Why is it that whenever we have the munchies, we head straight to the pantry or vending machine for chips, cookies, and other processed finger foods? We think this is because these foods are readily available and satisfy our immediate cravings for comfort, salt, and/or sweets. Make a commitment to skipping that vending machine and instead stocking your pantry and fridge with these tasty, on-the-go, nutritious snacks that won’t make you break your commitment to good health.
All you really need is a good, meaningful 100 calories to get you to your next meal. As we’ve said before, we don’t advocate that you tally your caloric intake, but we do recommend that when snacking you:
1. Choose a variety of snacks and select foods from different food groups.
2. Snack only when you are hungry.
3. Be mindful of how much food you really need to feel satisfied so you can make adjustments as you go.
4. Eat snacks well ahead of a meal, at least 2-3 hours.
5. Eat snack size portions, which we have noted below.
6. Be mindful of how full your calories are of nutrients (versus empty calories made from refined sugars and grains).
7. Go easy on high fat and sugar snacks. These foods are from top of the food guide pyramid.
8. Plan ahead and bring snacks with you because otherwise you might just be reaching for those high in calorie and fat vending machine snacks.
9. Drink water, water, water, throughout the day. Not only is it good for you, it keeps you feeling fuller, longer throughout the day.
10. When you are snacking be sure you are only eating and doing nothing else. If you snack while studying or watching TV it usually means you will eat more than you intended!
Now that you have heard our snacking tips, read below for our top 10 snack-ilicious faves!
1. No Nuts: Dried Fava Beans
For those with nut or gluten allergies, or for anyone else looking for an alternative to the basic handful of nuts, try fava beans roasted and dried. They’re amazing for your nervous system and cellular function and are packed with folate, fiber, and iron. If you don’t want to prepare them yourself, try Simply Beans’ Fabz fava beans with sea salt. (If you want to roast your own fava beans, simply boil fresh fava beans in water for 2–30 minutes (until tender). Drain the beans and toss them in olive oil (to lightly coat) and sea salt and pepper. Spread them, in a single layer, onto a baking sheet and roast at about 375°F for about 25 minutes, but stir every 10 minutes to ensure even cooking. )
2. Or, Go Nuts
There really is no better snack nut, in our opinion, than almonds. They are loaded with protein and healthy fat, and studies have shown that eating them in moderation helps support heart health and prevent diabetes. If almonds just aren’t your thing, try walnuts, Brazil nuts, or cashews. Or dress up your nuts with a teaspoon of dried cranberries. Make your own to-go bags by pre-measuring and storing in little snack bags.
3. Better Bitter Chocolate
If you can’t escape that sweet craving, try dark chocolate, which is a powerful source of antioxidants, can improve blood flow and lower blood pressure, raises good cholesterol and lowers the bad, and may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Plus, it’s just plain yummy. Aim for a version with 75 to 80 percent cacao.
4. Apples and Peanut Butter
Peanut butter sometimes just hits the spot. And if you buy the natural organic kind (without trans fats, palm oil, and refined sugar), it’s a healthy snack too. Pair a couple teaspoons with slices of apple for a magic combo of fiber, protein, and fat.
Edamame, or boiled soybeans, are filled with protein and fiber, not to mention they are a delicious hot or cold snack all by themselves. Have a ½ cup shelled or 1 cup still in the pod. Here’s a little secret: If you eat them out of the shell it will make the satisfying experience last much longer.
6. Strawberries with Whipped “Cream”
Pair 1 cup of fiber- and phytonutrient-rich strawberries with 2 tablespoons of homemade whipped coconut cream for a nutritious indulgence.
7. You Can Count on Cantaloupe
Half a cantaloupe, our personal favorite of the melons, is not only filling (half of a melon is a whole lot of melon!), but it’s also loaded with a wide variety of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. No empty calories here!
8. Calling All Egg Lovers!
There’s nothing much heartier (or easier) than a protein-packed egg for a snack. We love pairing them with fiber-full asparagus. Pair 10 spears (cooked or raw) with a hard-boiled egg and enjoy!
9. Baby Carrots and Edamame “Hummus”
Pair 2 teaspoons of hummus with 1 cup celery sticks or 1 large carrot —or other crudité—and you’ve just packed in a ton of veggie power.
10. Raspberries and Yogurt
Take 1 cup of yummy raspberries and dip in a mixture of 2 tablespoons of non-dairy yogurt and a sprinkle of raw, organic honey and you’ve got a sweet treat to get you to your next meal.
See all our rules for snacking in our book, The Soup Cleanse, now available on Amazon.com and Target.com