When it comes to a quick, convenient and on-the-go snack, bread is a top choice for busy moms. But rumblings about slashing carbohydrates in an effort to increase health might have you confused about the nutritional value of your old standby snack. Understand the ways you can healthfully keep bread as a part of your snacking routine to ease your worries about bread's nutritional punch.
If you are worried about your family's fat intake, bread is not a food to fear. Most types of sliced bread have between 1 and 2 grams of fat per serving. When you're comparing bread to other common snack foods -- like chips, cookies or even granola bars -- bread comes out on the low end in the fat department. Instead, bread offers a big dose of complex carbohydrates, which are your body's preferred source of caloric energy. Enriched breads also score high marks for vitamins B and E, as well as digestive-supporting fiber. Most breads are low in sugar, sodium and cholesterol, rounding off the impressive nutritional data.
Choosing the Best Bread
It's easy to be overwhelmed by the variety of breads available at the grocery store, but understanding which types of breads deliver the largest nutritional value for the lowest fat impact helps you navigate the aisles. Whole grains and flours offer higher fiber than white flours, and the denser concentration of carbohydrates in whole grains will keep you fuller in between meals. Check for bread labels that list whole wheat, grains or oats among the first ingredients. Higher fiber content will keep your kids feeling full so they're less prone to snack on higher-fat foods while they wait for mealtime. Enriched breads are fortified with essential B vitamins and folic acid, but keep an eye on labels to make sure your enriched breads are still less than 100 calories and 2 grams of fat per slice.
Even if you start out with fat-free or low-fat bread, what you add to your bread can break your calorie bank in a heartbeat. If you power through your afternoon with peanut butter on toast, make the switch to low-fat peanut butter to keep the protein boost without the unnecessary oils. Sugar-free jams and jellies spare your kids the unneeded empty calories. Instead of coating rolls in butter to keep you held over until dinner is served, opt for a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. If your child has a sweet tooth, skip the chocolate spreads and opt for sliced banana drizzled with a teaspoon of honey or agave nectar.
Bread Snack Ideas
If your regular bread routine is falling flat, spice it up with healthy, filling options to keep you and your kids away from the snack machine. Experiment with more exotic spreads like tabouli, hummus or tapenade to delight your taste buds without consuming unwanted fat and calories. Use your child's bread snack time as a chance to sneak in vegetables; a mashed avocado creates a nutritious bed for colorful slices of bell peppers, carrots and cucumbers. To get the most out of your snack, combine your carbohydrate-rich bread with a protein-rich topping; make a simple open-faced sandwich with a thin layer of fat-free cream cheese or light ranch dressing and a slice of deli turkey.