Healthy Snack Choices To Satisfy Your Cravings
It’s 3pm and your tummy is rumbling. Instead of reaching for those chips or candy bar from the vending machine, try one of the snacks below to satisfy your hunger and craving. Regardless of whether you want something salty or sweet, crunchy or smooth, choosing something nutritious helps dieters lose weight, and those not interested in weight control can improve their overall health.
When choosing a snack, focus on a foods or food combinations that provide protein, fiber and little bit of healthy fat. All of these elements help you feel fuller, longer. Protein and fat also help maintain the body’s blood sugar level, especially if you are eating a snack that contains natural sugar (like fruit). Preventing insulin spikes will help limit the likelihood of the mid-afternoon or post-snack crash. Choosing healthy snack items is especially important in warding off certain metabolic disorders like diabetes.
Salty & Savory Lovers
Hummus & Veggies: An excellent source of protein and fiber, hummus is usually made of chickpeas or some other sort of white bean. Paired with chopped or sliced vegetables, like carrot sticks, celery sticks, baby tomatoes and cucumber slices, hummus becomes a filling and nutritious snack that is fairly portable. Hummus also comes in a variety of flavors now; or if you prefer to DIY, hummus is very easy to make at home and you can create any combination of flavors that you prefer. If you have more of a sweet tooth, some recipes even have sweet versions of hummus—these would pair well with apple slices.
Celery & Nut Butter: An age-old, kid-friendly item, celery and peanut butter (with raisins if you want to re-create “ants on a log”) are a quick and easy snack. Celery provides a lot of crunch and fiber for a minimal calorie count; peanut butter provides protein and heart-healthy fats to help with satiety. With the variety of peanut butter and other nut butter flavors available, you could have this snack on a daily basis and not become bored.
String Cheese/Laughing Cow/Mini Babybel Cheeses: Add an extra shot of calcium into your daily intake with a cheese snack, paired with sliced fruit or vegetables or whole-grain crackers or rice cakes. High in protein and low in fat (if you choose the low-fat varieties), these cheeses are portable, savory and can pack a wallop of flavor without nearly the same caloric impact as regular cheeses.
Hard Boiled Eggs: Eggs have the highest quality source of protein available, as well as being packed full of vitamins and minerals needed by your body. Inexpensive, easy-to-get and cook and portable, hard boiled eggs are an excellent standalone snack. Add your favorite seasonings for extra flavor. Pair with veggies or whole grain crackers for a little boost of fiber.
For the Sweet Tooth
Dried Fruit and Nuts: This food combination satisfies both sweet and salty cravings. Dried fruit is an excellent source of fiber and vitamins; the nuts’ fats, protein and fiber slow the impact of the sugar from the fruit and help keep you fuller longer. Excellent sources of heart-healthy unsaturated fats, nuts are higher in calories, so keep the serving size to an ounce or smaller. Try a combo of almonds, cashews or walnuts with dried cherries, tart cranberries or dried blueberries for an extra antioxidant boost.
Sweet Potato: Easily steamed or microwaved, sweet potatoes don’t need additional seasonings to make it sweet. High in fiber and vitamin A, add a dollop of Greek yogurt for a punch of protein—and some chopped nuts for fiber and fat. Also easily customizable through a variety of toppings, sweet potatoes are a great sweet or savory snack.
Smoothie: Craving something like a milkshake? Try its healthier cousin, the smoothie (though store-made versions can be just as unhealthy and caloric as milkshakes, so you ideally you should make your own). Using frozen and fresh fruit, along with some sort of liquid—milk, almond milk, soy milk, water—and ice, smoothies are customizable and the combinations are endless. You can even sneak in foods like baby spinach (thoroughly washed!), Greek yogurt or protein powder if you are looking for an extra boost in certain nutrients.
Greek Yogurt: The wonder-food of the moment, Greek yogurt is higher in protein and lower in sugar than regular yogurts. Chock full of probiotics, calcium and vitamin D, Greek yogurt has a smooth and rich texture, even in the low-fat varieties. Add some sliced fruit to boost vitamin and fiber content. If you need a little extra sweetness, try drizzling honey over the yogurt. Greek yogurt is so versatile that you can use it to create a savory dip to go with cut-up vegetables, if you prefer salty foods.
These healthy snacks are an excellent way to sneak in more fruits and vegetables into your diet, and help tie you over until your next meal; however, as with all foods, remember that moderation is key, especially if you’re looking to watch your waistline. Try to keep your snacks to 200 calories or less as part of healthy, balanced diet.
Remember to check our LDNM Protein Treat Pack out for more delicious, crave satisfying recipes.
A massive thank you to Marcela De Vivo for contributing this article.