Whether you call it discipline or a slight case of OCD, we happen to be planners. And, we realize this can sometimes be an annoying quality, but we have found that when it comes to eating healthfully it is definitely easier to have a plan. When we don’t plan, we tend to resort to the quick “grab-what-you-can meals and snacks,” which unfortunately aren’t usually healthy choices!
In last week's coaching tip, we discussed the importance of making healthy eating the "easy" choice.
Snacks are a huge opportunity for all of us.
They help us maintain our energy levels, stay focused and productive, prevent overeating at mealtime and satisfy cravings. But…how many times do you find yourself wanting a snack and you are surrounded by nothing but bad choices? This may happen on the road (the closest convenience store or fast food restaurant starts calling your name), at work (the dreaded candy jar or vending machine), at the kids’ sporting events (the concession stand) or anywhere else you find yourself in need of a quick snack.
While opening up a bag of M&Ms or grabbing a hot dog is super-easy, you can resist these temptations with just a little planning. And, the best part is your healthy snacks will not only taste better, but the fiber and protein will keep you feeling satisfied longer (without the post-candy bar regret!).
Several studies have shown that snacking on processed foods (especially sugar and refined carbs) doesn’t fill you up...it actually leads to more…and more…snacking. A much better plan is to always be prepared with REAL food snack options!
So, if you are looking for some healthy snack ideas for yourself (or your kids), here are some ideas, including ideas for when you are on the go. Maybe you have tried some of these, but hopefully there will be a few new ones to add to your routine and your plan! (Print a list of the ideas below and keep on your frig for quick reference: REAL Food Snacks Eat REAL America PDF)
Super (REAL food) snack ideas:
- Apple slices: with natural peanut butter or other nut butter, or get a little more creative and make quesadillas. Recipe to check out: Apple Peanut Butter Quesadillas.
- Fruit and cheese kabobs: everything is more fun eaten on a stick! Use strawberries, grapes, cheese cubes, or whatever you are craving.
- Yogurt, fruit, and granola parfaits and salads: plain yogurt (Greek yogurt is a great option) with your favorite fruit, and then add crunch with homemade granola. Recipes to check out: Creamy Fruit Salad and Yogurt Fruit and Nutty Salad.
- Jerky (beef, turkey, etc.)…the fewer ingredients, the better!
- Ants on a log: celery, peanut butter and raisins
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Oranges or other in-season fruits
- Sweet Surprise Raspberries: add a small dark chocolate chip inside of a raspberry - perfect for Valentine’s Day!
- Pineapple Salsa
- Smoothies: as simple as adding frozen strawberries, a banana, and milk to a blender. Mix it up with your favorite fruits -- delicious quick breakfast too! Recipes to check out: Super Pink Strawberry Raspberry Smoothie and Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie.
- Sweet potato crisps: thinly slice sweet potatoes, add some olive oil, salt and pepper and bake until crisp. Parsnip fries are also a great idea, made the same way! Recipes to check out: Salt and Vinegar Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Parsnip Fries.
- Sweet Potato Toast: who knew you could cook sweet potato slices in the toaster?! Recipes to check out: Pear and Banana Sweet Potato Toast and Savory Smoked Salmon Sweet Potato Toast.
- Homemade Pudding: hidden REAL ingredients make them healthier! Make ahead for your week and store in small mason jars. Recipes to check out: Chocolate Peanut Butter Pudding and Mango Chia Seed Pudding.
- Apple chips: these take a little while to bake, but you can make your own dried apple chips!
- Yogurt popsicles: simply blend plain yogurt with your favorite fruit (add a little honey if you want), and freeze. You can make mini popsicles in an ice try with toothpick or pretzel stick handles. Recipe to check out: Red, White and Blueberry Popsicles!
- Roasted cauliflower: you won’t believe how easy and good this can be! Cut into bite size pieces, add a little olive oil, salt and pepper (adding ground cumin is great too!) and roast for 25-30 minutes. Recipe to check out: Curry Roasted Cauliflower.
- Edamame: you can find these packaged (frozen), ready to steam in the microwave, and then they are ready to enjoy!
- Homemade applesauce: check out our Maple Cinnamon Applesauce -- it's delicious!
- Guacamole or salsa: easy to make and enjoy all week long! Recipes to check out: Hatch Chile Guacamole or Salsa Fresca.
- Overnight oatmeal - ideal grab and go breakfast...and can be a delicious snack too, especially if made ahead in mason jars. Recipes to check out: Carrot Cake Overnight Oatmeal and Blueberry Maple Overnight Oatmeal.
More super snack ideas for when you are on the go (ideal for traveling, ball games and car rides):
- Dips with veggies: hummus is a great option…and serving great-tasting dips is a great way to get your kids to eat their veggies! Recipes to check out: Roasted Garlic White Bean Hummus, Avocado Hummus. and Garlic Dill Pickle Hummus.
- Air-popped popcorn: fantastic alternative to microwave popcorn – just add a little olive oil and sea salt. Popcorn is an excellent snack for road trips -- you can also jazz it up by making pizza flavored popcorn, a kettle korn version with honey and vanilla or drizzling melted dark chocolate. Recipe to check out: Dark Chocolate Drizzled Popcorn (see the quick tip in this recipe for other flavor combinations).
- Trail mix: mix your favorite nuts with dried fruit such as cranberries or raisins. Plus, you can satisfy your sweet tooth by adding some dark chocolate chips!
- Roasted nuts and seeds: add flavor with a little honey, maple syrup, herbs and/or spices. Recipes to check out: Spiced Mixed Nuts and Birdseed Snack Mix.
- Homemade granola: a great snack to add to fruit and yogurt, or eat it all by itself! Recipes to check out: Cranberry Coconut Granola, Pumpkin Spice Granola, and Banana Dark Chocolate Granola, to name a few.
- Energy Balls: these make a great grab-and-go breakfast, snack or even dessert. Recipes to check out: No Bake Chocolate Energy Balls and Almond Butter Bites - they are both crazy good!
- Breakfast Cookies: not just for breakfast, these also make a great snack! Recipe to check out: Chunky Monkey Breakfast Cookies.
For even more ideas, select "snacks ideas" from the Eat REAL America menu bar. We hope this makes it a little easier to make smart REAL food choices when you need a snack, whether at home or on the go!
Do you have great-tasting REAL food snack ideas that make your life easier?
We would love to hear from you! Please let us know so we can share with other Eat REAL America members!