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As a dietitian, I am asked all the time if snacking is healthy. I’m here to tell you the answer is a resounding “Yes!” Snacking on nutrient-dense foods that are high in nutrients and low in calories will also help you increase your intake of crucial vitamins, minerals and plant chemicals called "phytochemicals."
In fact, snacking is not only delicious, it is important for keeping you satisfied throughout the day so you don't overeat at meals, as well as replenishing your energy stores before and after exercising. But what about snacking on cookies, chips, and candy?
Remember that there is no such thing as a “bad” food. Instead, think of foods as “always” or “sometimes” foods. You can absolutely eat your salty, sweet or high fat snacks as well, but choose them in moderation, or about 1-3 times per week. Try planning your “always” and “sometimes” snack foods ahead of time and keep more nutrient-dense filling snack foods handy for when you need them. If you need some ideas of what types of snacks fit the bill, here's a list of my favorite healthy snacks!
Popcorn without a lot of additives and ingredients can be a great snack. It is extremely filling, full of fiber and low in calories. Pop it yourself and add your own spices: I like to add a bit of garlic and onion powders to mine, with a dash of salt. If you can’t pop your own, healthier options at the store include the Buddha brand and Trader Joe’s olive oil and herbed popcorns.
2. Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are a delicious anti-inflammatory addition to your diet. Try mixing your own trail mixes from your stash at home or buy premade mixes at the store. Watch out for the trail mixes that are high in sugar and salt, and stick to the ones with whole ingredients that you can recognize and pronounce.
While they can be expensive, berries are a very filling and satisfying snack that packs a nutritional punch! Try blackberries for a good dose of fiber or strawberries for a snack high in vitamin C.
4. Banana with nut butter
This is one of my go-to fast and easy snacks. I usually grab a spoonful of almond butter and have a little with each bite of banana. This is a great high protein post workout snack.
5. Peanut Butter & Dates
Once I discovered this flavor combination, I was completely hooked. This is definitely a rich and sweeter snack option that can double as a dessert.
6. Clementines and Apples
These fruits are great because they are so easy to pack and take with you. Surprisingly enough, research has actually proven that eating an apple a day can help keep the doctor away! Both of these fruits are amazing snacks and full of important nutrients to keep you energized throughout your day.
7. Hummus & Bell Peppers
Some of you may not be on the raw veggie bandwagon yet. I had to force myself for a while until I started loving my veggies every day. I found that bringing cut up veggies to work increased the likelihood that I would actually eat them. So start taking all types of cut up veggies with you: sugar snap peas, jicama, celery, bell peppers, cucumber and more!
8. Baby watermelon
Cut a baby watermelon in half and cover it with plastic wrap if you are taking it to go. It is easy to eat with a spoon and it's especially delightful on a warm day.
9. Granola Bars
Granola bars and protein bars in general tend to be a “sometimes” food because they tend to be high in sugar content and artificial ingredients. However, there are better options on the market, including Larabars. Larabars are a great option because they have wholesome ingredients high in vitamins, minerals and fiber.
10. Chia Pudding
Chia pudding is a delightful treat filled with fiber, calcium, protein and heart-healthy fats. Check out this delicious and easy recipe that has the consistency of tapioca and is only sweetened with natural sugar from fruit.
11. Roasted Garbanzo Beans
Roasted garbanzo beans perfectly satisfy your craving for a crunchy, salty snack. You can easily make this snack by yourself or buy them at the store.
12. Avocado on Whole Grain Toast
This is a very versatile snack that you can get creative with. Add the avocado to toast in slices, or smash it onto the toast with a fork. This is good with a sprinkle of taco seasoning or with greens and tomato. This snack is not only delicious, but is also very high in heart-healthy fats!
Edamame is a fancy word for whole soybeans. You can buy them frozen and heat them up in the microwave in their shells or you can also buy them without the shell to save the hassle and mess! I do recommend buying organic since conventionally grown soy is typically genetically modified. Sprinkle with a touch of salt or garlic powder for extra flavor.