It is often so easy and convenient to reach for that sugar- or fat-filled snack when those pesky hunger pangs strike, but it does not have to be that way as long as you are willing to swap out unhealthy food choices with more nutritious snacks to eat between meals. Healthy snacking is not only important when you are on a diet or trying to maintain a certain weight, but it also plays a key role in providing your body with the essential nutrients required to function at your best. So if you are new to healthy snacking (like myself) or looking for healthy snack ideas, look no further than these nutritiously-filling snacks to eat between meals.
1. Fruits and Vegetables
When it comes to easy and readily available healthy snacks, you can’t go wrong with a fruit or vegetable. Fruits and vegetables are perfect snacks to eat between meals especially when you do not have the time to prepare snacks in advance. They are packed with nutrients and fiber that will keep you fuller longer and give you the right kind of energy boost — you know the kind that does not leave you feeling crappy and full of guilt! Some good fruits and vegetable choices are an apple, banana, orange, carrots, or celery sticks. Really, the choices are endless!
2. Natural Nut Butters
Does the idea of just eating a fruit or vegetable not seem sufficient enough to sustain you between meals? Well, how about pairing those tasty fruits and veggies with some delicious nut butter. A go-to favorite of mine is apple slices with 2 tablespoons of peanut or almond butter; however, some other options are nut butter with whole wheat bread or crackers. Regardless of how the nut butter is eaten, it is important to realize that even though it provides an excellent source of protein, it also runs high in calories. To say the least, this is where the saying "everything in moderation" counts!
Yogurt is always a great choice when picking a healthy snack. It provides a rich source of calcium and comes in so many varieties—even non-dairy! To ensure that you are getting the most out of your yogurt, keep an eye out for its sugar and fat content. A lot of times, in an effort to keep the calories low, some yogurt companies many substitute decreasing the amount of fat by increasing the amount sugar or vice versa. I, personally, like to go for a plain yogurt and sweeten it up with a tablespoon of honey or a handful of fresh fruit. This way I have some control over the amount of sugar that I am consuming.
4. Homemade Trail Mix
Ever had a craving for something sweet and crunchy at the same time? A great snack for when this craving hits is homemade trail mix. Depending on your preference, your trail mix can include any variety of unsalted or lightly salted nuts and unsweetened dried fruit. An added bonus of making your own trail mix goes beyond controlling the amount of salt and sugar but also cost. You will find—as I did—that making your own trail mix at home is not only super easy but also very cost-effective!
When you are in the mood for something savory, try some hummus! Hummus is a super tasty, protein-packed spread that is made with chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, and lemon. It goes great with vegetables, whole wheat crackers or pretzels. As with anything that is downright delicious, remember portion control so as to not over indulge. The goal is to eat just enough to sustain you until the next meal.
6. Homemade Granola
Are you a lover of granola? I was completely in love with granola until I found out how high it is in sugar and fat — a fact that hurt my heat deeply until I discovered the benefits of making my own granola! Like homemade trail mix, granola is super easy to make, and you may find that you already have a lot of the ingredients in your pantry. Some great add-ins for a nutritious and healthy granola are raw nuts, flax seeds, quinoa, unsweetened dried fruit and much more. To make the granola a more substantial and filling snack, it can be eaten with your favorite yogurt or low-fat/non-dairy milk. I particularly like granola with some almond milk. Yum!
A power smoothie is a great way to start the day off right; however, smoothies can also serve as an awesome snack to have between meals. Aside from the fact that it is simply delicious, a smoothie is also a great way to make sure that you are getting your daily serving of fruits, vegetables, and other essential nutrients. With all the benefits that smoothies have to offer, not to mention the different types of smoothies you can make, what’s not to love about this versatile drink?
In today’s fast paced world, it is so easy to make unhealthy choices when it comes to the foods we eat, but that does not have to be the case. This cycle of unhealthy snacking can be ended by replacing foods full of empty calories with more nutritious options. Some of my favorite go-to healthy snacks were discussed here, but what are some healthy snacks that you like to eat? Did any make my list?