Snacks play an essential role in a healthy diet. When picked properly, they provide extra energy between meals. Sometimes when we don’t have a large appetite, snacks can simply maintain nourishment. Although these mini-meals play a key role in health, choosing quality snacks can be a challenge. Here are some easy ideas that will keep you on track!
Do you crave crunch?
Many of us crave savory, crunchy snacks. Instead of reaching for those processed cards, here are some swaps that are sure to please your palate.
- Nuts and Seeds – These little guys are nutrient powerhouses. Full of healthy fats, fiber and protein, nuts and seeds will help keep you satisfied. Mix up a variety for your own healthy trail mix. Try to choose raw, unsalted nuts and remember ¼ cup is one serving. Paired with a piece of fruit, you’ve got a perfectly balanced snack! If you struggle with portion control or need some crunch on the go, look for single serving packs of raw nuts and seeds at your grocery store. Keep them in your purse for when you’ve got a busy day running errands.
- Popcorn – This whole grain treat can be super healthy when prepared right! Air-popped popcorn is ideal. Pop a big batch of your own to last the week. You can even add fun flavors to make it an extra special treat. Check out Spice Up Your Snacks for flavor inspiration. For a cheesy popcorn flavor, try adding nutritional yeast.
- Oven-Roasted Chickpeas – Chickpeas are a great snack because they keep you full with their fiber and protein content. Make a large batch at the beginning of the week so you have a daily healthy snack on-hand. Start by preheating your oven to 450 degrees. Meanwhile rinse, drain and dry your chickpeas. Then toss with olive oil and add your spices (try making both sweet and savory batches). Spread on a cookie sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until browned and crunchy.
Like to dip?
Check out these easy and yummy alternatives to your chips and dip!
- Hummus – This high fiber spread pairs perfectly with all kinds of veggies! Instead of reaching for the usual carrots and celery, try enjoying with bell peppers, broccoli or even spreading on a cabbage leaf as part of a tasty lettuce wrap. Don’t feel like chopping? Grab a bag of cleaned and cut green beans and dip away!
- Yogurt – Get in your protein and probiotics with some Greek or strained yogurt. Opt for the plain yogurt and jazz it up with fresh fruit, a dash of cinnamon or even a teaspoon of raw honey or good quality maple syrup.
- Nut Butters – Paired with fruit or even veggies, natural nut butters are great for adding some quality calories to your diet. You can even find single serving packets of these if you’re on the run.
A little something sweet!
To satisfy your sweet tooth, here are a couple healthy ideas that are low in sugar and sure to please!
- Chia Seed Pudding – Grab a small mason jar. Mix 2 tablespoons of chia seeds with ¾ cup of plain yogurt, kefir or non-dairy milk. Sweeten with a little honey or maple syrup. Add some cinnamon, vanilla, cocoa or even pumpkin spice, and let it sit in the fridge overnight. Make several jars to have whenever you need a sweet fix!
- Greek Frozen Yogurt Treats – No time to make a snack? No problem! Pick up some Greek or strained yogurt tubes. Yes, the kind you may pack in a lunch box! Store them in the freezer and eat as a sweet snack when you’re in the mood for something cool and creamy.
- No Bake Date Energy Bites – These are so easy and – even better – customizable! The only equipment you need is a food processor. Blend 2 cups of your favorite nut or seed until crumbled. Then add 2 cups pitted dates and any other spices or ingredients you’d like! My 2 favorite combos are dark cocoa powder with shredded coconut, and vanilla extract with sea salt and mini dark chocolate chips. Roll into balls and refrigerate or freeze! They are very rich, so you’ll only need 1 or 2 to satisfy your craving!
Healthy eating doesn’t have to be hard work; it just takes a little planning and creativity.
Have fun with your food and get snacking!