Eating healthy snacks is an important part of my daily diet. I say healthy because if I don’t chose the right kinds of things to snack on I could be adding needless calories and fat into my diet. Not to mention if I eat processed snacks, chemicals and preservatives are entering my body which can lead to cancer, heart disease and other illnesses I definitely want to avoid at all costs. So I stick to my fab five snacks that make me feel satisfied and keep me healthy.
1. Nuts- they’re one of my daily snacks and I can’t live without them. They fill me up because of the fiber and they have healthy monounsaturated fat that can reduce my risk of cardiovascular disease. Here’s another awesome thing about nuts- because the protein and fiber are relatively hard to digest, about 1/4 of the calories in nuts don’t get digested. That’s like free calories! And here’s the best thing, after eating a handful of nuts, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the next three percent of calories you ingest in 24 hours are indigestible. So say you consume another 1000 calories during the day, 30 of them won’t be ingested. That’s awesome, isn’t it? Nuts are my absolute favorite healthy snack!
2. Bananas and peanut butter-I love this snack choice and actually eat this for breakfast quite often. Half a banana and a tablespoon of peanut butter has 140 calories and 4.5 grams of protein. Bananas are a nutritional power house being very high in vitamin B6 and high in vitamin C, manganese, potassium, dietary fiber, biotin and copper. Here’s the thing about peanut butter for me, I’ve tried to love all natural types of peanut butter and almond butter and I just don’t like it. I’ve probably tried 10 different brands, and the only one I like is Smart Balance. It tastes the most like the Skippy I grew up on. Experiment and see if you can find one you like. If you can’t find one and you have to eat your Skippy, as long as you carefully measure your tablespoon (because I tend to eat a huge spoonful if I don’t measure) and stick to it you should be fine.
3. Tortilla chips and salsa- I probably eat this snack 4 or 5 times a week because I’m more of a salty and spicy food lover. As I mentioned in an earlier blog post I always make sure that I use gluten free, non gmo, organic tortilla chips and again watch your portion size. One serving, serving size varies according to which chips you eat, contains approximately 140 calories and 2 grams of fiber. The salsa is the real healthy star of this snack though. A cup of salsa, which sounds like a lot I know, provides 57% daily intake of vitamin C, 71% vitamin A, and 10 grams of fiber. I either make my own or in a pinch I use the Herdez medium salsa. I portion out a cup of salsa in a bowl, crumble the tortilla chips on top and eat it like gazpacho with a spoon. That way I’m filling up on the super healthy part which is the salsa, but still getting the salty crunch of the tortilla chips. It’s really good too!
4. Apple and peanut butter- This is similar to the previously mentioned banana and peanut butter. Apples are one of the healthiest fruits around when consumed whole with the skin on. However, they are also one of the most pesticide laden of the fruits so I only eat organic apples. Apples have a good amount of fiber- 4 grams, they’re low calorie with only 95 calories for a medium apple, provide 17% US RDA of Vitamin C, have the highest amount of antioxidants of any fruit (which lowers your risk of heart disease), and have quercetin, which is an antioxidant that is thought to boost your workout endurance if an apple is eaten prior to a workout.
5. Popcorn- I love popcorn as anyone who knows me can attest. It’s got fiber, 4 grams in 3 cups, but the best thing about it is the polyphenols in it. They exist in plant foods and help neutralize free radicals, which are the bad things that damage cells and contribute to rapid aging. Popcorn has more polyphenols than any other plant food including most fruits- impressive! I purchase organic popping corn in bulk from my local healthy food grocery store and it’s relatively inexpensive. Key to keeping popcorn healthy though is in the preparation. I NEVER eat microwave popcorn as I’ve heard enough bad things about it to scare me off, I always pop it on the stove with canola oil, which adds good heart healthy monounsaturated fat to popcorn. I never use flavored salts because they tend to have chemicals in them, I just use sea salt and sometimes add a little butter. I have this gadget my step mom got me years ago called a Whirly Pop that is a metal pot with a handle that turns the popcorn inside so it doesn’t burn the kernels. It makes me feel like a professional to use it so I use it all the time. I probably eat popcorn 3-4 times per week, and I love every bite of it. One cup has approximately 78 calories which makes it a low calorie snack. That makes me love popcorn even more if that is possible.
I hope this list of snacks helps give you some ideas when you’re hungry and need a quick, delicious and healthy snack.