It's that time of year again - the kids are back at school, and you begin a hectic couple months of work and social commitments that last well into the holiday season. If your fall days are packed, create these super quick pre-dinner snacks for you and your kids. The 15 treats below are healthy, fast and inspired by the flavors of fall. Enjoy!
Roasted pumpkin seeds and chickpeas. Nothing says autumn like pumpkin! Coat a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray, and add a layer of pumpkin seeds. Sprinkle the seeds with a dash of salt, and then roast them at 325 F for about 25 minutes, or until toasted. If you're in a pinch, try half a serving (1/8 cup) of Eden Organic Pumpkin Seeds. Not a pumpkin lover? Roast chickpeas with cayenne and cumin instead.
Single serving cheese with fruit. Get your snack fix with an individual serving of cheese, such as string cheese, a Mini Babybel or a one-ounce piece of Cabot cheese. Pair the cheese with a piece of seasonal fall fruit, such as apples or pears.
Nuts. The nuts out of the package are fine, but how about adding an autumn twist by roasting almonds, walnuts or cashews with a trio of cinnamon, nutmeg and ground cloves? Enjoy snacking on about one ounce of nuts. I like to use a shot glass to measure out my serving, and then place them into a snack-size bag for easy transport.
Raw veggies and hummus. Slice your favorite fall veggies, and then pair them with hummus - but not just any old hummus. There are many, many flavors out there, including those that accent the season. Dip into hummus with flavors such as smoked paprika and cumin.
Granola bars. Ditch the cookies, but keep the eight ounces of non-fat milk to pair with this convenient, go-to snack. There are likely many seasonal granola bars out there that include flavors such as pumpkin, maple and cinnamon. Choose one with no more than 200 calories and eight grams of sugar and at least 3 grams of fiber.
Beef jerky. This may sound like an odd snack idea, but beef jerky has come a long way from how you may remember it. I like the gourmet dried meats from Simply Snackin, as well as the delicious flavors from Krave Jerky, including Black Cherry Barbecue and Sweet Chipotle.
Baked chips with dip. When a snack attack hits you and the kids, satisfy it with a serving of baked chips or tortilla chips dipped in guacamole or salsa. To get into the swing of fall, try Foods Should Taste Good's Sweet Potato Tortilla Chips so it doesn't become a ho-hum snack.
Popcorn. Ditch the large bag of microwave popcorn in favor of three cups of the air-popped variety topped with a pumpkin pie spice (a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves and ginger). Complete this delicious snack with a small piece of cheese to keep you fuller longer.
Hot chocolate. Everyone loves warming up with a mug of hot chocolate as the weather cools. Make yours with one cup of non-fat milk, and welcome the cooler weather.
Homemade parfait. Grab an individual serving of cottage cheese (like Breakstone's 2 percent) or a cup of low-fat plain Greek yogurt, and top it with berries. Add a sprinkle of Bear Naked Maple Pecan Granola to give it the delicious flavor of fall.
English muffin with nut butter. Savor the season by topping one of Thomas' Pumpkin Spice English Muffins with natural almond butter or peanut butter. Try to limit the topping to one tablespoon. For a savory treat, consider spreading hummus on top of the English muffin.
Turkey slices. Construct your snack by wrapping turkey slices in lettuce and adding a little spicy mustard, or layer the turkey on 100-percent whole-grain crisps. Add a few slices of apple for an extra (seasonal) crunch.
Deviled eggs. Create a healthy version of deviled eggs by using low-fat mayonnaise or Greek yogurt. Use only two-thirds of the yolk, and replace the rest with cottage cheese. Paprika is typically the star of this dish, but make it fall-appropriate with a pinch of allspice or nutmeg.
Seasonal soup. Hot, seasonal soups make a satisfying snack. Stock up on nutritious favorites such as split pea, lentil, black bean, or chicken with vegetables, and stick to a one-cup serving.
Baked apples. Baked apples are seasonal staples that are simple to make. Put the whole apple in a microwaveable dish with a little apple juice and cinnamon. Cook them for about three minutes on high or until soft, and be sure to top the apples with a dollop of low-fat Greek yogurt to complete the snack.
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Keri Gans, MS, RDN, CDN, is a registered dietitian/nutritionist, media personality, spokesperson, and author of The Small Change Diet. Gans's expert nutrition advice has been featured in Glamour, Fitness, Health, Self and Shape, and on national television and radio, including The Dr. Oz Show, Good Morning America, ABC News, Primetime, and Sirius/XM Dr. Radio.