LIVING: 10 Easy & Healthy Snacks
I’ll be honest, I’m really good at putting together a healthy meal, and I’m pretty decent at sticking to eating healthy at meal times. But me and snacking? Well, we’ve been friends forever, but it hasn't always been a healthy relationship.
First of all, let me just say I know myself and my eating habits. I’m what my family affectionally (I think) calls a grazer. I’m like a cow (okay, so it might not be as affectionate as I thought): I prefer to slowly nibble around and graze all day rather than eat big meals with long spaces of time in between.
So before we get into my top 10 easy, healthy snacks, let’s get some basic guidelines and suggestions out of the way. Just like I know I am a grazer, I want you to think about what type of eater you are. Do you prefer big meals? Are you one of the lucky few who truly only eats when they’re hungry? Do you eat mostly out of boredom?
It’s important to know your eating habits so that you can choose snacks and snack-times that best satisfy your natural tendencies and preferences. That’s rule #1 of snacking.
Rule #2 is to follow these guidelines when trying to choose a healthy snack. Whether you’re in a gas station mid-road trip or your own pantry mid-afternoon, stick to these basic principles when deciding whether or not your snack choice is healthy or better left on the shelf:
1. Prioritize protein.
2. Consider carbs.
3. Forgo fats.
What that means is that your number 1 snack priority should be choosing a source of mostly protein. Protein is going to keep you full and satisfied longer, and it’s also going to be synthesized and used much differently than carbohydrates and fats in your body. If high protein must be sacrificed…
Consider carbs. This means acknowledge and intentionally choose them. Not avoid them. Not cut them out. Consider them. You definitely want a source of carbs in your snack, because one of the reasons our body is asking for a snack in the first place is for energy! Good, slow-digesting carbohydrates are exactly that: fuel. If your snack is purely carbohydrates, try to add a source of protein with it.
Forgo fats is the final guideline not because you should be eating a low-fat diet, but because you’re likely getting enough fats in your other meals that a snack shouldn’t be a significant source of them for you. Again, this is in no way a recommendation to go low-fat or cut fats out, because, in fact, fats aid in the breakdown and benefits we reap from other nutrients. They’re like helpers, so if we eliminate them completely, other nutrients are being sacrificed as well. I only say forgo fats as a snack-choice guideline because we really shouldn’t be reaching for strictly fat-dense foods when it’s snack time. If your snack has some fat in it, a-okay, it simply shouldn’t be the primary macronutrient.
let’s get into my list of 10 Easy, Healthy Snacks (that I actually eat.) Pay attention to how each snack considers the 3 aspects of rule #2. Because these are things I actually eat, they also follow rule #1 in that they are things that genuinely satisfy my natural food tendencies and preferences.
In no particular order other than the one they came to me in, here are my 10 go-to healthy snacks as of late:
1. Baked apple slices + cinnamon
Take a whole apple and thinly slice it however you want. I usually slice it into the circles it naturally forms, then slice those circles in half to make them more bite-sized. Sprinkle some cinnamon on top and pop 'em in a toaster oven or pre-heated real oven until the edges turn brown!
*Note: not a significant source of protein, but not every snack HAS to have protein in it! It's simply the top consideration.
2. Plain greek yogurt + Walden Farms
I buy a large tub of plain, fat-free greek yogurt, scoop 1 serving into a bowl, then mix in either Walden Farms Maple Syrup or Walden Farms Chocolate Sauce. Both are calorie free and serve simply as a sweetener because I find plain greek yogurt to be much too tart. This is super high protein & delish!
3. 1/2 baked pear + cinnamon/honey
Slice a pear in half, sprinkle some cinnamon and/or honey on top, and bake for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
4. Tuna salad
Here's my super weird but super easy and tasty tuna salad recipe: 1 can Starkist Chunk Light Tuna in Water with relish, salt & pepper, and either Dijon Mustard or Trader Joes Garlic Aioli Mustard mixed in. All proportions are just to taste, so mix it in and taste it, then mix more if you want!
5. Quest bars
The easiest and most balanced snack on this list. My favorite flavors are: blueberry muffin, oatmeal cookie, cookies n cream, smores & banana nut bread. Pro tip: microwave for 8 seconds (not 5, not 10!) and pretend you're eating dessert.
6. Hummus + cucumber/crackers
Any Sabra hummus has my heart, and I either slice cucumbers and dip those in it or use some crackers I have. My favorite hummus crackers are either pita chips or the "everything" flavored pretzel chips.
Great gas station snack! I get turkey or chicken jerky only because I don't eat red meat, but any meat like this is going to be a great low-cal source of protein.
8. String cheese
These are both of the brands/kinds I have bought and loved. Since they are low-cal, low-fat and pretty decent on protein, you can usually get away with having 2!
9. Cherry tomatoes + balsamic w/ drop of olive oil
Slice cherry tomatoes in half and drizzle with balsamic vinegar + a little olive oil. Add salt & pepper, basil, oregano or other seasonings if you want. If I have time, I like to sauté the tomatoes a little in a skillet, and sometimes I'll add a stick of string cheese to this, too! (Either cut or just eaten on the side)
10. Dark chocolate
Because I have an insatiable sweet tooth, I always have chocolate on hand. Lately I've been buying the super dark chocolate + cacao bars from Trader Joes and having a square after dinner or to satisfy my mid-afternoon sweet craving. I also like to pop a square in the microwave (in a bowl of course) for 10 or so seconds and eat it that way, too :)
Let me know how these ideas work for you if you decide to try them, and feel free to share your healthy go-to snack ideas with me, too! The more we have in our snack-arsenals, the better!