Q: "I have a 16 year old daughter who is 175cm tall and weighs just over 50kg. She plays several sports with 5 practices and 3 games each week, and she loves other activities like skate boarding etc. I try to ensure she has plenty of snacks for before and after practices and games, but it is hard to ensure she has enough energy-rich food without too much sugar or fat. Can you suggest some useful foods to include in her diet? (Tinned rice and bananas are off the menu.)"
A: We asked nutritionist Claire Turnbull to help:
"Carbohydrate is the ideal fuel for exercise. This means trying to base meal and snacks on carbohydrate-rich foods such as pasta, rice, bread, potatoes, kumara, breakfast cereals and fruit. Other handy foods that have carbohydrate, as well as some protein include yogurt, milk, and dairy-based smoothies.
Your daughter is very physically active, quite lean and still growing, so it's important to make sure she's eating enough and getting plenty of healthy, energy-rich foods. Before her exercise or sports practices, aim for snacks based on slowly absorbed (low-GI) carbohydrates with a little protein to help supply a steady stream of energy. Try:
Whole grain crackers with hummus or cottage cheese
Slice of whole grain toast topped with a small can of flavoured tuna or salmon
Small can of tuna, mixed with leftover pasta, chopped tomatoes and ripped basil leaves
Small bowl of muesli with yoghurt and milk
Low-fat yoghurt with frozen berries and chopped nuts
Smoothie made with a 1/2 cup trim milk, 1/2 cup yoghurt, 1 banana, 2 tablespoons oats and a dollop of honey
Small handful of dried fruit and nuts
Poached egg on a slice of whole grain toast
Homemade low-fat banana bran muffin
Leftover chunks of roast potato, kumara, pumpkin, warmed up
Bowl of thick vegetable and lentil soup
For afterwards, try a carbohydrate-rich snack with more quickly absorbed carbohydrate (medium- to high-GI) along with a little protein. This will help her to refuel quickly.
Toasted bagel with ricotta cheese and sliced pear
Crumpet with peanut butter and a teaspoon of jam
Breakfast cereal, low-fat milk and chopped fruit
Slice of thick fruit toast or a fruit bun and a low-fat yoghurt
Handful of dried apricots or raisins and a few almonds
Handful of pretzels and a glass of milk
Mini pita bread stuffed with shredded chicken, salad and a dollop of chutney."