Snack Foods That Will Help You Power Through the Day
Healthy snack foods can give you a much-needed energy boost when you start to lag partway through the day. We came up with a few healthy snack ideas you can rely on, plus a few tips to help you pick out the best healthy snacks at the grocery store.
For many of us, snack time is when we lose control of our diets, either by overeating or by indulging in high-fat, high-calorie foods. This often happens because we allow ourselves to get too hungry and then are unable to stop ourselves from overeating, says Dee Sandquist, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association and manager of the Nutrition and Diabetes Center at Southwest Washington Medical Center in Vancouver, Washington.
Get our easy hummus recipe.
To avoid getting too hungry, Sandquist says she recommends always carrying a healthy, portable snack with you when you know you'll be out on the run. Aim for at least two food groups in each of those snacks so that you combine carbohydrates and fat/protein, which will help keep you satiated longer, she adds. Here are some of our favorite super snack food ideas:
Plain Yogurt with Blueberries
Pair plain yogurt with blueberries for a sweet treat that has a similar texture to ice cream. Yogurt is a great source of calcium and protein, and blueberries are packed with valuable antioxidants that help fight off heart disease. If fresh blueberries aren't in season, try frozen instead—they work great in cool, creamy yogurt. Or if you get bored with blueberries, substitute any other frozen fruit like cranberries or cherries. You can also try plain Greek yogurt to pack in even more protein.
Recommended Serving Size: plain low-fat yogurt, 1/2 cup, 56 calories; blueberries, 2/3 cup, 30 calories
Related: The Best High-Protein Snacks
Banana with Almond Butter
This combination will keep you satiated for a longer time than either on their own because of the combination of fiber in the banana and protein and fat in the almond butter. Bananas are also an excellent source of potassium, which helps prevent muscle cramps and is essential for normal brain function. Of course, peanut butter would be a great substitute for almond butter.
Recommended Serving Size: medium banana, 95 calories; almond butter, 1 tablespoon, 101 calories
Hummus with Pita Bread
Made from chickpeas, hummus provides protein, fiber, and carbohydrates. Spread hummus on pita bread for some added carbohydrates. Also, try putting some veggies on your bread to make a great sandwich.
Recommended Serving Size: hummus, 2 tablespoons, 83 calories; pita bread, 1 round, 195 calories
Apple with Brie Cheese
Stick to a small amount of cheese with this snack because of Brie's high saturated fat content. However, Brie does offer a good protein source. Apples have a low glycemic index, which means they keep hunger at bay longer than other fruits.
Recommended Serving Size: apple, 47 calories; Brie cheese, 2 ounces, 160 calories
Salsa with Baked Tortilla Chips
Ingredients in salsa vary greatly, but most tomato-based vegetable salsas are an excellent source of antioxidants, vitamin C, and lycopene, which helps prevent heart disease and some cancers. Avoid high-calorie fried chips by purchasing the baked varieties instead (or make your own!), and be sure to look for varieties that list zero trans fats on their nutrition labels.
Get the recipe: Chunky Homemade Salsa
Recommended Serving Size: salsa, 2 ounces, 20 calories; baked tortilla chips, 1 ounce, 120 calories
Light Microwave Popcorn
Although this is a single-food snack, Sandquist says she recommends it because of its high fiber and B vitamin content. And if you want to skip the microwave version, it's super easy to pop your own on the stovetop and pack it in a bag to take with you. Plus, who can resist the smell of popcorn?
Recommended Serving Size: 1 cup, 30 calories
4 Ingredients to Look for in Purchased Healthy Snack Foods
Fresh snacks are always great when you have the time to make them, but store-bought snacks can be healthy too, especially if you're snacking on the go. Here are a few of the ingredients to look for when you're comparing healthy snacks at the grocery store.
Beans are great for you, and we're not just talking about cooking them and serving them as a side dish. You can find crunchy snack puffs made from chickpeas, and also different varieties of roasted chickpeas made with tasty flavors like barbecue or cinnamon. Beans are high in protein, fiber, and other nutrients like magnesium, folate, potassium, and iron. Some options, such as Hippeas, can even satisfy your cravings for chips. Hippea's organic chickpea puffs come in tasty flavors like vegan white cheddar, sriracha, and barbecue, so you'll probably find they are a healthy swap for your favorite chips.
Buy It: Hippeas Variety Pack, $18.99
Sorghum is a gluten-free whole grain and a great source of protein, fiber, and antioxidants. You can pop the kernels just like popcorn for a movie night snack with more nutrients, but you can also find it used in some snacks like pretzels in place of wheat. Quinn is one company making sorghum pretzels, and they're producing a lot of tasty variations on plain pretzels, such as peanut butter-filled and deli-style sticks.
Whole Fruits and Veggies
Packing an apple or carrot sticks for your afternoon snack is a great way to add more produce to your day, but it's not the only way. Now, there's a new group of packaged snacks made with whole fruits and veggies hitting the supermarket. Some options, like Bare Snacks, are turning produce like beets, apples, bananas, and sweet potatoes into crispy chips by seasoning and baking them. GAEA is another company making snacks with whole fruits and veggies, with cauliflower, carrot, and gherkin options. They're TSA compliant, too, so you can take them just about anywhere. New snack bars, like Phyter bars, are also hitting shelves. They're made with whole foods and don't have any preservatives, so they're stored in the refrigerated section to keep fresh. Don't skip the cold cases the next time you're looking for healthy snacks!
A handful of almonds is a classic desk snack, but sometimes we could use a little variety. That's where new snacks made with nuts and nut flours come in. Some companies like Simple Mills and Blue Diamond are making crackers (and even other baked goods) with almond flour. Nuts have a good amount of protein and magnesium along with lots of good fats, so grinding them into flour is an easy way to make popular snacks healthier.