With gas stations and vending machines readily accessible, bypassing unhealthy packaged snacks can be challenging. But healthy snacks do exist without coming with a heavy price tag or even sacrificing taste for nutrition.
So, what are some healthy snack ideas? Find out what constitutes a healthy snack and give these 25+ easy and healthy ideas a try, including gluten-free and heart-healthy ideas!
Why Is Healthy Snacking Important?
Snacking is often viewed as unhealthy behavior. However, satisfying the body with a healthy snack option can lead to important health benefits.
These include appetite control, weight maintenance, optimizing nutrient intake, and enhancing both energy and concentration levels.
Healthy Snacking Controls Appetite
One of the most common reasons people snack is to satisfy hunger or a craving leading up to the next meal. A protein-rich snack can do so, as the macronutrient helps induce satiety to subsequently control appetite.
Snacks rich in healthy, unsaturated fats, such as those sourced from avocados and nuts, are also satiating foods. Including high-fiber food is also advantageous.
Healthy Snacking Helps Maintain a Healthy Weight
Healthy Snacking Optimizes Nutrient Intake
When choosing healthy snacks over-packaged products, healthy snacking poses the opportunity to harness more nutrients in the day.
For instance, not only does Greek yogurt supply satiety-inducing protein but bone-supporting calcium. Topping with fresh berries supplies fiber for digestive and heart health, along with vitamin C to boost the immune system.
Healthy Snacking Heightens Energy Levels
Along with snacking to cure that craving or hunger, you may reach for sweets to trigger that so-called "sugar high". Unfortunately, though, those sugary products cause blood sugars to drop just as quickly as they spiked. This can consequently lead to plummets in energy.
A healthy snack, especially when balanced with the right nutrients, helps regulate blood sugars and increase energy levels.
Healthy Snacking Enhances Concentration
Healthy snacking can help enhance concentration by quieting a growling stomach and fueling the brain.
The importance of a balanced snack cannot be stressed enough, though. Research published in Nutrients indicates snacking on "unhealthy" snacks, such as chocolate and biscuits, was linked to higher stress and more cognitive failures.
What Makes a Snack Healthy?
Simply put, a healthy snack is one that is rich in nutrients and able to subside hunger whenever it may arise. A satisfying snack is often balanced with protein, fiber, and/or healthy fat.
As a general rule, a healthy snack provides between 10 to 15 grams of protein. Protein is a vital component for both snacks and meals, as it helps reduce appetite, boost metabolism. It provides lasting energy and blunts cravings towards carbs, too.
Including healthy fat in a snack can also help induce satiety. Pairing fiber with protein, including from fruits and veggies, can also enhance satiety. The pairing likewise provides a number of nutrients, all without the worry of adding empty calories.
If ever in doubt on how to replace junk food with healthy snacks, always go for whole foods. These include whole grains, fruits, veggies, low-fat dairy products, nuts, and seeds.
Looking for a healthy snack on the go or to take to work? We have you covered with over 25 satisfying ideas for a delicious and nourishing snack time!
Nuts & Seeds for Snacking
Nuts and seeds offer protein and heart-healthy fats, which are often lacking in standard snack foods. Keep hunger at bay leading up to lunchtime and kill that mid-afternoon with an ounce of various nuts and seeds, including:
• Pumpkin seeds
• Almonds, cashews, walnuts, and other mixed nuts
• Dry-roasted sunflower seeds
• Homemade trail mix
Trail mix has the potential to be filled with protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and other admirable nutrients. However, store-bought products can be loaded with added sugar, salt, and other unwanted ingredients. And while nuts and seeds are naturally gluten-free, trail mixes may contain gluten.
To ensure using high-quality ingredients, make and create your own variety. Fill the bag with nuts and seeds such as almonds, cashews, and sunflower seeds along with dried fruits. Ration out ¼ cup single servings into small containers or bags. Doing so also makes it a grab-and-go snack for work, school, or the gym.
Here are some nutritious trail mix ideas to get you started:
• Original: peanuts, almonds, cacao nibs, raisins
• Spicy: almonds, wasabi peas, spiced beef jerky pieces
• Sweet: peanuts, coconut chips, cacao nibs, dried cranberries
• Spicy-sweet: honey roasted peanuts, cajun peanuts, almonds
• Coffee: espresso beans, almonds, raisins
• Peanut butter and jelly: peanuts, raisins, banana chips, mini peanut butter crackers
• Banana split: peanuts, dried strawberry and banana chips, mini dark chocolate chips
• Fall-inspired: dried apples, walnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds
Nut Butters & Fiber Pairings
Peanut butter and other nut butters are also great healthy snack ideas for work or on the go. They are rich in protein and healthy fat, non-perishable, and a reliable product to keep on hand.
Keep peanut butter to a 1 to 2 tablespoon serving to keep overall fat and calorie intake controlled. Some delicious pairings include:
• Apple slices with almond butter
• Small banana with peanut butter
• Rice cakes smeared with peanut butter and topped with sliced strawberries
• Peanut butter wedged into a few celery stalks and garnished with raisins
• A slice of whole-grain toast with peanut butter and smashed raspberries
• Baby carrots dipped into peanut butter
Good Snack Idea Pro Tip: When choosing peanut butter, be sure to select a product free of added sugars and oils. To verify, its Ingredient Label should simply indicate solely peanuts and possibly a little salt. Also explore other nut and seed butters, including almond, cashew, and sunflower seed butters.
Looking for a crunchy, savory snack that is sure to satisfy? Ditch the chips and go for roasted chickpeas instead.
Roasted chickpeas can be found pre-made at the store or prepared at home for the ultimate ingredient control. Follow this 4-step process for homemade roasted chickpeas:
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Rinse, drain, and dry a 15-ounce can of chickpeas/garbanzo beans.
2. Evenly spread dried garbanzo beans on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sea salt, lightly tossing for even coating.
3. Roast for 25 minutes, gently shaking the pan every 10 minutes for even cooking.
4. Remove from the oven and enjoy as is or toss spices and seasonings. Offer flavor with a ranch packet, chili seasoning and lime juice, or other preferred seasonings.
Easy & Tasty Vegetable Snacks
If thinking healthy snacking is resorted solely to noshing on raw broccoli and baby carrots, think again! Enjoy a serving or two of veggies and elevate their satiety factor by pairing with a protein source.
Beat that snack attack with these nutritious and delicious veggie snack ideas:
• Hummus paired with carrot sticks
• Greek yogurt ranch with broccoli
• Deli turkey wrapped around sliced bell pepper and cream cheese
• Small serving of tuna salad with carrot sticks
• A serving edamole with cucumber slices
Fruit & Dairy Snack Ideas
Fruit offers natural sweetness to beat that sweet tooth. It also is a great source of fiber to increase satiety and other essential nutrients.
Fruit also contains the natural sugar fructose, which can cause blood sugar to spike when eaten alone. Eating fruit with a protein-rich dairy source helps stabilize blood sugar and prevents it from fluctuating.
Pair a serving of fruit, often 1 small piece or cup, with a serving of a protein-packed dairy source for a satisfying snack:
• Fresh peaches with cottage cheese
• Plain, non-fat Greek yogurt, topped with blueberries, and a dash of cinnamon
• Low-fat cheese sticks with grapes, dates, or figs
• Low-fat milk paired with a banana
Other Healthy Snack Ideas
While delicious and nutritious, great snacks are not just resorted to nuts, fruits, and veggies. Other satisfying healthy snack ideas for work or at home include:
• Lightly salted edamame
• A few slices of prosciutto with dried figs
• Low-sodium ham wrapped around a string cheese
• Beef jerky
• Hard-boiled eggs with grapes
• Plain, air-popped popcorn
Popcorn is a healthy snack alternative to potato chips and a high volume can be enjoyed without breaking the calorie bank. Skip out on the salt and butter and offer flavor with favorite seasonings, including:
• Pizza: oregano, basil, red pepper flakes
• Cinnamon spice: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves
• Ranch: onion powder, garlic powder, and dill
• Taco: oregano, cumin, and chili, garlic, and onion powders
• Garlic parmesan: garlic and onion powders and parmesan cheese
• Lemon peppercorn: lemon zest and juice and ground peppercorn
• Chili lime: lime zest and chili powder
Bonus Healthy Snack Tips
In addition to preparing and enjoying the healthy snack ideas above, take more action with these tips:
1. Replace the Candy Jar with a Fruit Bowl
Eliminating the candy jar and keeping the bowl filled with colorful fruits can subtly initiate better healthy food choices.
2. Keep Stocked with Healthy Snack Options
Have a sweet tooth coming on? Instead of running to the vending machine for a sugary treat, keep dark chocolate squares at your desk.
3. Create a Healthy Snack Station
Next time you plan to treat your coworkers, create a homemade trail mix or a fun yogurt station. Your colleagues and body will thank you for the healthy work snacks!
4. Offer Infused Water at the Office (or Home!)
Though water is not necessarily a snack, thirst can be mistaken for hunger and prompt a craving. Staying hydrated can help control hunger levels and lower the risk of eating when not necessarily hungry.
5. Take Advantage of BistroMD Snacks
In addition to offering balanced meals, bistroMD offers EATS (Essential and Tasty Snacks). These snacks are a cost-friendly and delicious approach to snacking beyond standard protein bars.
Each bistroMD snack supplies between 8 to 15 grams of protein and an average of 200 calories. Eating between meals helps stabilize blood sugars, boost metabolism, curb food cravings, and heighten energy levels.
Healthy snacking has also never tasted so good! Numerous snack options include dark chocolate coconut bars, parmesan Italiano chips, and cinnamon toast pretzels just to name a few…
Recapping Healthy Snack Ideas
Whether on the go or for working at home, look beyond chips, cookies, and other prepackaged snacks. Not only do they tend to be laden in calories, sodium, saturated fat, and other unwanted ingredients but can impede daily energy and health goals.
Know that healthy snack ideas rich in protein, fiber, and healthy fat do exist - all while satisfying cravings! If in a pinch, try selecting wholesome foods that are proven to nourish the body and energize your day.