All of us, at one point or another, find ourselves reaching for a snack. It may seem like an innocent grab here or there but if you are not careful with your snack choices it can really sabotage your healthy lifestyle.
If done correctly, snacking can give you an opportunity to add healthy foods to your diet such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
Healthy snacking can even help with weight control by curbing your appetite so you won’t overeat at your next meal. However, in order for this to happen you need to make smart snack choices.
One thing to keep in mind, if you always find yourself ravenous between meals, it may be a sign that your meals are not well balanced. Or it could mean you are skipping meals.
Don’t let snacking sabotage your diet! Use this guide to help you make the right choices in and out of the home.
A general rule of thumb: stay away from the so-called ‘snack’ section of the grocery store. These are usually processed chips, crackers and other goodies that are filled with unhealthy oils, sodium and sugar.
Healthy snacks between meals are easy to come by. You don’t have to go to a specialty health food store to find them.
13 Healthy Snack Ideas (take note of serving size)
1. One slice of 100% whole grain toast with all natural peanut butter or almond butter
2. Fresh vegetables such as green beans, carrots, celery, and grape tomatoes. Many of these foods are portable by nature. Just give them a quick wash and they are ready to go! Fresh vegetables are a great choice because they fill you up with so few calories. One cup of raw non-starchy vegetables have 0 fat, 2-3 grams of fiber and only 25 calories. No need to worry about serving size here. The more you want to eat the better. I’m not going to stop you
3. A piece of fresh fruit or a cup of fresh berries make the ultimate snack. Again, these foods are portable, low calorie and fiber rich! Apples, clementines, oranges, and pears are good choices for portability. One serving of fruit is a cup of berries or a piece of whole fruit the size of baseball. One serving of fruit is 60 calories. And yes, canned fruit can work too. Look for fruits canned in their own juice vs. syrups.
4. Apple slices dipped in natural peanut or almond butter. Keep your serving of nut butter here to less than 2 tablespoons. One tablespoon of peanut butter has 100 calories, it adds up quick!
5. A small handful of unsweetened dried fruit such as figs, raisins, apricots and apples. Dried figs are one of my favs! Recently Costco was selling a large bag of organic, unsweetened, sun dried figs. They were amazing!
6. ⅓ Cup of hummus with half of a large whole wheat pita. Hummus also works well with raw vegetables, especially carrots, celery and cucumber.
7. A small handful of nuts. I am recommending a small handful here because nuts, although very healthy, are very caloric. For example, 4 walnut halves contain 45 calories. I don’t want to deter you from eating nuts, just be conscious of your portion size. Choose unsalted or lightly salted varieties. I love to toast nuts. One of my favorite snacks is toasted walnuts with a little honey or agave nectar drizzled on at the end of cooking.
8. ⅓ C of trail mix. Choose fruit and nut varieties without chocolate or yogurt pieces (these tend to be a lot higher calorie). If you can find a mix without added sugar, grab it up! These are difficult to find but are preferred over those with added sugars. Fruit contains enough natural sugar, we don’t need extra!
9. ½ C low-fat granola with almond milk. I like to make my own granola in bulk and then keep it around the house for the upcoming week. Making your own granola will also allow you to control the amount of oil and sugar you use, a huge benefit!
10. Homemade popcorn, air popped or stove top using as little oil as possible. Im sorry, I just can’t ever justify buying microwave popcorn. It just doesn’t taste as good and its loaded with all sorts of naughty ingredients! Did you know popcorn is a whole grain? Another reason to have it as a snack.
11. A handful of pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds. Again, unsalted best here.
12. A 6oz container of yogurt. Plain yogurt is naturally tart so food companies have to add a lot of sugar to make it sweet. Try to find varieties with the lowest amount of sugar possible. To determine this, look at the grams of sugar per serving on the food label. Sometimes I just buy plain yogurt and add a drizzle of honey to better control the amount of sugar I consume.
13. A healthy granola bar. Be careful in the ones you choose! Many granola bars I have seen are just like candy bars. Healthy brands to look for are Kashi and Lara bars.
Hopefully this list has given you some new inspiration for healthy snacks! Even though I have some fancy snacks listed here, my favorites tend to be #1, #2, #3, #5 and #10.
Start making healthy snack choices today!
Question: I would love to hear about your favorite healthy snack! Leave a comment in the comments section below.
Photo by: pmo