Snacking and healthful eating habits don’t always match up, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find goodies that are good for you. Try these tasty alternatives to packaged products, and see if you can’t find a new favorite.
Pick your craving
Snacks typically answer cravings, and cravings come in four basic varieties: creamy, crunchy, salty, and sweet. Science says that if you pick one craving to fulfill at a time, you can avoid the downsides of processed foods and the likelihood of eating more than you should. For creamy, try manageably sized pieces of soft cheese, such as mozzarella sticks or individually wrapped miniature wheels of edam. For crunchy, roast some chickpeas or vegetable chips. For salty, look for individual-serving packs of olives (not the ultra-salty pimiento-stuffed ones). For sweet and chewy, try raisins. Those single-serve boxes aren’t just for kids.
When the chips are down
Potato chips crank up the calories and fat—and as one brand famously points out, eating just one isn’t easy. Instead of the temptation of that big bag, switch to some do-it-yourself air-popped popcorn, a handful of almonds or other nuts, or some chip alternatives, including kale and seaweed snacks. If you absolutely can’t live without potato chips, read the nutrition facts on your favorite brand, and re-bag portion-controlled servings into snack bags so you can eat something from start to finish without overdoing it.
Baked, not fried
Improve the health value of your snacks with a change of methods or ingredients. Instead of fried chips, choose baked options. Swap out high-fat ice cream for low-fat frozen fruit, ice milk, or frozen yogurt. Replace cookies with rice cakes, graham crackers, or ginger snaps.
To save money and gain even more control over the ingredients in your treats, make them yourself. Slice and roast vegetables with a shake of salt-free spice. Melt dark chocolate, spear pieces of banana on a fork so you can dip, coat, and freeze them. Fill frozen-bar molds with cut fruit and plain yogurt for a cooling snack.
On the fence between snack and meal
You’ve been eyeing the leftover spaghetti in the fridge, thinking how yummy it would be instead of a snack, but it won’t leave room for dinner. To whip up a quick treat that gives you the enjoyment of pasta without the mega carbs and calories, try edamame spaghetti, zucchini spirals, or soy noodles. Top with a spritz of olive oil and some grated vegan cheese, or some chopped cherry tomatoes with a little basil.
Cake yourself out
Instead of losing a staring match with a big slice of chocolate cake or the corner piece out of a pan of brownies, treat yourself to angel food cake. Light and fluffy, it’s way lower in calories than traditional baked treats—and if you make it from a health-happy recipe, it’s even better. Serve it with some berries and eat with a smile.
Keep it simple and fresh
Fresh fruit contains sugar, but not the processed, refined kind you’ll find in packaged snacks. To switch up the eating experience, experiment with your presentation. Watermelon? Put it in the blender. Apples? Slice them and dip them in lemon juice so you can eat them slowly without them turning brown. Try firm-fleshed fruit such as Honeycrisp or Granny Smith so you can make your slices very thin, for a snack that takes longer to eat. Grapes? Try them frozen.
Yes, it takes a moment to prepare some of these healthful snack alternatives, but look at it this way: The time you invest in making something that’s good for you and your family is time you don’t have to spend regretting what you ate.
What are your favorite healthy snacks? Let us know—and use the hashtag #HancockHealthChallenge!