Nutritionist’s Notebook: healthy snacks
My weekly Q and A for NYU’s student newspaper, Washington Square News
Published February 28, 2012
Marion Nestle is the Paulette Goddard professor of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health at NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. She is the author of “Food Politics” and, most recently, “Why Calories Count: From Science to Politics.” Each week, she will answer student questions about nutrition, health, and food.
Question: Do you have quick food recommendations for busy students who tend to skip breakfast/lunch or who don’t have time due to busy scheduling? Are there any grab-and-go options that you would recommend?
Answer: From the perspective of nutrition, two principles apply to on-the-go food. Look for fruits and vegetables whenever you can get them, and choose foods that are as unprocessed as possible. The closer you can get to eating basic foods, the more nutrients they contain for their calories — in nutrispeak, they are of high nutrient density.
To see what options might be available, I went to the dining hall at the Kimmel Student Center. Alas, chips are at every counter and cash register. You can do better.
Some healthy choices are obvious: bananas, pears and five kinds of apples. Others are carrot packs, yogurt, hard-cooked eggs, and hummus with pretzels.
You have to search hard for the other interesting options. A helpful manager pointed to snack packs of organic dried banana chips, mangos and goldenberries. Goldenberries look like raisins, which would be another good choice, but I didn’t see any. I also didn’t find any packages of nuts. These are great as long as you don’t eat too many. If you want your dorm cafeteria to carry items like this, ask!
Sandwiches work if they are not too big and unwieldy. The Pret a Manger on Astor Place offers half sandwiches in a stiff, thin cardboard. These are easy to eat on the run.
I avoid power bars. They violate my “no more than five ingredients” rule and I don’t particularly like the way they taste. If I want something sweet, I’ll go for the dark chocolate Brazil nuts I found at Kimmel. If you just eat a couple at a time, they are worth the price.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Feb. 28 print edition. Marion Nestle is a contributing columnist. Email her at [email protected].