Snacking is tough. Actually, it’s easy – too easy for most people. Candy, chips and other snacks are plentiful in most homes and workplaces, and seeing them usually leads to eating them. Healthy snacking is the tough part. Healthy snacks require a little more thought to work into our daily lives and sometimes even require a little more work to find in stores. But, that additional work and thought can be rewarding, whether you’re trying to lose weight or simply eat healthier.
Blount Memorial registered dietitian Angie Tillman says regardless of the reason, we all should be eating more real foods. “By ‘real food,’ I mean more whole foods or foods in their natural states,” Tillman explained. “This is one of the biggest improvements the average person could make to his or her overall diet. Ideally, our diets should be made up of vegetables, fruits, quality meats, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds and quality dairy products. Most of the snacks we see in stores and in our homes, however, are far removed from the way nature intended them to be, particularly those snacks that have extremely long ingredients lists. The easiest way we can achieve this goal is to cook more meals at home from scratch using quality ingredients,” she said. “It is possible, though, to find ‘real food’ items, as well, that can carry that goal forward even when you just need a snack,” she added.
“The first ‘real food’ snacks I’d recommend are, quite simply, real foods,” Tillman said. “For instance, an apple with almond butter, Greek yogurt with berries, and sliced vegetables with hummus or guacamole are great snacks you can make yourself using real ingredients. The reality is, though, that we all have busy lives, which means we sometimes need a pre-packaged, shelf-stable snack that can be kept in our cars, our desks or our gym bags. Some of my favorites of these are Larabars, which are basically made up of just fruit and nuts, and have no added sugars. The caveat with Larabars is that they’re low in protein, so you might supplement with an egg to balance your snack out even more,” she explained. “When it comes to protein, meat snacks such as EPIC bars, Chomps beef sticks and beef jerky can be good sources. Just be sure to look for grass-fed meats with minimal processing and additives,” she added.
Chips always are a favorite snack, and Tillman says there are ways to get your chip fix while remaining healthy. “Check out sweet potato chips for a healthy snack,” she said. “Again, look for ones with short ingredients lists, and keep an eye on portion sizes. For a different taste, try coconut chips, which are dried chips of coconut meat. These are a great source of healthy fats and fiber, and they’re great by themselves or on top of yogurt, salad or oatmeal. Similarly, nuts or seeds with dried fruit provide both healthy fats and fiber, along with protein. You can mix these up yourself, or find them in stores, just remember to look for ones with zero added sugar,” she added.
“Seaweed snacks, too, are tasty ‘real food’ snacks that are low in calories and rich in minerals such as iodine, calcium, magnesium and potassium,” Tillman said. “Don’t let the name throw you off. Seaweed snacks have a great crunch and flavor,” she added.