It’s the middle of the morning and your stomach starts growling. You ate breakfast, but that was 3 hours ago and lunch isn’t for another 2 hours. What do you do? Snacking is important because you need to be refueled every 2-4 hours or your “fat burning furnace” (metabolism) will burn out! When you’re "on the go," the normal tendency is to turn to something quick and convenient. Usually that’s something from a vending machine or fast food restaurant because most of us don’t prepare for the “snack attack.” The secret to healthy snacking is combining protein and carbohydrates. Carbohydrates fuel your brain and body, but they digest within 1-1.5 hours. Adding protein, good fats, or high fiber foods to your snack helps keep your energy level constant by lengthening the time of digestion and slowing the conversion of carbs into glucose, which optimizes metabolism and keeps the body out of fat-storing mode.” Below I have over 100 ideas for healthier snacking that will assist in higher metabolism and more effective fat burning. See what kind of convenient, quick snacks you can create using these snack foods! ENJOY! Remember to pick a carb and a protein to combine for best fat-burning power
Healthy alternatives to potato chips, dips, pre-packaged snacks, candy, soda, ice cream, cookies, cakes, frozen & fast foods!
Instead of Potato Chips Those crispy taters are delicious, but these snacks are healthier and pack more of a nutritional punch. Plus, they’ll still give you that crunch you’re looking for.
1) Kale Chips. They might not sound appealing, but give these crisps a try. They not only taste good, but are loaded with nutrients.
2) Popcorn. As long as you don’t go for the super buttery version, popcorn can be a delicious and incredibly satisfying alternative to chips. Watch for sales on mini-bags of Jolly Time Healhy Pop popcorn. Have a handful of dry roasted nuts with your bag of popcorn.(try almonds dusted with dark chocolate or dusted with vanilla!)
3) Veggies. Baby carrots, sugar snap peas, celery and bell peppers offer up a crisp, crunchy snack that’s full of the stuff your body needs. Try blending lowfat cottage cheese until smooth, and adding dry ranch dressing mix for a dip!
4) Pita Chips. You can make or buy whole grain pita chips that are healthier than potato chips, but still pretty delicious. Add protein by using hummus as a dip!
5) Salted Cucumber Slices. Cucumbers are an excellent choice for giving you that crunch you crave. Add a little salt or seasoned rice vinegar, salt and pepper.
6) Ants on a Log. Bring back your childhood with this snack that offers up a serious crunch and some protein to power your brain.
7) Whole Wheat Pretzels. Whether you go for the soft version or the crunchy, these snacks are better for you than chips, in moderation of course. Dip them in peanut butter for protein source.
8) Trail Mix. If you don’t want to eat plain nuts, mix them up with dried fruits and wheat pretzels to make your own healthy trail mix. Store in an air tight container and take some with you in Ziplocs for a convenient snack!
9) Sunflower Seeds. If you want to mindlessly chew on something while you study, these small seeds are a great choice.
10) Peanuts. Grab a handful of dry roasted peanuts to get a quick energy boost from this protein-loaded nut.
11) Fruit Chips. There’s more than one way to eat fruit; in this chip form they may make you not even miss the potato kind.
12) Veggie Chips. If you just really need to eat some kind of chip, choose a healthier alternative. Veggie chips have more nutrients and can be even better for you if they’re baked.
13) Pickles. Pickles are loaded with sodium, it’s true, but if you only have a couple they’re a healthier, lower calorie snack than chips by far.
Instead of Unhealthy Dips and Spreads
Just because you’re not loading stuff up with heaps of Cheese Whiz and ranch dressing doesn’t mean you have to go without. Try these healthier options instead.
14) Salsa. Whether you buy it at the store or make up your own, this sassy sauce offers up vitamins without being short on taste.
15) Hummus - Made with chickpeas, this Middle Eastern treat is the perfect accompaniment to some pita chips or veggies.
16) Guacamole- Avocados do have a lot of fat, but it’s the good kind. Whip up some guac to get your study party started.
17) Bean Dip - Beans are a rich source of protein, and can be fun to eat in dip form.
18) Low-Cal Spinach Dip - Spinach dip isn’t known for being particularly healthy, but this recipe isn’t too bad. Plus, it’s full of nutrient-rich spinach.
19) Mustards - Dip pretzels and other snacks in this vinegary and salty condiment for a tasty treat.
20) Greek Yogurt- Never thought of using yogurt as a dip? Well it’s never too late to start. Put it on cucumber for a cool late-night treat.
21) Fruit Salsa - Salsa doesn’t have to be spicy and savory. Try out a fruit salsa for a sweeter alternative. Mango Salsa!
22) Low Fat Dressing - If you just can’t go without dressing, choose a low-fat or low-cal version of your favorite.
23) Neufatel Cheese - Instead of loading up your bagel with cream cheese, choose this healthier, but just as tasty, alternative instead.
24) Lowfat Cheese - Whether you go for the string cheese or the simple cheese wedges, low-fat cheese, is a great snack offering up a host of vitamins and some great protein. Sargento Brand is affordable.
25) Broccoli - Dipped in a tasty sauce, this green veggie packs a powerful nutritional punch. Try mixing it with lowfat ranch, sunflower seeds, and a sliced boiled egg!
26) Cantaloupe -This melon not only tastes great, but is a much healthier alternative to those fruit snacks. Have some cottage cheese with it!
27) Olives - Need something salty? Try olives instead of chips or crackers. Have some nuts or a boiled egg with it!
28) Tomato Slices and Olive Oil -Tomatoes are packed with lycopene and a wealth of other vitamins -and can be pretty satisfying with a little olive oil on top. They’re tasty with seasoned rice vinegar too. You could turn it into a sandwich with a little deli meat, mustard, and a wheat sandwich-thin!
29) Grapefruit - This pucker-inducing fruit may not be the easiest to eat, but it’s a great super food to enjoy any time of the day.
30) Sugar Snap Peas - These sweet peas are easy to store and provide a delicious crunch, not to mention some serious nutrition to fuel your brain.
31) Soynuts - soybeans are a great source of protein, low in calories and just plain tasty– a perfect trio. Try adding some to some high fiber cereal & dry fruit to make a trail mix.
Instead of Candy If you’ve got a sweet tooth, there are healthier places to turn than an economy sized bag of gummy bears. Beat the sweet with these healthy choices.
32) Kiwis - Sliced in half and taken in with a spoon, these fun green fruits are not only, healthy but fun to eat too.
33) Melon Balls - Watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew and other melons are sweet and delicious and can be perfect snack foods in this simple spherical form.
34) Fruit Salad - A mix of fruits like strawberries, raspberries, grapes, bananas and other great healthy snacks can be a great way to meet the needs of your sweet tooth without going overboard on sugar and calories. You could add a little honey and about a tsp. of lemon juice for a delicious “sweet dressing.”
35) Dark Chocolate - Provided you have just a small amount, dark chocolate has healthy antioxidants that make it better for you than its more sugary cousin, milk chocolate. Try dipping a banana in peanut butter and 1 teaspoon dark chocolate chips! Or mix dark chocolate chips into a homemade trail mix of high fiber cereal, nuts, & dry fruit.
36) Granola Bar - With tasty morsels of fruits inside, these treats are salty and sweet in one.
37) Cottage Cheese and Pineapple - Get the benefits of protein-filled cheese with the zing of a citrusy fruit in this snack.
38) Dried Apricots. Dried fruits like apricots are a great way to feel like you’re eating candy while still getting the vitamins from fruits. Try making a trail mix using chopped dried apricots.
39) Strawberries - They may not always be in season, but when they are these small fruits are the perfect alternatives to unhealthy candies.
40) Orange Slices - Next time you’re craving fruity candy, pick up an orange instead. It’s full of vitamin C which can help ensure you stay healthy. Have some beef jerky, nuts, or some other type of convenient protein with it!
41) Raisins and Craisins - Dried fruits like raisins are perfect to keep on hand in your dorm room, as they’ll stay fresh for months and are a great, easy snack. They’re perfect to add to salads and trail mixes.
42) Blueberries - Blueberries aren’t called a super food for nothing. They’re full of antioxidants and vitamins that will make your body happy. Try frozen ones to whole grain cereals or to Greek yogurt.
Fruit Leather - Instead of a fruit roll-up, opt for this healthier flattened fruit that has no sugar added.
Instead of SodaInstead of a sugary soda or diet soda with Aspartame, try these options for healthier refreshment.
43) Water - Water has no calories, and it provides the hydration your body needs to give you better concentration and memory. What drink could be better than that? Add a lemon wedge!
44) Cranberry Juice - not cocktail. Try mixing it with carbonated water!
45) Skim Milk - Unless you’re lactose intolerant, milk can provide your body with protein, calcium and other vitamins it needs.
Instead of Ice Cream These healthy alternatives to ice cream will see you through your craving without all the fat and calories.
46) Fruit Smoothie - Blend up fruit, milk and Greek yogurt to make one of these tasty treats.
47) Frozen Grapes - Frozen grapes will give you the chill you’re looking for with very few calories and no fat.
48) Fruit Popsicles - If you need a sweet frozen treat, one of your best bets is a whole fruit frozen popsicle.
Instead of Cookies and CakesReplace those Oreos and Chips Ahoy with these delicious and health-friendly alternatives.
Instead of Pre-Packaged Processed Snacks These snacks may be convenient, but they’re often packed with sodium, sugar and a wide range of chemicals. Opt for something a little more natural instead.
49) Parfait - Top yogurt with fresh berries and some granola and you’ve got yourself a healthy alternative to an ice cream sundae.
50) Frozen Banana with Nuts - Dip a banana in a little honey, roll it in nuts and stick it in the freezer for an amazing treat that’s good for you too.
51) Applesauce - Applesauce, especially the unsweetened kind, is pretty good for you, containing plenty of vitamin C, fiber, and potassium. Add chopped walnuts and a dash of cinnamon!
52) Brown Rice Cakes with Peanut Butter & Honey - Rice cakes alone might be a bit bland, but dress them up with a nut butter to make them super delicious
53) 2 sheets of Whole Grain Graham Crackers. A few graham crackers are a much better choice than most cookie
54) Fig Newtons - If you simply must have a cookie, choose one like Fig Newtons. While these cookies contain some not-so-good things, they also have real fruit that offers more vitamins than their chocolate chip counterparts.
55) Apples and Peanut Butter - Apples on their own are good for you, but paired with a great protein source like almond butter, they’re even better. Plus, both the apple and the almond butter will help you wake up and stay alert.
56) Fruit Cup - Look for fruit cups that are in water, not syrup, for a tasty, healthy and easy treat.
57) Cereal Bar - Cereal bars made with whole grain cereals are your best healthy bet if you’re looking for a convenient snack.
58) Sugar Free Jello - Does it contain a wealth of vitamins and minerals? Nope. But it does have no sugar and few calories, and that’s more than you can say for cookies or cakes. Add a dallop of sugar free, fat free Cool Whip.
59) Kashi Cookies - If you simply must have a cookie, go for one that attempts to be a little healthier. The Kashi brand contains flaxseed and other whole grains to give this junk food a boost.
Instead of Fast Food Seeking out a mini-meal to keep you going strong through your work day? Well, skip the fast food fare and make these healthier options
60) Side Salad - Instead of snacking on unhealthy foods, why not whip up a salad? It’s easy and can be tasty too.
61) Oatmeal - Instant oatmeal is easy to make, fills you up and keeps you healthy. Add nonfat milk, chopped walnuts or slivered almonds, grated apple, 1 tsp. brown sugar.
62) Lettuce Wraps- Use lettuce to wrap up other veggies, low-fat meats and other healthy treats.
63) Corn on the Cob - Eat it fresh if it’s in season or find it frozen if it’s not.
64) Whole Grain Cereal - Pair a healthy cereal with some skim milk for a meal that will fill you up without filling you out. My favorite is Kashi Berry Cluster Cereal.
65) Turkey Wrap - Turkey is one of the healthiest lunch meats out there, so combining it with a whole wheat tortilla, veggies and some mustard is an excellent way to snack smart.
66) Baked Potato - A baked potato topped with lowfat sour cream. Eat the skin for an extra vitamin-laden boost. You can wrap your potato in foil in the a.m. and let it bake while you go about your day. It’ll be ready for lunch!
67) Black Beans and Salsa. This snack is simple to make at home. Rinse off a can of black beans, heat them and top with salsa and guacamole for a healthy treat.
68) Sweet Potato Fries -When baked, you can get your fries fix with far better health with sweet potato fries. Just coat them in olive oil, a dash of salt, and bake.
69) Whole Wheat Pasta -A small bowl of whole wheat pasta with marinara sauce makes for a balanced and healthy snack
70) Veggie Pocket - Load up a pita with all kinds of veggies, from cucumbers to sprouts, top with mustard or a vinaigrette, and you’ve got yourself a killer snack.
71) Low-Fat Quesadilla - Low-fat cheese and veggies help make this snack one that’s healthy and craveable.
72) Low Fat Soup -Heat up a small bowl of soup to get some veggies, protein and other healthy stuff to keep you going.
73) Soft Taco - Using whole grain tortillas, turkey instead of beef and topping with extra veggies makes this snack a winner I cook up a batch of ground turkey with taco seasoning cooked into it, keep it in the fridge and pull some out to make quick tacos.
74) Sandwich on Whole Wheat Sandwich Thin or Bagel Thin - Instead of getting a burger, make yourself a healthy, old-fashioned sandwich instead.
75) Omelet – can add black beans, salsa, top with lowfat sour cream!
76) Vegetables and Dip - Baby carrots are convenient, tasty, and easy to pack. Cut up your favorite vegetables and dip them in hummus or a low fat dip.
77) Glass of Milk - Pair your favorite granola bar, graham cracker, a few fig bars, or a piece of toast with a glass of non-fat milk or cup of yogurt.
78) Fruit Smoothie. Choose your favorite fruit and blend with non-fat yogurt for a protein and carbohydrate boost.
79) Pita Pocket -Spread a whole wheat pita with hummus and stuff it with your favorite vegetables.
80) Tortilla Wrap - Wrap your favorite beans or vegetables in a tortilla. Top with salsa.
81) Bread and Spread –Toast a whole wheat Bagel Thin, or a slice of bread and top with one of the following toppings: 1-2 tablespoons of low or non-fat cream cheese; cottage cheese and a tomato slice; ½ cup fruit yogurt; 1-2 tsp. each peanut butter and favorite fruit preserves.
82) Trail Mix - Keep a bag of trail mix in your purse, desk drawer, or glove compartment. You can create your own healthy mix with your favorite dried fruits, nuts, whole grain cereal, crackers, or pretzels
83) Fruit and Dip. Keep fruit out where you can see it: on your kitchen counter or on your desk so you’ll reach for it before you go to the vending machine.
84) Turkey Sandwich Thin - Chicken or Turkey Breast, Lowfat Slice Cheese, Mustard, Lettuce, Tomato
85) Turkey Bacon and Scrambled Eggs - (Pre-cooked turkey bacon only has to be nuked in microwave 1 minute!)
86) Top a wheat bagel thin with fat free cream cheese and deli turkey or chicken (add desired veggies)
87) 2 Lowfat String Cheese Sticks and a handful of dry roasted nuts (almonds, cashews, peanuts, pistachios etc)
88) Yogurt Parfait -Small Container Greek Yogurt (14 gram protein type) + Kashi-Go-Lean Dry Cereal mixed in
89) Peanut/nut butter sandwich - Spread 2 teaspoons of nut butter on whole wheat bread, whole wheat pita, or half of a whole wheat bagel.
90) Two Pan-Fried Eggs (fried in Pam) and ½ cup brown rice (Once a week, I cook up a big pan of rice for the week so I can eat on it all week)
91) Brown Rice Cake topped with fat free cream cheese and deli turkey or chicken
92) Whole Grain Toast (1st ingredient whole wheat not enriched) piece of lowfat cheddar cheese (Sargento)
93) One-half peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat bread (could add 100% fruit spread) – the fiber and heart healthy fats make this a winner
94) Boiled Egg and a Low sugar granola bar (look for ones with at least 4g fiber and a few grams of protein.
95) Low Fat Triscuits with hummus, low-fat peanut butter or lowfat cheese
96) Apple with single serve peanut butter (2 TBS)
97) Piece of lowfat cheese with a few nuts
98) Baby carrots, celery, grape tomatoes, jicama or any portable veggies in a ziplock bag & a beef jerky
99) Trail mix consisting of a mix of high-fiber cereal, nuts, dried fruit
100) Smoothies made with fruit, 8 oz. low-fat Greek yogurt, ice and a little 100 percent juice
101) Small bag of low-fat popcorn – popcorn is a whole grain
102) Baked tortilla chips and salsa
103) Ants on a log – celery sticks stuffed with peanut butter and decorated with a few raisins
104) A cup of frozen grapes (wash, stem, then freeze!) and a handful of nuts
Instead of Frozen Foods
While there are some healthy frozen foods out there, the kinds you likely have in your freezer (frozen pizzas, chicken nuggets) aren’t the best for you. As far as freezer “lunches,” look for ones with 20 grams of protein and 300 calories or less. Here are some alternatives to frozen pizzas etc. Try these snacks instead
105) Best Freezer Single Meals for Microwave: Lean Cuisine, Weight Watcher’s Smart Ones, Kashi, Healthy Choice: Most of these have over 20 grams of protein and less than 300 calories per meal.
106) English Muffin Pizzas - Don’t heat up a whole frozen pizza if you’re hungry. Make a smaller, healthier English muffin version instead. Top a wheat English muffin with marinara, a 2 grated lowfat mozzarella string cheeses and Canadian Bacon.
107) Multi grain Waffle - Pop a whole grain waffle into the toaster, top it with 100%fruit spread or low sugar syrup, thinly sliced bananas, and chopped pecans. My favorite is Kashi Whole Grain Blueberry Waffles.
108) Bacon, Egg & Cheese Bagelwich - Toast a Wheat Bagel Thin. Add a poached egg, Canadian Bacon & Lowfat cheese slice. These are a better alternative to the “pre-packaged” breakfast freezer sandwiches.
109) Make a whole loaf of French Toast using whole grain bread and eggs. Use Freezer Ziplocs and freeze single servings of French toast to pop in your toaster! Top with Smart Balance Spread and low sugar syrup or 100% fruit spread.
110) Whole Grain Toast - Toast, topped with a whole fruit jam or peanut butter, or lowfat slice of cheddar cheese, can be a great snack that only takes minutes to make.
111) Pita Pizza - Don’t have English muffins? Whole grain pitas work just as well for constructing a more nutritious pizza in minutes.
112) Tuna - Put some tuna on top of whole grain crackers (Triscuits, lowfat Wheat Thins) to get loads of protein.
113) Hard Boiled Egg - A hard-boiled egg with salt and pepper is good for you, offering protein you need to keep going.
1. Nuts and nut butters. Research shows that nuts help lower cholesterol and may help to lower the risk of coronary heart disease. Most nuts are high in monounsaturated fats and offer an excellent source of protein, soluble fiber, vitamins and minerals. Some people are afraid to eat nuts as snacks because of their higher calorie and fat content (remember these are good fats). Research has shown that nuts can be incorporated into a healthy diet and may provide a health benefit. Choose nut butters that do not have extra fats and sugars added, such as Adam’s Peanut Butter. Choose raw or dry roasted nuts
2. Whole wheat breads, crackers, mini -bagels, pita breads, pretzels, and graham crackers. Whole wheat foods usually have more vitamins and minerals than white flour products and provide a better source of fiber. (Be sure to look for the words “whole wheat” not just “wheat.”) Foods high in fiber take longer to digest, thus helping you to feel fuller longer. In addition, some studies have shown that soluble fiber can help reduce cholesterol (oatmeal, rice, and beans for example). Fiber is also thought to help reduce the risk of some types of cancers. The National Cancer Institute recommends that adults eat 25 grams of fiber daily.
3. Fruits and Vegetables. Fruit provides a good source of fiber--a whole apple with the skin provides about 3.6 grams of fiber. Eating whole fruit instead of drinking fruit juice will provide you with more fiber and leave you feeling more full. Both fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that your body needs on a regular basis. The 5-a-day campaign encourages people to “eat your colors to stay healthy and fit.” Eating fruits and vegetables that have deep, rich colors will ensure that you are getting a dose of all the different phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals necessary for optimal health and energy. Examples (in rainbow order) include beets, oranges, yellow bell peppers, broccoli, blueberries, and eggplant. Choosing a variety of fruits and vegetables will provide you with plenty of flavor and will also make snacking fun.
4. Dairy and Soy products. These products provide both protein and carbohydrate in every serving. Dairy products and fortified soy products provide calcium, which is necessary for building and maintaining strong bones. The calcium requirement for adults aged 19-50 is 1,000 milligrams, and for adults over 50, 1200 milligrams. There are many low fat choices of milk, cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt and frozen yogurts. Fat free cream cheese packs a good serving of protein!
5. Beans. Beans are low in fat and provide an excellent source of protein, fiber, iron, and folic acid. They can be added to salads, soups, rice, put in tortillas, or eaten as a side dish. Beans can be blended to make a dip or spread for crackers or vegetables. Hummus is a good example.