Avoid the mid-afternoon slump by reaching for pick-me-up healthy snacks.
Snack smarter! Re-vamp your work drawer by removing sugar- and salt-laden snacks and replacing them with healthier munchies. Here are some of my favorites:
Opt for cereal varieties that contain more whole grains and less sugar. Look for terms such as “whole wheat,” “whole bran” or “whole oats” as the first ingredient. A healthier cereal choice is one that meets the following criteria:
- Fiber: 3 grams or more per serving (ideally 5 grams or more)
- Sugar: less than 8 grams per serving
- Protein: 2 grams or more per serving
- Vitamins & Minerals: between 10-25 percent of the Daily Value
Delicious dried fruits to have on hand include apricots, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, mango, pineapple, prunes or raisins.
Those from Nature’s Bakery contain stone-ground whole wheat and come in flavors ranging from apple cinnamon to raspberry to pumpkin spice and more.
Keep fruits that won’t spoil within a few days such as apples, oranges, bananas and pears.
Select snack bars that contain whole grains and protein to keep you full for a longer period of time. Stay away from those coated in chocolate or fruit glazes, as they contain more sugar and calories.
Low-fat granola can either be eaten plain, paired with low-fat/fat-free milk or sprinkled on top of a fruit and yogurt parfait for a healthy snack.
Nuts or seeds
Choose nuts and seeds that are raw instead of those that are roasted and salted to cut back on sodium and sugar.
Butters derived from peanuts, almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds and other nuts/seeds make for tasty food toppers. Don’t want to store an entire jar? Consider purchasing Justin’s Classic Almond Butter packs, Jif To Go cups or Smucker’s single serving peanut butter cups.
Oatmeal cups that only require the addition of water are typically higher in sugar. Instead, store your own old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats. Add mix-ins such as low-fat/fat-free yogurt, nut/seed butter, nuts, dried fruit or flax/chia seeds for a smarter snack choice.
These crunchy munchies are sure to be your new favorite. Check out this delicious recipe for a crunchy and (lightly) salted snack.
Popcorn is a healthful whole grain and is naturally low in both calories and fat. Opt for popcorn varieties that are air-popped, lightly salted or contain less butter.
Aim to select those that are unsalted and/or contain whole grains.
Rice cakes contain whole grains and come in a variety of delectable flavors. Lightly spread nut/seed butter on a lightly salted rice cake for a perfect combination of carbohydrates and protein.
Create your own by adding unsalted nuts or seeds, dried fruit, unsalted pretzels, popcorn, dried cereal and more. Go ahead, throw in some dark chocolate chips for a hint of sweetness.
Look for low-sodium chunk light tuna packed in water instead of oil. Place on top of whole-grain crackers as is or mixed with some light mayonnaise or mustard.
The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends making half of your daily grain intake come from whole grains. Whole-grain crackers contribute toward your daily consumption and taste great when paired with low-fat/part-skim cheese or tuna.
Channel your inner kid again by adding applesauce cups to your healthy snack drawer. Selecting unsweetened applesauce will help to reduce your sugar intake.
Lindsay MacNab, MS, is a registered dietitian, health nut and deep dish pizza addict from the wonderful windy city of Chicago. She was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs and received both her bachelor’s and master’s degree in Diet & Exercise from Iowa State University. She was a 2015-2016 dietetic intern at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Following her internship, Lindsay aspires to combine her passion for nutrition, writing and health and wellness into a nutrition communications career that she will love for a lifetime.