Have you ever gone to the refrigerator with every intention of eating a healthy snack, and felt like you don’t know where to start? Or been at work and forgot to pack a snack and ended up with an unhealthy option like that doughnut from the breakroom? Here are some great ideas to have on-hand at home or to pack for when you’re on the go.
Fruits are a great snack option as they contain many vitamins, minerals, and fiber and are low in calories. A bonus is that they also have a high water content, which helps with your daily hydration goals.
You’ll find many sources provide the guideline that a healthy snack should be roughly 100 calories. This is a great place to start, especially to get an idea of portion size. A few examples of 100-calorie servings of fruit include:
- 25 medium strawberries
- 1 cup of blueberries
- 1 medium banana
- 2 cups diced watermelon
- 1 medium pear
Try these healthy smoothies that include fruit and often also Greek yogurt (see below for why it’s also a great snack option!) and other superfoods like spinach, and chia seeds.
Similar to fruit, fresh vegetables are high in nutrients and low in calories, often referred to as having low energy density. This means that there are few calories in a large portion of the food, so you can eat to your heart’s content without having consumed a large portion of your daily calories. Prep them ahead of when you’ll need them to make it an easy grab-and-go option. Pair them with healthy dips and dressings (check out these recipes) like hummus, plain Greek yogurt, or simple guacamole (just lime juice, salt and pepper!) and you’ve got yourself a healthy snack!
- Tomatoes (1 cup) 26 calories
- Carrots (1 cup) 45 calories
- Bell Peppers (1 cup) 39 calories
- Broccoli (1 cup) 31 calories
- Cucumbers (1 cup) 16 calories
- Celery (1 cup) 14 calories
Nuts are considered to be energy dense. So, while they provide unsaturated fats (read about the difference in dietary fats, here), protein, as well as micronutrients, such as folic acid, niacin, vitamins E and B6, and minerals such as magnesium, copper, zinc, selenium, phosphorus and potassium, you have to watch the portions. To give an idea of a serving size, here are a few examples of 100-calorie portions of different nuts:
- 14 almonds
- 16 peanuts
- 29 pistachios
- 10 cashews
- 9 walnuts
Cheese is often thought of as a food to avoid. Yes, consuming large portions, or eating it too frequently isn’t a great option as it often contains high amounts of sodium, fat, and calories. But when chosen wisely, string cheese can be a great addition to your routine and provides protein (several we checked had around 48% of your daily recommended amount, based on a 2,000 calorie diet) which will keep you going until your next meal. Two low-fat mozzarella string cheeses have around 100 calories. String cheese is easy to throw into your lunch bag or grab from the fridge when in a rush!
In last week’s post, we shared that cottage cheese is considered a “healthy” processed food made from skim milk. 1/2 cup of cottage cheese is about 100 calories, is full of protein, and vitamin A. You can use it in a variety of ways, including by adding fresh fruit and nuts as a breakfast option. For a midday snack, put it on a slice of toast- add smoked salmon, tuna, or sliced hard-boiled eggs (other great snack items on their own!). Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper and you have a delicious, low-calorie, healthy snack. Check out some other cottage cheese toast ideas using the link below.
Hardboiled eggs are a great snack option- and anybody can make them. Make more than just a few and keep them in the fridge for when you need a quick snack. If you don’t eat them all, try the recipe below for a healthy egg salad and don’t let them go to waste!
Hardboiled eggs are high in protein and contain a healthy dose of vitamin A. They can help maintain strong bones as their vitamin D promotes bone density. Lutein and zeaxanthin, which are found in boiled eggs, have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that also help maintain your eye health. Each large hardboiled egg is roughly 77 calories.
Greek yogurt’s versatility is often overlooked. It can be enjoyed with fruit and granola or as a substitute for sour cream in recipes. Use it in smoothies, overnight oats, or even healthy mashed potatoes! Add it to soups for creaminess. Make frozen Greek yogurt bark with berries, seeds, or whatever else sounds good (find the recipe below!).
Many consider Greek yogurt a super food since it is loaded with protein, probiotics, and other micronutrients like calcium. As a result of its straining and fermentation processes, Greek yogurt has less lactose than regular yogurt, milk and even ice cream. And its live and active cultures help break down the lactose it does contain, making it easier for people to digest, even those with lactose intolerance. There are 80 calories in one cup of Greek yogurt.
If you use the variety that is canned in water, 1 can of tuna is around 90 calories. It might sound like it’s not a great snack option because you wouldn’t typically pop open a tin and eat it straight. But the ticket is to also use other low-calorie ingredients to add different textures, flavors, and nutrients. The recipe below shares a creative, low-calorie option for how to incorporate tuna as a snack or as a light lunch. Using Nori (seaweed sheets) to hold it all together, you wrap tuna alongside vegetables like cucumber or thinly sliced carrots. Add sprouts and/or avocado. It’s delicious, light, and full of protein and nutrients!
If you find that you often need a snack but don’t have ideas in the moment, have some of these items available so you don’t default to an unhealthy option. Once you’re in the routine, you’ll find that planning ahead and making slightly more complex snacks is enjoyable and something you look forward to later in the day.