Snack Smart: Avoid Hidden Calories

Some seemingly healthful snacks can pack a caloric punch. Can you pick out the low-calorie poser?

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Nothing satisfies a mid-afternoon slump like a good healthy snack. Snacks can be a between-meal pick-me-up with many nutritional advantages. Snacking helps your metabolism stay well-tuned, keeps you from sabotaging a well-meaning diet and prevents ravenous overeating at mealtimes. It keeps blood sugar level so you aren't irritable and helps you focused. Kids get much of their nutrition throughout the day from snacks and most diets make provisions for snacking.

But seemingly healthful snacks can pack a caloric punch without your knowledge. Let's test your snack smarts and see if you can pick out the healthy poser.

Question: It's 4:00 and you're stuck at work with the poorly-stocked kitchen. Which snack has fewer calories, trail mix or cookies?

Answer: Cookies

Commercially prepared trail mix can be loaded with salted peanuts, milk chocolate morsels and sugarcoated dried fruit that can make a 1/2 cup cost you 320 calories. Whereas one raisin cookie weighs in at 250 calories. The solution? Make your own trail mix: include true tree nuts like raw almonds and walnuts for protein, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids; and dried cranberries and dark chocolate for antioxidants.