Have you ever been so hungry you morphed into an evil witch? Rather than cautious, the driver ahead of you seems irritating-tortoise-like slow. No—criminal. And if she doesn’t get her act together soon, you might provide a subtle NUDGE. Or worse…
Don’t worry. If you answered ‘yes,’ you’re not alone. More likely, you’re normal. Healthy snack habits can not only prevent mood mayhem, but help keep our brains sharp and energy high between meals. Choosing mostly whole foods, like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, also boosts our overall nutrient intake and physical health. (Sign me up, right???) Whether you’re a veteran healthy eater or taking initial baby steps, exploring a variety of nutritious snacks can go a long way toward fulfilling your physical and emotional appetites.
Here are some of my favorites:
- Yogurt and berry parfait
- Fresh fruit and/or veggie smoothies
- Air-popped popcorn, seasoned with natural herbs
- Whole grain pita chips with hummus
- Fresh fruit salad with yogurt or nuts
- Mixed nuts—roasted or raw
- Whole grain toast topped with almond butter and banana slices
- Leftover whole grain/veggie pizza
- Yogurt, topped with granola, ground flaxseeds or trail mix
- Mini-portion of veggie chili or lentil soup
- Snap-peas and carrot sticks with dip
- Fresh fruit, veggie and cheese (or tofu) plate
- Whole grain crackers topped with hummus and tomato slices
- Apple and banana slices topped with almond or peanut butter
- Natural PBJ on whole grain bread, English muffin or tortilla
- Kale chips with salsa or hummus
- Oatmeal raisin cookie served with low-fat milk (any variety)
- Oatmeal made with un-sweetened cocoa, cinnamon, raisins and a touch of stevia or pure maple syrup
Baked sweet potato “fries”: Slice a sweet potato into rounds or wedges. Place on a pan, coated with olive oil spray. Top with spray and desired seasoning, then bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes, or until golden brown.
Cucumber boats: Slice a cucumber lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Fill each “boat” with healthy tuna or chicken salad.
Kale smoothie: Combine 8 oz milk of choice, 1 banana, 1 cup chopped kale, 1 tbsp ground flaxseed, 1/2 cup fresh or frozen berries and a tsp of pure maple syrup in a blender. Blend until smooth, then serve over ice.
Love cooking? Try these tasty, nutritious recipes:
MayoClinic.com: Muesli Breakfast Bars
EatBetterAmerica: Whole Grain Snack Mix
Mary Elizabeth Cohen: Tortilla Wrap Chicken Salad
EatingWell magazine: Quick and Healthy Smoothie Recipes and Tips
Sally’s Baking Addiction: Apricot Pecan Granola Bars (Vegan)
And remember—your snack choices need not always be healthy. To prevent blood sugar imbalances associated with sugary and refined grain products, like candy, pretzels and enriched bagels, pair them with protein or fiber-rich foods. In either case, moderation and pleasure are important ingredients of all diets, IMHO.
Do you consider yourself a healthy snacker? What’s your favorite? Any tips or challenges to share? I love hearing from you.