Half-time Snacks: Beyond The Orange Slice

imagesHalf-time snacks…Fruit, fruit, fruit…right? Orange slices have been associated with halftime during soccer and football games for many years. We have all been handed the “snack signup sheet,” and for half-time snacks, there’s never been a question; fruit is best. But is it? I have been reading some articles interviewing experts in the field of sports nutrition lately, and I’m finding out that the subject is being discussed at all levels.

Last time we talked about what young athletes’ bodies need after the game is over, but what do they need during half-time? Simple, they need fluid and carbohydrates. Of course, fluids and electrolytes lost in sweat need to be replenished, and carbohydrates are important in providing that energy to get athletes through that second half of the game.  Fruit, always accepted by kids and composed mainly of simple carbohydrates and fluid, would seem to be the perfect snack. And indeed they can be; bananas, orange slices, grapes, melons and apple wedges are filled with important nutrients to keep your athlete performing their best during the second half of the game.

But some sports nutritionists, including Bob Seebohar, Olympic sports dietitian, have commented on the fact that too much fruit may be counterproductive for athletes when eaten during half-time. Fruit contains mostly fructose as its sugar, and fructose can slow digestion from the stomach, making athletes less energetic during the second half of the game. What this means is that while fruit can still be a good choice for half-time, make sure your athletes don’t overdo it; 1-2 orange slices and plenty of water will do the trick, but 4-5 slices may actually slow them down.

What to Avoid: juice drinks, “fruit snacks” and commercial fruit rollups are full of sweeteners and corn syrup, so it’s better to stay away from them (actually, stay away from them at all times!).

With all that said, is there a better half-time snack?  Well, interestingly enough, I’ve read a few articles discussing the benefits of, of all things, Fig rolls/cookies! Fig rolls can be an ideal choice for half-time, since they are packed with both simple and complex carbohydrates, as well as a good amount of sodium and potassium, providing athletes with a consistent source of energy for the second half of the game. Other suggestions include whole grain pretzels or crackers with sports drinks (I still love Greater Than, or Power Ice for those hot days!)

If you decide to go the “Fig roll” route, as with everything else, homemade is best! Below is a great recipe from Melissa King and http://mywholefoodlife.com/ for Homemade Fig Newtons. These are made with whole grains and no refined sugars. They can be made with any fruit (more of a Nutri-Grain bar). I made them and they are delicious! Kids loved them!
Homemade Fig Newton  (source http://mywholefoodlife.com/)images



For the cookie
For the filling
  • 15-20 figs (I used dried Turkish Figs I got at Sprouts)
  • 1 T maple syrup
  • water


For the filling
    • In a food processor, grind up the figs, 1 T maple syrup and a bit of water. You want the figs to be the consistency of peanut butter so only add a bit of water. I think I used about 1 tablespoon.
    • Blend into a paste and set aside.
For the cookie
  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • In one bowl mix all the dry ingredients.
  • In another bowl, mix the wet.
  • Add dry to wet and mix only until combined. Be careful not to over-mix. The dough will be sticky and a bit wet.
  • Gather it in a ball and wrap it.
  • Put the dough in the fridge for about an hour to firm up.
  • Once firm, roll the dough onto a floured surface. I tried to roll my dough as square as possible.
  • Once the dough is rolled out, spread the fig mixture onto half of the dough.
  • Once the fig mixture is spread, fold 1 half of the dough onto the other and cut into squares. I cut mine into about 2×2 squares and used a pizza cutter to do so.
  • Place on lined baking sheet and bake for about 12-15 minutes.
  • I got about 16 out of my batch.


Good luck this season and make the most of your half-time snack!

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