Snacks are any food outside of the traditional three meals, breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
People love snacking and snack foods. Snacking can be influenced by many things such as hunger, boredom, or habit. (1)
Routinely snacking on foods such as chips, cookies, soda, and candies can lead to weight gain, dental issues, and may contribute to other chronic health conditions such as diabetes.
Snacks, no matter how you like them – sweet or salty, crunchy or chewy – can be a nutritious, satisfying, and filling.
Because snacking happens when you’re at home, at work or school, or on the road you have to be ready at any time for something to satisfy your hunger between meals.
5 HEALTHIEST SNACKS TO BUY
Bars are a great grab and go option but some can be packed with sugar. Watch out for chocolatey dips and coatings which can quickly contribute to added sugars.
My top bar pick is the Perfect Bar Almond Butter bar. It has simple ingredients, 13g of protein, 310 calories, 18g of sugar, and 4g of fiber.
Popcorn can be a great on the go snack that satisfies a need to munch.
Choose popcorns with reduced sodium.
Angie’s “Boomchickapop” is a great option for ready-to-eat popcorn. One serving of popcorn is 4 cups! One serving of sea salt popcorn contains 140 calories, 4 grams of fiber, and 0 grams sugar.
Pair this with a serving of almond or peanuts for added protein.
Trail mix and mixed nuts are great things to keep in your bag, glove box, or desk drawer. Look for trail mixes without added candies, pretzels, or cereals.
If you like the crunch pretzels and cereal add to trail mixes, portion out a few on your own and add them in.
My favorite trail mix style snack is Trader Joe’s Omega Trek Mix. The pre-portioned bags contain almonds, walnuts, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), pecans, pistachios, and dried cranberries.
This snack satisfies my sweet tooth and gives me a crunchy, chewy, snack that helps me make it through to lunch time.
If you’re at home, you can make a healthy snack in few minutes for a lot less money than some pre-packaged snacks. Two of my favorite, healthy, homemade snacks are homemade hummus and ants on a log.
Hummus is a cinch to make. There are tons of delicious recipes out there but a simple, quick bean spread is as easy as blending canned chickpeas, squeezing a lemon, and adding a scoop of tahini into a blender or food processor.
Be sure to drain and rinse your chickpeas well to reduce the sodium. Reserve about ¼ cup of the bean liquid to add to your hummus for smoothness and body.
You can add any flavors you like, garlic, chili powder, or everything bagel flavor! Two tablespoons of plain hummus contains about 50 calories, 2grams of protein, 1 gram of fiber, and 1 gram of sugar.
Ants on a Log
“Ants on a log” is my other go to healthy snack. It’s often thought of as a great snack for kids but it’s a great choice for adults too.
Slice celery, top it with peanut butter, dot the peanut butter with raisins.
You have a snack filled with fiber, protein, and natural sweetness. Two celery sticks with all the toppings provide about 160 calories, 5 grams of protein, 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of fiber.
2 HEALTHIEST SWEET SNACKS
Frozen Banana Bites
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, boy do I hear you. It can be hard to satisfy a sweet craving in a way that helps fuel our bodies for the day. When I think of a sweet snack, I think of chocolate.
One of my favorite sweet snacks that really satisfies during the summer is frozen banana bites.
Simply take an overripe banana, slice it into rounds, and lay it on a plate covered with wax paper.
In a small dish melt a ¼ cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips (or whatever style chocolate you prefer). You can melt the chocolate over a double boiler until shiny and creamy.
You can also melt in the microwave but go slowly only about 10 seconds at a time in between stirring, so it doesn’t burn.
When your chocolate is melted, dip or drizzle chocolate onto your bananas, and pop them in the freezer. Once the chocolate sets you can enjoy and indulge.
You can also try topping the bananas with peanut butter for added protein. About five banana rounds provide about 193 calories, 2.7gram protein (without peanut butter), 3.5g of fiber, and 23g of sugar (keep in mind a large portion of that sugar is naturally occurring from the banana).
Frozen Fruit Bar
Another great sweet snack is a frozen fruit bar.
You can make them yourself by pureeing fruit, adding yogurt, granola, or other fun layers and freezing it into paper cups with wooden craft sticks. You can also find them in most grocers’ freezers. I love the fruit and veggie frozen fruit bars.
They contain about 45 calories per bar, 1 gram of fiber, and 9 grams of sugar.
3 HEALTHIEST SNACKS FOR WORK
If you’re snacking at work you might look for something to keep in your drawer or something you can chew quietly while attending a zoom meeting.
For a quiet snack, try plain Greek yogurt.
Try adding your own jam or honey to add sweetness in moderation. 7oz of plain, low fat, Greek yogurt provides 146 calories, nearly 20 grams of protein, 0 gram fiber, and 0 grams added sugar. (https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170903/nutrients) You can even top it with granola for added fiber and crunch, just be sure you’re on mute first.
Another great at work snack is string cheese.
Keeping a string cheese in a lunch bag with an ice pack or in a refrigerator is a great way to have a satisfying snack within easy reach. Simply peel, eat, and off you go to another meeting.
Pair it with an apple or baby carrots for fiber and even more satiety! One mozzarella string cheese contains about 80 calories, 7 grams of protein, 0 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of fiber.
Rice cakes are another great snack you can keep in your desk drawer and change the flavor every time you eat them.
Opting for a plain rice cake, you can top it with peanut butter, guacamole, hummus, or even yogurt.
Changing your toppings will change the nutrients you receive. Peanut butter will bump up protein, guacamole will help you get more healthy fats, hummus will add protein and fiber, and yogurt can add calcium, protein, and probiotics.
You can even top them further with fruit and veggies! The options are endless! Two plain rice cakes provide about 70 calories, 1.4 grams of protein, .7 grams of fiber, and less than 1 gram of sugar. (https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170250/nutrients)
Healthiest Snacks Recap
All of these snacks are great starting points to healthy snacking.
As a snack, as opposed to a meal, they may not contain all of the food groups, but they do provide lots of nutrients in a quick, easy, and filling way.
Blending protein rich and fiber rich foods together is the key to successful, satisfying snacks.
Examples of this nutrient combo include apples and peanut butter or cheese and whole grain crackers.
You’ll also want to keep an eye on the sugar. Keep in mind that one teaspoon of sugar is equal to 4 grams.
Try to keep added sugar snacks below 6 grams per 100 calories. Mix and match different snack foods, try your own snack recipes, and change up where you eat them.
After all, for many of us work and home are intertwined like never before. Happy Snacking!