Usually when I think of healthy snacks, fruits and vegetables come to mind. My kids also love to nosh on cheese and crackers so I wanted to find out if that was a reasonable choice. Turns out that when eaten in moderation, cheese can be a great snack for kids and grown-ups alike. Good news for me!
Nutrition Facts About Cheese
Cheese provides high amounts of calcium, which we probably all know, as well as protein. Cottage cheese and cheddar cheese are sources of riboflavin, also known as vitamin B2, which contributes to a healthy heart and nervous system. It was interesting to learn that cheese also contains phosphorus, iodine (essential for the thyroid), magnesium and zinc. A cool fact I learned is that cheese actually reduces the acidity of your mouth, decreasing the bacteria that can lead to cavities. Cheese is not a whole food but it provides many nutrients essential for our bodies and is a good addition to plenty of recipes!
That being said, it’s important to watch your portion sizes when you eat cheese. Unfortunately cheese is fairly high in fat, especially saturated fat. For example, one tablespoon of cream cheese contains three grams of saturated fat, while one ounce of cheddar cheese has six grams. You can use the Nutrition Data tracker on Self.com to help you figure out exactly how many calories and grams of fat are in a serving size of different kinds of cheese.
Healthy Snack Ideas Made with Cheese
Growing up, it was always fun to go to grandpa and grandma’s house and have string cheese and popsicles for a special snack. While that may not be the combination your kids are looking for, there are plenty of fun ways to incorporate cheese into snack time.
Make a fruit and cheese kabob by alternating honeydew melon, cantaloupe and cheese cubes on a small bamboo stick (cut off the sharp end for young children). Kraft’s Fruit and Cheese Snack Mix is another fun way to use these foods together.
Cut a green apple into small pieces and layer with a small slice of cheddar cheese on top of a Triscuit. Try melting some shredded Mexican cheese on a whole wheat english muffin and topping it with salsa. My kids love this! These snacks are a good combination of protein and whole grains, keeping you fuller longer.
As a spin on the traditional Ants on a Log made with peanut butter, you can spread cream cheese on slices of celery and top with raisins or craisins. Yum! For grown-ups, Laughing Cow cheese wedges or cream cheese is tasty when spread on crackers or on a whole grain tortilla rolled with ham and turkey.
Some other ideas are a half-cup of cottage cheese topped with fresh peaches, a mini whole wheat bagel spread with one tablespoon of cream cheese and my Strawberry Graham Snackers.
Adding a moderate amount of cheese to your diet for you and your kids is a healthy way to shake up your usual snack time fare.
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