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Snack Like a Pro: Tips from the NY Knicks' Nutritionist

Make your own trail mix to always have a healthy snack ready. (Photo by Peter Ardito)

Written by Lisa Turner, Editorial Intern

When the New York Knicks need to refuel for a big game, they turn to Heidi Skolnik, M.S., C.D.N., FACSM, and founder and president of Nutrition Conditioning, which oversees the nutrition programs at The Juilliard School, The New York Knicks, School of American Ballet, and Fordham University Athletics. We got Skolnik's pointers on how to make good-for-you snacks that won't damage your waistline.

What can I stock in my fridge that I can grab n' go?

Planning ahead is always the best way to ensure you’re prepared with a healthy snack and don’t face the vending machine dilemma. There’s a lot of easy and simple options to choose from:


  • Whole wheat Pita stuffed with peanut butter and banana with a small glass of milk
  • Hard boiled egg, small OJ, whole grain crackers
  • Fruit parfait: fresh or frozen fruit, yogurt, a sprinkle of Grape nuts or muesli and nuts
  • Homemade trail mix with nuts and dried fruits and a cheese stick

Grab ‘n Go Snacks:

What's a calorie limit I should shoot for with a snack?

Ultimately, it depends on your meal size and daily caloric needs.   If you need 1800 calories in a day and meals are 400-500 calories that leaves two snacks at 150-300 calories.

Snack ideas:

  • Banana and almond butter
  • Mango smoothie made with calcium fortified OJ and lactose free whey protein powder
  • Quinoa, vegetable and edamame cold salad
  • Popcorn –sprinkle with olive oil and herbs of choice
  • Hummus with crudités or spread on a corn or rice cake

What's a good high-protein snack?

  • Turkey slices
  • Beef or Salmon jerky
  • Cheese sticks
  • Yogurt (add some fruit or nuts)
  • Cottage Cheese

Is eating several snacks throughout the day instead of three big meals a good idea?

It is different for everyone based on schedule, food preferences, hunger and appetite.  Some people do better when they eat two to three "main meals” with snacks in between. Others may fare better with smaller “mini-meals” consumed throughout the day.  The idea is that your calories consumed are distributed rather evenly throughout the day. The best plan of action is one that works for you, that is sustainable, practical and healthy.

What do you recommend pre- and post-workout?

If you work out first thing in the morning,  try 15 -25 grams of easy to digest carbs, like applesauce, half a banana or an 8 oz sports drink.

If you work out after work and it's been hours since lunch, plan on a snack two hours prior to working out (think yogurt and a piece of fruit;, a small turkey sandwich or open faced peanut butter and banana). I recommend keeping a stash of options in your locker, desk or gym bag like  GoGo squeeZ Applesauce because it is portable, requires no spoon to consume, and is all-natural!

Post-workout foods are important if your exercise has been intense and it will be an hour and a half or more until the next time you will eat. Consuming a recovery snack helps you restore energy and stimulate building of muscle. Easy recovery snacks include a yogurt parfait or whey protein shake.