Let’s talk about all the different ways to approach easy, healthy snacking!!!
Snacks are foods eaten in between meals and it can be argued that the increase in snacking has certainly contributed to the increase in the number of overweight and obese folks now in the United States. Another contributing factor are the types of foods selected as snacks. Today, I am sharing with you how to construct the most satisfying, healthy snacks and the best ways to use them. In addition, I am giving you my top 10 favorite snacks!! Many are super easy to make and take with you on the go.
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Components of an easy healthy snack
Just like our meals, healthy snacks should also consist of the proper ratio of the macronutrients, protein, carbohydrate and fat. Now not every snack will include all three, but the key is to make sure that all carbohydrates are paired with a protein and/or fat.
Why? The primary reason is that you will likely have more satiety from this combination. But also, eating a strictly carbohydrate rich, especially one that has lots of refined carbohydrates, causes a much quicker impact on the level of sugar in your blood. When you create a meal or snack with a combination of these macronutrients, the sugar response is much slower.
Easy healthy snacking secrets
These are some of my tricks or guidelines I try to focus on when I need ways for easy healthy snacking. Following some, or all of these, helps me to make better decisions and I hope that you will find they do the same for you.
Pay attention to hunger cues rather than aimlessly snacking
It is best to only eat a snack because you are truly hungry. I know that often for me, a certain time of day in the office always triggered me to want something to eat. Often, it was more a trigger, habit or an emotional response rather than a response to hunger pains. The trick is to pay attention to your body and how it feels. Ask yourself if you are really hungry? Do you have hunger pains? Is your stomach making noises? If the answer is yes, then by all means it’s time for some easy healthy snacking.
Make your own rather than buying already prepared
Ok, I get it. Sometimes you just don’t have time to prep up a bunch of snacks. But some snacks are super easy to throw together quickly. Create a list of your favorites and make sure you always have the ingredients on hand. Then when you are in a bind and don’t have a lot of time you have snacks you can quickly make on your own.
However, if you need to buy some prepackaged snacks, try to look for snacks that again contain a combination of macronutrients. Beware of “healthy” sounding snacks, like pre-packaged fruit yogurt and granola bars or snack bars as they can often contain a high amount of sugar.
I think that being prepared and planning ahead are the #1 keys to healthy living. It doesn’t just magically happen, that’s for sure. But making sure you have healthy snacks ready when hunger strikes or at least an idea of what you can quickly make will aid you in making a healthier decision. You may also want to invest in containers that allow you to pack up snacks and take them with you on the go.
Include at least one fresh fruit or vegetable with your snack
Most adults come nowhere close to eating the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Fruits and vegetables are a great source of fiber which helps to provide satiety as well as keeping the digestive system moving along. Plus, the additional nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants provide many benefits for your body. Easy healthy snacking means if you are grabbing a protein bar as your snack, it is best to pair it up with a half a piece of fruit or some veggie sticks as well.
If you are hungry eat a snack
It’s important to keep your energy level and blood sugar level throughout the day. This means that if you are really truly hungry you need to eat something. If you are trying to watch calories, I still believe you should eat when you are hungry. You may just want to choose a snack that is a bit lower in calories or make adjustments in your next meal to allow you to have the snack.
Why do I believe you should eat when you are hungry? Not eating may lead you to either experience a decrease in energy, headaches or crankiness if you get too hungry. Also, when you do go to eat your next meal and you enter it starving you are more likely to overeat.
Ideas for easy healthy snacking
Nuts and Berries
Blueberries, blackberries or raspberries work best since they are intact and don’t need to be cut. Combine ½ cup of berries with 20 almonds for a snack with 180 calories, 12 g fat, 16 g carbohydrates, 5 g fiber and 6 grams of protein. If you feel like that’s more calories than you want for your snack, simply cut the number of almonds in half.
Avocado on whole wheat bread
Top a slice of 100% whole wheat bread with 1/3 of a fresh avocado. I like to sprinkle it with 1 tsp of hemp seeds for a little bit of protein and it makes it look prettier. This snack is 171 calories, 10 g fat, 17 g carbohydrates, 5 g fiber and 5 grams of protein.
Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, blueberries
Adding in some seeds provides a bit of a variety and also a slightly different nutrient profile than just nuts and berries. I like to combine 1 T pumpkin seeds, 10 almonds and ½ cup of blueberries. This snack gives you 179 calories, 12 g fat, 15 g carbohydrates, 4 g fiber and 7 grams of protein.
The calories are really going to vary here depending on what you put in your smoothie. The Power Pink Berry and Beet Smoothie, one of my favorites, gives you 247 calories, 7 g fat, 32 g carbohydrates, 8 g fiber and 16 grams of protein.
It makes a pretty good serving size so you can easily split it in half and save the rest for the next day. Some other options that I recommend can be found in this post on Fruit and Veggie Smoothies or you can of course, create your own.
Apple slice with peanut butter
Slice up one medium apple and pair it with 1 tablespoon of nut butter for a snack with 175 calories, 8 g fat, 26 g carbohydrates, 6 g fiber and 4 g of protein. I recommend making your own nut butter or choosing a brand without sugar added.
Quinoa Chocolate with Strawberries or Raspberries
Chocolate gets a bad wrap, but it actually has nutritional value and is full of antioxidants and nutrients. And I believe chocolate has a place in easy healthy snacking. The trick is to select dark chocolate with a higher percentage of cacao, as they generally have less added sugar. Pair it with some strawberries and you will feel like you are eating chocolate dipped strawberries. Make a batch of the chocolate and freeze in small portions so you can easily grab them when you are ready for a snack. Pair the chocolate with 1 cup of whole strawberries for 171 calories, 5.4 g fat, 27 g carbohydrates, 4 g fiber and 3.3 g protein.
Quinoa with strawberries and avocado
In a container combine ½ cup quinoa, ½ cup sliced strawberries, ¼ fresh avocado diced up. Drizzle with ½ tsp olive oil and a squeeze of lemon or lime. One serving provides 220 calories, 10 g fat, 29 g carbohydrates, 7 g fiber and 5 g protein. Make a batch of quinoa on the weekend and then fix up your snacks each morning before leaving the house. Squeeze the lime over the avocado to help keep it from turning brown.
Hummus Cucumber Wheels
This snack is super easy to throw together, especially if you decide to purchase the hummus pre-made. If you decide to make your own, take a look at my own versions of a Classic Hummus and a Jalapeno Hummus.
I feel like the cucumber wheels make a nice, healthy substitute for a chip. Cut the cucumbers thick enough to hold up the hummus when you dip. Personally, I like to keep the peel on the cucumber for a bit of extra fiber, but just be sure to scrub it super well first.
Spread 1 cup of sliced cucumber wheels with ¼ cup hummus. This snack transport easily and provides 156 calories, 10 g fat, 12 g carbohydrates, 5 g fiber and 5 g protein.
Chilled oatmeal parfait with fruit and yogurt
Layer up ½ cup cooked oatmeal, ½ cup berries and ½ cup of 2% Greek yogurt. This parfait contains 192 calories, 4 grams fat, 20 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber and 16 g protein. I recommend cooking a batch of oatmeal ahead of time and chilling it before assembling the parfaits. You can make several ahead for the week by layering the oatmeal and yogurt, then on the day you are eating, slice up and add your strawberries.
Plain Greek Yogurt 2% with fresh fruit
Mix in 1 tsp chia and 1 tsp flax to ½ cup plain 2% Greek yogurt top with ½ cup of your favorite berry or other fresh fruit. You can of course also use lower fat Greek yogurt but I prefer the flavor, texture and satiety I get with the fat content in this yogurt.
The nutrient facts may change depending on the fruit you choose. But using fresh strawberries in the parfait provides 186 calories, 6 g fat, 16 g carbohydrates, 4 g fiber and 19 g protein. Another trick is to use unsweet frozen berries and let it thaw just a bit. With the fruit a little bit icy, it is more like a frozen treat.
Good luck with achieving easy healthy snacking success!! I hope you find these tips helpful to your healthy living goals. Please share your snack ideas or snacking success stories with me!!! I would love to hear from all of you and be able to share your tips and recipes with the rest of the community here.
Check out these posts for other topics and recipes you may like and may help you make healthier choices.
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