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What are Healthy Snacks?
A healthy snack is a small portion of food, or a nutritious drink, that does not generally exceed 200 calories. For most adults and children, it is recommended that we consume three meals and two snacks per day, not exceeding a healthy caloric intake. Some people prefer a snack between breakfast and lunch, and a snack between lunch and dinner. Others prefer to skip one daytime snack in favor of an after-dinner snack. Below we will discuss healthy snacks for adults and for children, along with some healthy snack recipes.
Healthy Snacks for Adults - 25 Ideas
- Kale Chips: Yes, that's right... you can turn leafy green kale into a chip worth snacking on. Simply tear your kale leaves into large pieces and lightly spritz them with olive oil. Place on a baking sheet and slide it into a 350 degree oven until crisp. While they are still warm, season lightly with kosher salt.
- Whole Wheat Pretzels: A serving of whole wheat pretzels is even more delicious when dipped in spicy brown mustard or a small serving of peanut butter.
- Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas: Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) are great roasted! Drain a can of chickpeas and pat them dry. Place them onto a baking sheet and spritz with olive oil. Season them however you wish (ideas: salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, parmesan cheese), and roast until crispy.
- Hummus and Vegetables: Two tablespoons of hummus serves as a dip for a variety of cut up fresh vegetables, such as carrots, celery, tomato, cucumber, red or green pepper, cauliflower, broccoli, and green beans.
- Pistachios and String Cheese: Count out 40 pistachios and eat them with a piece of light string cheese for a protein-filled snack.
- Deluxe Pickle Spears: Wrap dill pickle spears in low-fat deli ham, then dip into your favorite mustard.
- Yogurt Ranch Dip: Mix 1/2 cup of plain Greek yogurt with some dry ranch dressing mix, to taste. Dip your favorite raw vegetables. You can also use this dip as a healthy salad dressing by thinning it out with skim milk to your desired consistency.
- Apple and Peanut Butter: Core and slice an apple, then top the slices with one tablespoon of peanut butter.
- Parmesan Black Pepper Popcorn: While it is still warm, top air-popped popcorn with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese and black pepper. Toss to combine.
- Edamame: Boil edamame in lightly salted water according to package directions. Enjoy 1/2 cup of this protein-rich snack.
- Yogurt Parfait: Layer plain, vanilla, or honey Greek yogurt with sprinkles of low-fat granola and cut up fresh fruit in a pretty glass.
- Bagel Pizza: Spread 1/2 of a toasted whole wheat bagel with 1-2 tablespoons jarred marinara sauce, then sprinkle with one ounce mozzarella cheese. Microwave for 15-20 seconds.
- The Light Elvis: Toast one slice of whole wheat bread. Spread with one tablespoon peanut butter and top with 1/2 of a banana, sliced. Sprinkle with cinnamon if you wish.
- Not-So-Deviled Eggs: Boil, peel and halve eggs as you normally would for deviled eggs. Scoop the yolks into a bowl. To this bowl add a squeeze of yellow mustard, a small shot of vinegar, non-fat plain Greek yogurt, a small scoop of sweet relish, salt, and pepper to taste. Mash. Spoon mixture back into egg white halves.
- Veggie Omelet: Spray a small saute pan with non-stick. Lightly cook your choice of cut up veggies (asparagus, tomato, onion, spinach, mushroom, pepper) until they are tender-crisp. Remove from pan and set aside. Spray pan again with non-stick, and pour in one egg that has been thoroughly mixed and seasoned lightly with salt and pepper. When your egg is nearly cooked, fold your veggies in and serve.
- Tuna in Tomato: Make tuna salad using water-packed tuna, and substitute plain non-fat Greek yogurt for the mayonnaise and/or oil you usually use. Serve tuna salad in hollowed-out cherry or roma tomatoes.
- Avocado Cup: Halve an avocado and remove the pit. Season lightly with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Fill the center of the avocado with corn salsa and/or black bean salsa.
- Cheese and Celery: Spread one or two Laughing Cow cheese wedges onto cut up celery.
- Cottage Cheese and Fruit: One serving of low-fat cottage cheese topped with cut up fresh fruit. Pineapples and strawberries make a great combination.
- Melon and Prosciutto: Slice 1/4 of a cantaloupe into wedges, and wrap in thin strips of prosciutto. Secure with a toothpick.
- Wheaty Ricotta Munchers: Top half a serving of Wheat Thins or Triscuits with half a serving of part-skim ricotta cheese. Top the cracker snacks with a little salt and pepper, and the cut up fresh vegetables of your choice (tomatoes, cucumber, red or green pepper).
- Chocolate Banana: Cut a banana in half so you have two 3-inch pieces. Insert popsicle sticks into the cut end of the banana pieces. Lightly coat the bananas in Hershey's chocolate syrup, then place on a wax paper or parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Freeze until firm, then enjoy.
- Oatmeal and Blueberries: Cook one package plain or low-sugar instant oatmeal according to package directions. Top with 1/4 cup fresh blueberries.
- Pear and Almonds: Eat 1/2 serving of almonds with one sliced up pear.
- Baked Tortilla Chips and Salsa: One serving of your favorite baked tortilla chips, dipped in your favorite salsa. Cut the serving size of the chips in half, and add a piece of low-fat string cheese for more protein in your snack.
Healthy Snacks for Kids - 10 Ideas
- Ants on a Log: Celery pieces filled with almond butter, then topped with raisins or dried cranberries. You can cut the calories in the almond butter by whipping equal parts almond butter and vanilla yogurt.
- Chocolate Oranges: Orange sections dipped in a little dish of Hershey's chocolate syrup.
- Banana Grahams: Whole graham crackers are broken into four pieces, then topped with a light coating of Nutella, and sliced bananas.
- Fruit and Yogurt: Cut up fresh fruit and dip in honey Greek yogurt.
- Cheerios and Milk: Plain Cheerios topped with milk. Cheerios are lower in sugar than many cereals marketed toward children.
- Applesauce Popsicles: Buy unsweetened applesauce, stir in some ground cinnamon, then freeze into ice pops.
- String Cheese and Crackers: Pair string cheese with whole wheat crackers. Add a small amount of honey mustard to the plate for dipping.
- Apple with Almond Butter: Core and slice an apple, then spread slices with a small amount of almond butter.
- Grape Tomatoes and Cheddar Cheese: Cut mild cheddar cheese into 1/2-inch cubes and serve with grape tomatoes.
- Fruit Smoothie: Blend 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt, 1/4 banana, 2 strawberries, 1/4 cup orange juice, 1 tbsp honey, and 2 ice cubes in a blender until smooth. If the mixture is too thick, thin with more orange juice.
Choosing Healthy Snacks at Fast Food Restaurants
Let's face it... some days we just do not have time in the morning to pack wholesome foods to nosh on later. When this happens, we end up finding food from some not-so-ideal places, such as fast food restaurants. Below are the best choices for snacking at a fast food restaurant if you find yourself in that situation:
- McDonald's Fruit 'N Yogurt Parfait: 150 calories, 2 g fat
- McDonald's Honey Mustard Snack Wrap, grilled: 250 calories, 8 g fat
- Wendy's Small Chili, 180 calories, 5 g fat
- Wendy's Grilled Chicken Go Wrap, 260 calories, 10 g fat
- Burger King's Whopper Jr., no mayo, 260 calories, 10 g fat
- Taco Bell's Fresco Chicken Soft Taco, 150 calories, 3.5 g fat
- Taco Bell's Fresco Grilled Steak Soft Taco, 160 calories, 4.5 g fat
- Arby's Jr. Roast Beef (value menu), 210 calories, 8 g fat
- Arby's Jr. Ham & Cheddar Melt (value menu), 210 calories, 6 g fat
Why Snacks are Important
Healthy snacks are an important part of our daily diets. When we snack between meals, it helps to keep blood sugar stable. It also ensures that we won't be quite so hungry at the next mealtime, which can keep us from overeating. Also, if you plan out healthy snacks at the beginning of your day, it will likely keep you from choosing an unhealthy, calorie-laden vending machine snack. When a person's blood sugar plummets from going too long between meals, that person is far more likely to choose any snack that is available, which can often mean something not very healthy.
Being Snack-Ready - 5 Tips
- Slice and Dice: Pick a non-busy day or time once per week to wash, cut up, and store fresh fruits and vegetables into individual serving sizes.
- Store Smart: Go to your local discount store and purchase a bunch of disposable plastic containers with lids, in a variety of sizes. This will ensure you always have a dish to carry snacks in. Also purchase zip-top baggies for storage and transportation of snacks.
- Buy Smart: Yes, those individual serving sized containers of yogurt and cottage cheese are more expensive than the big economy size. But they are also more convenient. If you are likely to pass over the yogurt and cottage cheese in your refrigerator because you don't want to put it into a smaller to-go container... just buy the individual containers to begin with.
- Pack Up at Night: Mornings are hectic, without a doubt. If you leave the important task of packing your healthy snacks until you are rushing around in the morning, you may just decide to leave home without them. Instead, between dinner and bedtime, carve out 10 minutes to pack your snacks up for the next day. You'll be glad you did.
- Keep a Work Stash: If you have appropriate storage at work (a refrigerator, or a desk drawer for non-perishables), it is handy to keep some fruit, veggies, whole wheat crackers, yogurt, or other snacks right at the office. This will help you avoid the dreaded vending machine.
You Can Do This!
By shopping smart, being prepared, and planning ahead--you too can enjoy healthy snacks for healthy nutrition and living.