A finely-tuned machine such as yourself can’t run on empty. But sometimes there are more than a few miles or minutes between you and the next meal. Finding a great-tasting, guilt-free snack doesn’t mean raiding the junk food aisle or settling for a bag of baby carrots.
We talked to Matt Dengler, Registered Dietician at RxRD Nutrition, to pick foods that are healthy, delicious, and satisfying. Of course, as with all good things, moderation counts! With that in mind, here are some snacks that taste great and you’ll feel good about eating!
It’s not just for Taco Tuesday. “Avocados are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and can be a great snack on top of a rice cake or with healthier chip options,” says Dengler. Here’s the catch: 1 serving is ⅓ of an avocado. With that in mind, load the yummy green goddess with the other fresh ingredients that make guac so great: tomatoes, onion, lime juice, cilantro, and a touch of garlic and salt.
And instead of chips, spread it on a rice cake or healthy chip like Siete or Late July, says Dengler. Corn chips are great, but look out for additives like sugars, salt, and flavor enhancers, and added inflammatory oils like canola, sunflower, or safflower. Choose whole grain chips over multi-grain and check the label for serving size.
“Nearly all beans and legumes will be healthy filled with nutrients and fiber,” says Dengler. They are a good source of protein, too. “Mash up some black beans with cumin and sea salt to make a delicious bean dip you can enjoy with sliced veggies or whole-grain tortilla chips.” Add some of your delicious guac on top and you’ve got a layered dip for any day of the week!
Other popular options: Throw garbanzo beans on a salad. Use lentils in a stew. Serve black beans or navy beans on rice. Pinto beans make great homemade refried beans. Eat soybeans…. in anything. Literally anything. Beans are linked to lower blood sugar, better cardiac health, and reduced cancer rates.
Pro tip: Canned beans are ready to go, but buy ones with no added salt and rinse them with water before using.
Store-bought granolas can be loaded with hidden sugars and additives, but making your own is a satisfying and healthy option! Throw together rolled oats, honey, dried fruit – like raisins, cranberries, blueberries, or other favorites — nuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds… just about anything as long as it’s not full of sugar. Sprinkle with cinnamon, and place on a baking sheet at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes. It’ll stay fresh for a few weeks stored in the pantry, but it probably won’t last that long.
Eggs are full of protein and can be prepared a number of ways depending on your mood. “We must forget the notion that eggs are linked to higher cholesterol,” says Dengler. “They are filled with healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. Most people can safely consume 1-3 boiled eggs per day without any repercussions.” But don’t overdo it, Rocky — too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.
If you prefer scrambled or fried, take it easy on the oils and salt. For a quick work-ahead snack or on-the-go breakfast, Dengler suggests “egg muffins.” Whip up a dozen eggs with fresh, diced veggies and pour into lined muffin tins. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, then refrigerate, and you’ve got an omelet-to-go for the rest of the week!
5. Yogurt Parfait
Yes, yogurt sounds like ‘health food,’ but you can also dress it up and make yourself believe you’re eating dessert (fro-yo anyone?) Find a high-protein, low sugar (about 6 grams of sugar per 6 oz serving) Greek yogurt, and add your own fruit and just a dot of honey for sweetness. You can even throw in a half scoop of protein for more flavor, says Dengler. Yum!
For something similar but slightly different, thaw some frozen fruit and stir them into a glass of almond milk to form a slushy, yet creamy, drink.
Short on time but still want a satisfying and guilf-free snack? Dengler also recommends some of these foods that are healthy, taste decadent, and can be whipped-up in seconds!
- Stuffed dates: Slice a couple of dates and add a small amount of nut butter inside, top with cacao nibs, coconut flakes, or 2-3 chocolate chips. Tastes like a Snickers!
- Rice cake PB&J: Take a rice cake (lightly salted or no salt), top with 1 tbsp peanut butter and 1 tbsp of low sugar jelly.
- Protein bar: Use whatever chocolate-flavored protein bar you like and microwave it for a few seconds. This will make it soft and warm like a chocolate chip cookie 🙂 Mind the calories here.
- Rice cake with cream cheese, hummus, guacamole, or your favorite spread, and top with salt & pepper, or ‘everything but the bagel’ seasoning.
- Stuffed bell peppers: Slice the mini bell peppers in half and stuff with hummus or cream cheese, top with seasoning.
- Mini Mediterranean salad: Canned chickpeas (rinsed), with chopped tomatoes, onion, and feta; drizzle with EVOO, sea salt, and pepper.
- Salmon and cucumber bites: Slice cucumbers (in circles), top with a tab of cream cheese, and a piece of smoked salmon.