It's hard to remember when the norm was three square meals a day, and snacks were relegated to nibbles at parties or as an afterschool bite to eat for kids. Today, whether young or old, snacks are a big part of our regular eating habits. In fact, a whopping 92 percent of us snack sometime during the day or evening, according to research by the Hartman Group.
Even more surprising? We're no longer using snacks just once or twice a day to quell hunger between meals. Snacks have moved into meal territory, and now make up half of all our eating occasions.
When it comes to smart snacking, the foods you choose - and how much you eat - matters. One of your best bets? Fruit! Just 13 percent of Americans eat the 1 1/2 to 2 cups of fruit recommended each day, and snacks offer an opportunity to close that gap.
For the perfect pick, think fresh grapes from California. At just 90 calories per 3/4 cup serving, their delicious, juicy taste hits the snacking sweet spot. Heart-healthy and hydrating, they're a nutrition bargain compared to many processed snacks high in calories, fat and added sugar that tend to offer little health bang for the buck.
Plus, grapes are portable - ideal for munching anytime, anywhere. With grapes, there's no fuss, no muss - and no peeling or coring required. Whether added to the lunch sack to help end the midday meal on a sweet note, or tucked in the briefcase or backpack at the ready for when hunger strikes, grapes are a super snack.
If late-night noshing is your nemesis, go with California grapes for a tasty, healthy and guilt-free option. And if the ice cream carton starts calling your name, opt for frozen grapes instead - they're just like a mini-sorbet. Simply rinse grapes and pat them dry, then place them on a sheet pan and pop them into the freezer for two hours. Store any extras in the freezer to keep them at the ready for your next snack attack.
Fresh grapes are a delicious addition to heartier snack fare, too, adding color, crunch and a light touch of sweetness:
* Make a fresh trail mix by combining grapes with cubes of cheese and a sprinkle of chocolate chips and nuts.
* Toss grapes into your favorite smoothie recipe.
* Spread celery stalks with peanut butter and place grapes on top to for a mix of crunch and sweetness.
* Put together snack sandwiches: smear a dab of cream cheese on top of graham crackers and top with halved grapes.
If game day requires a more adult-style snack - perhaps perfectly paired with a beer or glass of wine - try this scrumptious flatbread. You'll love the combination of saltiness from the cheese and prosciutto balanced by the light sweetness of the grapes.
Prosciutto, Red Grape and Pecorino Flatbread
Serves 8 as an appetizer
4 prepared 8-inch naan breads
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (divided)
3/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano (divided)
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/4 pound thinly sliced prosciutto
1 cup red California grapes, halved
1 cup arugula for garnish (optional)
Heat the oven to 500 F.
Brush the naan breads with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and place on sheet pans. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the pecorino and the lemon zest, then drape the prosciutto over the top. Add the grapes, then sprinkle with the remaining pecorino. Bake until grapes blister, about 10 minutes. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil, cut into wedges and serve.
Nutritional analysis per appetizer serving: Calories 250; Protein 12.5 g; Carbohydrate 26 g; Fat 10 g (36 percent calories from fat); Sat Fat 3.3 g (13 percent calories from saturated fat); Cholesterol 23 mg; Sodium 700 mg; Fiber 1 g.