Being a student, or having a full time job (that includes stay at home moms!) can often mean a significant compromise in our eating habits, particularly our snacking habits…I know I become a sporadic grazer! If you’re anything like me, you love to snack while in lecture, while studying or reading a book, watching TV, replying to emails, or while doing just about anything else. Having healthy snacks in between your main meals does in fact help keep your metabolism consistent- which is a good thing for weight loss, but more importantly for weight maintenance. The problem is, snacking is a double edge sword. Snack right and you reap benefits, snack wrong on the other hand…and you definitely suffer the consequences, in inches- and inches don’t lie!
When you start munching on the wrong munchies, it’s time to pause and re-evaluate your diet!
I know it takes great brainpower to come up with different snacking idea’s each and every day. I also know how much effort it to prepare these snacks. Like I tell every one of my consults, no pain no gain! Snacking healthy does require commitment, and here are 12 easy ideas to get you started!
Tip: If you have children keep in mind that good food role-modeling is an important determinant of how a child’s eating habits and health will develop as they grow. Children love to snack, especially when they are going through growth spurts. Helping them develop healthy snacking habits from a young age by snacking healthy yourself is an important step to helping them build healthy lifelong eating habits.
1. Baby carrots and Dip
Calories: 35 calories/10 baby carrots, 70 calories/tbsp Ranch
Simple enough? I think so! Carrots are extremely low in calories and ranch is very reasonable calorie wise. If you want to cut more calories, buy the low fat ranch. Carrots are an excellent source of beta-carotene, a precursor for vitamin A, which promotes healthy glowing skin, aids in cancer prevention, is an important contributor to good vision…and I could go on all day. Crunch away!
2. Apples/celery and peanut butter
Calories: 65 calories/apple, 5 calories/stick, 180 calories/2tbsp. Peanut Butter
One apple will contribute some vitamin C and dietary fiber to your diet. Celery on the other hand is way more impressive in my opinion; Did you know you expend more energy digesting celery than you gain eating it? This effectively makes celery negative calories. Don’t trip over yourself now as you run off to the grocery store to stalk up! (pun intended). Celery is also a source of Vitamin K, and as a bonus it is SUPER fun to fill up the middle cavity of celery sticks with peanut butter. Peanut butter is a different story when it comes to calories but it is jam packed with goodness. A whopping 12g of hearty unsaturated fats, 8 g of protein and a good amount of vitamin B6 and Magnesium. Now that’s what we nutritionists like to call nutrient-dense calories.
3. Crackers and cheese with grapes
Calories: 113 calories/1.5oz cheese, 60 calories/cup grapes
This is the kind of snack that most of us eat in our childhood. One serving of cheddar cheese (1.5 oz slice the size of your middle and index fingers together) equals around 113 calories of saturated fats, unsaturated fats and calcium. Crackers on the other hand can differ depending on type so make sure to check the box before you take a generous helping. Whole wheat/whole grain are definitely a more nutrient dense option and they can provide you with a few extra grams of fiber if you choose carefully! As for grapes they are about 60 calories/cup and oh so fun to eat. With numbers that low, make it 2 cups. Bring on the grapes.
4. Yogurt and all bran buds with strawberries
Calories: 150 calories/cup low fat yogurt, 80 calories/0.33 cup all bran buds, 25 calories/0.5 cup strawberries
The snack industry seems to be all about yogurt these days. Probiotics are definitely the benefit of snacking on yogurt, they provide healthy gut flora and promote regularity. Aside from that, yogurt will provide you with calcium, vitamin D, healthy fats and even protein (12 g/cup); for all the goodness it contains, these calories are well worth it. All-Bran buds, what some would call ‘bird food’, are actually an extremely high source of dietary fiber, the highest I’ve seen in a food BY FAR! 1/3 cup will provide you with half your required intake of fiber for the day. I bet you those numbers are going to make you reconsider? No? Just give it a try. Topping your yogurt and all bran buds with strawberries will add a splash of color, make for a pretty instagram worthy photo and of course add a little vitamin C and antioxidents to the mix.
5. Pretzels and Labne
Calories: 125 calories/20 pretzels, 60 calories/2tbsp. labne
Pretzels are one of those snacks that nobody seems to ever crave, but once you put a bowl out everyone enjoys them. They do tend to be a better snacking option since they are baked and not fried. Calories can differ depending on the brand so make sure to check the bag. Pretzels can contribute some B-vitamins, Iron and fiber to your diet, but overall their best feature is that they are generally fat-free. Labne is a delicious dipping option, it is high in calcium and vitamin D, so the calories can be guilt free.
6. Cucumbers, zaatar and labne
Calories: 8 calories/0.5 cup cucumbers, 60 calories/2tbsp. labne, 10 calories/tbsp. zaatar
Cucumbers are juicy, fresh and who doesn’t love them? Did I mention the calorie count is practically negligent and they are made up of 95% water? If you are like me and just aren’t a ‘water person’, try eating vegetables that will hydrate you instead! Again, dip your cucumbers into labne and for that extra zing, roll it into dry zaatar…trust me, you won’t regret packing this snack to school.
7. shredded carrots with lemon juice
Calories: 45 calories/1 cup shredded carrots, 3 calories/tbsp lemon juice
I think at this point I already discussed how absolutely wonderful carrots are for the soul…and health! Grate them (I use my food processor to do this), squeeze some lemon juice on top, and garnish them with a dash of cumin. Voila! Get this, 1 cup of shredded carrots is only 45 calories. Take that in. The lemon juice calories are not even worth counting, but the vitamin C is! Each tablespoon of lemon juice will also give you around 15% of your daily requirement for vitamin C.
8. Dried fruits and nuts eaten with plain yogurt on the side
Calories: 150 calories/cup low fat yogurt, 200 calories/0.33 cup whole almonds or whole walnuts
Dried fruits are an excellent source of fiber, depending on the type, they can provide a few grams for just a small handful. Nuts, are also a great addition to any diet, they are also high in fiber, high in unsaturated fats including omega 3’s, high in Vitamin E and depending on the kind they can be high in minerals such as calcium (Almonds) or Magnesium (Almonds and Walnuts). That said, there is some bad news when it comes to eating nuts, they are hefty in their calorie count so don’t go overboard here. A nice handful of two of mixed nuts and dried fruit should do for the day. Need I talk about the goodness of yogurt again?
9. Fresh salted Snow peas
Calories: 100 calories/cup
As simple as that. 1 cup of these gives you about 100 calories as well as some vitamin A, C, K, protein and B vitamins. Add a dash of salt and crunch on these for a healthy alternative.
10. Baba ghanouj and baked pita chips
Calories: 200 calories/0.5 cup baba ghanouj
I just love Baba Ghanouj! The best part is, the canned version is surprisingly good making this snack literally as easy as 1-2-3. Baba Ghanouj will give you jam packed goodness of Manganese, Folate, Vitamin K and B vitamins from the eggplant and of course vitamin E from any the sesame seed oil used. I make my own baked pita chips too to spare myself the excess sodium and fat found in store bought ones! Here is the 411- Simply brush some pita with a tiny bit of olive oil and put it in the counter top grill for a minute or two. While you’re waiting, open the can of Baba Ghanouj and pour it into a plate. Dip and eat, and thank me later.
11. Peppers and Hummus
Calories: 30 calories/cup peppers
The more I write, the more I can’t decide which snack is my favorite. Most people wouldn’t think to pair hummus with peppers, when it is in fact delicious, and nutritious! Plus, peppers are just beautiful to look at. As for hummus, see our post on 10 reasons to eat more chickpeas to learn about just how nutritious they are.
12. Cherry tomatoes and feta cheese
Calories: 30 calories/cup tomatoes, 100 calories/0.25 cup feta cheese, 10 calories/tbsp. zaatar
Last but most definitely not least, cherry tomaties, feta cheese, and a sprinkle of oregano or mint…or both! This is a flavorful combination, it is pretty to look at and yes, it is nutritious. Tomatoes contain cancer fighting compounds called Lycopene. Cheeses tend to be higher in calories, but to be fair, this snack needs only a small mount of feta cheese to provide the necessary flavor! Feta cheese will also add calcium and vitamin D to your diet.