious breakfast is a great way for children to be on target to meet their daily needs for key nutrients that are often lacking in children's diets such as calcium, potassium, fiber and vitamin E ("nutrients of concern" according to the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Q. What about sugary breakfast cereals? Aren't those bad for kids? A. You do want to be mindful of a child's sugar intake. One way to boost the nutrition is to mix sugary cereals with lower sugar types, which still satisfies their sweet tooth. Another idea is to add fresh fruit, like sliced bananas or strawberries.

Q. Isn't chocolate milk full of sugar? A. Chocolate milk has less sugar glass for glass than soda and juice drinks, and kids love the taste. Chocolate milk provides the same amount of important nutrients as white milk, such as calcium, protein and riboflavin.

Q. What if my kids aren't hungry in the morning? A. Start small. Try a piece of fruit and a half a carton of yogurt and work up. Or, get the kids ready for school first, and by the time they've been up for a while, they may feel hungry.

Q. Isn't snacking simply a bad habit? A. Kids generally eat smaller portions of food than adults and need to refuel more often. Snacking helps control eating associated with going too long between meals. Plus, these mini meals provide up to one-fourth of a child's daily energy needs, helping fill important nutrient gaps. Be sure to keep healthful, nutrient-rich snacks, like low-fat or fat-free single serve milks, string cheese and yogurt, on hand.

Q. What if I'm not there when my child arrives home from school? A. Plan ahead. Make sure that your child has nutritious snack items ready to eat when they get home from school. Stock your fridge and pantry with snacks that are ready to eat (no preparation needed). When you buy your groceries, portion out appropriate servings into baggies or plastic containers so your child already has items prepared and portioned out. School age children can even help you with this task!

For more tips on how to make meaningful change this school year for your family and your wallet, go to

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