Snacking is an important part of a balanced diet. Eating regular snacks throughout the day can help to boost energy levels and maintain concentration, while keeping blood sugar levels stable. Though it can be tempting to reach for unhealthy snacks when hunger strikes, taking the time to make smarter snacking choices is important. By choosing healthy snacks that are full of nutrients, you get the satisfaction of a tasty treat without having to worry about excess calories or unhealthy ingredients.
Finding the right balance between nutritious snacks and tasty treats is key, and this guide will provide you with all the information and resources you need to make smart snack choices and nourish your body throughout the day.
Nutrient Dense Snacks
Nourishing your body throughout the day doesn’t have to mean eating boring food or snacking on unsatisfying snacks. Eating nutrient dense snacks can provide your body with important and essential vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, and sugars that it needs for energy. In general, there is no standard minimum nutrient density requirement for a snack to be considered healthy; however, aim for at least 0.5 to 1 ounce of nutrient dense food per snack.
Nutrient dense foods are those that are packed with essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. These include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, nuts, and seeds. These foods give you the most nutrition in the smallest portions. The list of nutrient-dense snacks is endless, but some common items include a handful of nuts, fresh fruit, Greek yogurt with granola, hummus and vegetable sticks, low-fat cheese and crackers, dried fruit, dark chocolate, and a boiled egg.
Keep in mind that even though some snacks may be nutrient dense, it’s important to be mindful about portion size. If you eat too much of one item, it will quickly become unhealthy, so make sure your snacks are not larger than your fist.
Satisfying Cravings with Healthier Alternatives
Having a delicious snack can be incredibly satisfying, especially when your body is craving something sweet or salty. But when it comes to what types of snacks we reach for, making the right choices will be beneficial for both our health and taste buds. Rather than opting for processed foods filled with sugars, salts or fats, there are plenty of healthier alternatives that can provide us with nourishment while also satisfying our cravings. Below we will explore some of these options.
Nuts & Seeds
One of the best sources of healthy fats, nuts and seeds make a great snack choice. They are packed with proteins, fibres, minerals and healthy fats, making them a nutrient-dense snack option. Just a small handful of nuts or seeds can provide sustenance and keep us feeling full until the next meal. Almonds, cashews, peanuts, pistachios and walnuts are just some of the options available.
Fresh or Dried Fruit
Fruits are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, which can all contribute to helping the body stay healthy. Fresh fruits like apples, bananas, oranges, grapes, kiwi and pears make great options for snacking. For those looking to curb a sweet tooth, adding a few dried fruits like cranberries, prunes, apricots, raisins or dates can also do the trick.
Whole grains are an essential part of a nutritious diet. Foods like oats, quinoa or brown rice are loaded with essential minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. Served with unsweetened yogurt or some fresh fruits, they can make for a filling snack that can easily satisfy hunger. Whole grain crackers or breads can also be a great option. Just bear in mind that some commercial varieties might contain added sugars or salts, so reading the labels first is recommended.
Healthy Fats & Oils
Including healthy fats in our diet is necessary for good health. Healthy snacks such as olives, olive oil, avocados, hummus, nut butters or chia seed pudding can offer an array of beneficial nutrients and help to boost our intake of healthy fats. Choosing snacks containing healthy oils like coconut, sesame or flaxseed oil can also help to keep our tastebuds happy.
Shopping Tips for Healthy Snacking
Doing your weekly grocery shopping can be overwhelming; it’s easy to get caught up in all the different types of snacks available and over-buy! To help make the process easier, here are some simple tips for finding healthy snacks at the store:
- Stick to the Perimeter: Grocery stores typically organize their shelves where healthier items like fruits, vegetables, and lean meats are grouped along the perimeter. Try to focus on these products as much as possible when snacking.
- Check the Nutrition Label: Although a food may look healthy, be sure to take some time to read the label before purchasing it. Look for high-quality ingredients with low amounts of sugar, salt, fat, and processed ingredients.
- Go For Whole Foods: The most nutritious snacks are usually made of unprocessed ingredients that give your body more of the nutrients it needs. Whole foods such as nuts, seeds, and fruits are always a great choice.
- Plan Your Snacks: Before you enter the store, think about what snacks you want to include in your grocery list. This will help you stay focused during your shopping trip – and keep you from buying unhealthy snacks out of impulse.
- Consider Online Shopping: Another option is to shop online for snacks. That way, you can take the time to properly research each snack and compare labels before committing to purchase.
By following these tips, you’ll be able to find healthier options to satisfy your cravings. Implementing a few simple strategies can ensure that you get the most out of your shopping trips and make better snacking decisions!
Kitchen Prep for Quick Snack Preparation
Snacking on the go can be a real challenge. Finding quick, easy and healthy snacks can be difficult to do when you have a busy schedule. Whether you’re running errands between work or school or trying to make ends meet on the weekends, having snacks prepared ahead of time is essential. By taking the time to prepare a few items in advance, you’ll be able to enjoy nourishing snacks without having to sacrifice your time or your health.
Some great items to make in advance include:
- Trail mix featuring nuts, seeds and dried fruits
- Energy bars
- Flavoured nut blends
- Dips such as hummus, black bean dip, and salsa
- Fruit or veggie smoothies
These items can be easily made in large batches and frozen in individual portions for grab-and-go snacking whenever you need it. Making these items ahead of time also makes them more accessible when cravings hit – so you won’t resort to less nutritious snacks. So, next time you’re planning meals for the week, take some extra time to make snacks that can be kept in the fridge or freezer for you to enjoy throughout the week.
Home-made Healthier Takes on Unhealthy Favorites
Craving a snack that’s both delicious and nutritious? Don’t worry, with a bit of creativity you can make healthier versions of your less-nutritious favorites! To get started, try some of these ideas.
- Replace chocolate chips with dark chocolate chunks in your favorite cookie recipe
- Swap traditional breadcrumbs for a combination of ground almonds and coconut flakes for a crunchy coating on fish
- Substitute regular potato chips with baked sweet potato chips or kale chips
- Try swapping oil or butter in recipes for avocado, mashed banana or nut butters
- For a savory snack, trade in chips for whole wheat crackers topped with hummus
- Bake zucchini or beets into homemade chips instead of using store-bought
- Make a tasty trail mix by combining nuts, dark chocolate, seeds, dried fruit and popcorn
By making subtle changes to typical snack ingredients, you can enjoy all the taste without the guilt. The possibilities are endless when it comes to preparing healthier snacks, so don’t be afraid to experiment!
Healthy Snack Ideas for Special Diets
Eating healthily is important for everyone; however, those with special dietary needs might feel some difficulty finding snacks that fit into their diets. Whether your diet is vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, or sugar-free, there are many delicious and nourishing options available that can help you satisfy your cravings. Here are some ideas to help you out.
- Fresh fruit: Fruit is packed with essential vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber to keep you full and satisfied. Choose from a wide variety of seasonal fruits such as apples, bananas, peaches, grapes, berries, and more.
- Hummus and vegetables: Hummus is a vegan snack made from pureed chickpeas and other simple ingredients. It’s an excellent source of protein and can be enjoyed with carrot and celery sticks, cucumbers, and other crunchy veggies.
- Nut butter on whole grain bread: Nut butter is a great source of healthy fats, protein, and fiber. If you’re not allergic to wheat, enjoy it on top of whole grain bread slices or even a rice cake.
- Trail mix: Trail mix is a versatile snack since it can be customized to fit any particular dietary need. Combine whatever nuts, seeds, and dried fruit you prefer to make your own unique mix.
- Kale chips: Kale is packed with vitamins A, C, and K, as well as fiber and other minerals. Make your own kale chips at home with just a few simple ingredients, or buy pre-made versions from the store.
In addition to these snack ideas, look for recipes online or in cookbooks that fit your dietary needs. There are many creative and delicious options that are both healthful and satisfying.
Snack Safety Tips
When it comes to snacking, food safety is just as important as choosing nutritious options. Make sure to properly store snacks and keep them fresh to avoid contamination or spoilage. Refrigerate perishables, such as fruits, vegetables and dairy-based snacks, and store away from raw meats. When eating pre-cooked snacks, especially when eating out, verify that the food was cooked according to health standards. Additionally, make sure to thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables before consuming.
It’s a good idea to invest in reusable air-tight containers or bags for snacks that need to be stored. Keep snacks in their containers until consumed to avoid cross-contamination from other foods.
Take extra precautions when packing snacks for school or work – include a cold pack if necessary to keep perishable snacks fresh.
Ensure everyone in the family is aware of these snack safety tips and practice them regularly.
Recipes For Flavoured Nuts, Dips, and Energy Bars
Snacking doesn’t have to mean reaching for unhealthy options. With a few simple recipes, you can make tasty snacks that are both satisfying and nourishing.
Flavoured nuts are easy to make and can be a nutritious snack. To make them, simply mix your choice of nuts with seasoning and then bake until crispy. Some flavour combinations to try include cinnamon and coconut sugar, maple syrup and chilli powder, or herb and garlic.
Dips are also a great snack option. Create your own hummus with chickpeas, garlic, olive oil, tahini, and lemon juice, or make a yoghurt dip with Greek yoghurt, honey, and spices. Serve with crunchy vegetables like celery, carrot sticks, capsicum, and cucumber.
Energy bars are easy to make at home. Mix together nuts, seeds, dried fruit, coconut flakes, and oats, and then press into a pan. You can also add peanut butter, honey, or chocolate chips for a sweet treat.
By dedicating some time to preparing nutritious snacks, you will be well on your way to snacking smarter and better nourishing your body.
Proper Portion Control
It’s easy to make unhealthy snacks part of a habit, but it’s important to remember that snacking in moderation is key for a healthy lifestyle. Over-indulging can lead to problems like weight gain and other health issues. The good news is that you don’t have to completely cut out unhealthy snacks. Snacking smarter means understanding the recommended serving size and practicing portion control.
The recommended serving size for snacks can vary depending on the type of food. For instance, a serving size of chips is just 10-15 chips or 15g. Serving sizes for nuts can range from one-half cup to one cup depending on the nut. For fresh fruits, a single serving is usually one piece or a small bowl of cut up fruit.
It’s important to stick to the recommended serving size when snacking to make sure you’re not over-indulging and that you’re getting the maximum benefit from the food. Even if you choose a healthy snack option, over-eating healthy foods can still have negative effects on your body. So, keeping portion control in mind is always important.
Getting Kids Excited About Healthy Snacking
It can be tough to get kids excited about healthy snacking, particularly when they are surrounded by unhealthy snacks. Fortunately, there are some easy strategies that parents can use to make healthier snacking choices more fun and enjoyable for their children.
One of the best ways to inspire kids to snack healthily is by turning it into a game. For example, create a colour-coded snack chart with different coloured boxes to represent different kinds of nutrients (protein, fibre, etc.). Encourage them to fill their plate with different coloured snacks to meet their daily nutrition goals. This makes healthy snacking feel like an interactive game rather than a chore.
Including kids in the shopping process can also help to make healthy snacking more enjoyable. They can pick out snacks that look delicious while you point out the nutritional value of each item. Speak with them about why certain snacks are healthier than others, and try to make sure that the snack selection at home includes more nutritious food options than less healthy ones.
If your child has a sweet tooth, try to bake healthier treats together or find sugar-free alternatives. Create smoothie bowls with lots of fruits and vegetables, make popcorn balls with protein-rich sources like nuts and nut butter, or serve up baked apples with cinnamon and Stevia as a sweet after-dinner snack. Find creative and healthy ways to appeal to their sweeter side.
Finally, making healthy snacks readily available and easily accessible can help to encourage your child to reach for the better option. Keep a bowl of fresh fruit on the countertop or pantry shelves so it’s the first thing your child reaches for both when they’re hungry and when they’re bored.
Healthy snacking isn’t always a simple task, but it doesn’t have to be difficult either. By following these simple strategies, parents can take the hassle out of healthy snacking and make it a fun and enjoyable experience for their kids.
When it comes to healthy snacking, it’s possible to satisfy cravings without compromising nutrition. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can explore a range of nourishing options that will help you stay on top of your health goals. Snacks don’t have to be dull and boring – with nutrient dense ingredients, healthier alternatives, quick preparation tips and special diet considerations, you can discover a variety of flavours and textures that will keep you energized and satisfied.
It’s also important to remember that portion control is key when it comes to snacking. Eating the right amount can help you to maintain a healthy weight and get the most out of your snack. Lastly, if you have children, getting them excited about healthy snacks can be a challenge – there are a number of great strategies that you can use to make sure they are eating nourishing options that will keep them fueled throughout their day.