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4 Tips to Make Your Favorite Childhood Snacks Healthier

While the snacks you had as a kid were delicious, they might not have been so good for you, nutrition-wise. Check out these tips to making healthier alternatives to some of your favorite snacks from childhood.
As a child, you most likely never counted calories or were concerned with fat, sugar and carbs. You happily munched on all of the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches you wanted to with blissful ignorance. As an adult, your nutritional habits have likely changed as you are now much more aware of what you are incorporating into your diet. Instead of totally boycotting specific foods, however, there are healthier alternatives to try so you can still enjoy some of your favorite treats from your childhood.
Peanut Butter and Jelly
White bread, peanut butter and some fruit spread are typically the staples in this classic snack—none of them being particularly healthy with their high calorie, sugar and carbohydrate counts. You don't have to ditch the PB&Js all together, but it may be a good idea to swap in some healthier ingredients. Try using a whole grain pita pocket, some low-calorie powdered peanut butter and sugar-free, zero-calorie grape fruit spread. Powdered peanut butter can also be substituted with almond butter, and instead of grape fruit spread, you can try adding fresh fruit like strawberries or apples. You can also try making your own grape jelly by cooking grapes on a stove, draining the juice for your spread and adding a slight amount of sugar. Using these healthier ingredients can help cut your calories and sugar content drastically while still producing a satisfying snack, just like the one you enjoyed as a kid.
  • 3 cups watermelon cubes
  • 2 cups fresh/frozen raspberries
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp. lime juice
Remember the hot summer days of your youth, running through the sprinklers outside and then coming in to cool off with a refreshingly icy popsicle? You can relive those moments and have a popsicle but without all of the artificial fruit flavor and unnecessarily high sugar content. Try making your own popsicles with fresh watermelon, raspberries, lime juice and a pinch of sugar. Puree all ingredients to create a special fruity blend that you can freeze in popsicle molds with sticks; bring some nostalgia back into your life by enjoying like you would the frozen creations of your childhood.
Macaroni and Cheese
  • 4 cups uncooked medium elbow macaroni
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 ¼ cups fat-free milk
  • ¼ cup 1/3-less-fat softened cream cheese
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ teaspoon bottle minced garlic
  • 1 ¼ cups shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese
A classic comfort food, mac and cheese was likely one of your go-to meals as a kid. Back then you didn't have to worry about all of that cheese and noodle-y goodness showing up on your thighs, so you might have since ditched this favorite. With some modifications, however, you can healthily re-introduce this classic into your diet. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box, leaving out salt and fat. Drain and set to the side. Then combine flour, salt and pepper in a large pan. Add milk, stirring until blended thoroughly. Drop cream cheese by teaspoonfuls into milk mixture and bring to a boil over medium-high heat as you constantly stir it. Then reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes or until the cream cheese melts and is thick. Add mustard, Worcestershire and garlic and stir together. Simmer for 1 minute, remove from heat and add cheddar cheese. Stir until cheese is melted, and then combine pasta and cheese sauce in a large bowl, tossing thoroughly.
Trail Mix
  • ½ cups roasted peanuts
  • ½ cup roasted almonds
  • ½ cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 oz banana or apple chips
  • ¼ cup raisins
While the trail mix of your younger years was probably yummy, it might have also been packed with potato chips or or other salty snacks. To make a version of this favorite that is less likely to make your sodium intake skyrocket, try adding some natural crunch and sweetness to it. Take some roasted peanuts and almonds, pumpkin seeds, banana or apple chips and raisins and combine them into a bowl for a satisfyingly crunchy and fiber-rich treat.
Being an adult can make you yearn for the carefree days of childhood, when you could eat whatever you wanted with no repercussions. Since your body likely reacts to foods differently now compared to when you were a child, it's important that you take proper consideration as to what you're eating. However, on those days when you want to let your inner child come out and play, you can still indulge in some of your favorite childhood snacks, albeit in a healthier way.
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