Struggling for easy, healthy snack ideas? I hear ya! Sometimes we all need a little inspiration, hopefully these ten healthy snack ideas will do the trick for you.
Oh, and just so we’re clear, I call them “healthy snacks” but what I really mean is that they’re healthier than a lot of the alternatives. They’re good, but as I constantly need to remind myself, they’re snacks and do require some moderation.
My Top Ten Healthy Snack Ideas
1. Veggies & Hummus/Tzatziki/Guacamole
Veggies are definitely my number one go to snack. Whether it’s for the kids, the school party or a potluck dinner – I always bring veggies.
Need that snack to go? No prob, put your favorite dip and a handful of veggies in a jam jar and you’re on your way. Make ahead for extra convenience.
Tip: Prep a big batch of veggies for several days to save time and have them easily accessible. Snackers will reach for whatever is easy and convenient!
2. Fruit & Cheese/Nut Butter
Fruit is another snacking staple in my house. Sure fruits are high in natural sugars, but they’re also high in vitamins and nutrients. I’d rather have my family snacking on fruit than a lot of other things I can think of.
When possible, pair fruit with some sort of protein source like nut butter, cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt or oatmeal to help keep snackers satisfied longer.
And don’t forget, frozen fruit counts too! My daughter loves snacking on frozen blueberries.
Tip: The closer the fruit is to it’s original whole fruit form the better. Drying and juicing concentrate the sugars and remove some of the nutrients that we get from whole fruit (eg. fibre). Save dried apple rings, homemade fruit leather and juice for occasional treats.
Did you know popcorn is a whole grain. Yup, 2 cups of popcorn is a serving of whole grain. Of course, the key to keeping it healthy is not to drown it in butter and salt!
Here are some recipes for homemade popcorn seasoning (Chili Cheese, Chili Lime and Smoky BBQ) to spice things up a little. Another option is nutritional yeast. It adds nutrients and a savory “umami” flavor to popcorn. If you’re not familiar with it, here’s a great explanation on What the Heck is Nutritional Yeast from FatFree Vegan Kitchen.
Tip: Stick to air popped or stove top popcorn for the best popcorn and of course, go light on the toppings.
4. Homemade Baking
Calling homemade baking a healthy snack may be a stretch, but it certainly can be much better than store bought alternatives. With homemade, we get to control ingredients and portion size making it at least a healthier alternative.
These Nutty Cranberry Oat Muffins are a good example. They’re made with whole grain large flake oats, whole wheat, nuts, cranberries, reduced sugar and buttermilk in place of some of the fat. And they’re a third of the size of most commercial muffins. I’ve got no problem with my kids snacking on these.
Here are some other muffins, loaves and even a chocolate chip cookie that are a healthier alternative to many store bought baked goods.
Tip: Don’t buy stuff you don’t want to eat. If there are no donuts, Oreos or chips in the house, there’s no temptation.
5.Whole Grain Wraps or Crackers with Cheese
Whole grain wraps, crackers or crisp bread paired with cheese, hummus, nut butters and/or veggies are another common snack in our house. Here’s crisp bread with a high protein Ricotta Herb Spread and a sprinkling of pepitas, sunflower seeds and hemp seeds with a side of veggies.
Just for fun, check out these St. Patrick’s day snacks that feature spinach wraps with cheese, spinach and green wraps in a shamrock shape.
Tips: Look for whole grain crackers, wraps or crisp bread whenever possible. On the ingredient list look for: “whole grain wheat” (or whatever grain) or “whole grain wheat flour”.
6. Nuts & Seeds
I love the taste and texture of nuts and seeds. I also love that they provide protein, vitamins, minerals, fat and fiber. The only problem is – I could eat them all day, way more than the 1/4 cup of nuts per day that’s often recommended. But they’re a high energy (calorie) food, so unless I’m doing more than recipe testing or sitting at my desk – I gotta tame my nut consumption! One way I’m trying to do that is to pair nuts with other snacks like fruits and veggies or using a little nut butter on fruit or crisp bread so I can enjoy the nuttiness in moderation.
If you’re looking for a nut free alternative try these Oven Roasted Spiced Chickpeas. Not only are they great for nut free environments, they’re tasty and super filling.
7. Chocolate Treats
Who doesn’t love chocolate? And now that studies show that chocolate can be healthy, let’s dig in! Right?! Of course it’s not that simple. It’s important to note that these studies refer to 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate (70%+ of cocoa). That’s about one square of typical dark chocolate bar – not the whole bar! In other words, as in all things, moderation is key.
One way to extend that chocolate ration is to use it in combination with other snacks, like chocolate covered fruit, chocolate covered pretzels, chocolate chip oat cookies, or these chocolate haystacks made with slivered almonds, fibre bud cereal and dried cranberries.
Tip: It’s a good idea to mix and match food groups to get a variety of tastes, textures, colors, nutrients and vitamins.
8. Boiled, Fried, Poached or Scrambled Eggs
Eggs are an excellent, inexpensive source of high quality protein and nutrients. They’re also very filling and go very nicely with whole grain breads and veggies. Boiled eggs are super handy as grab and go snacks.
My hubby doesn’t cook very often, but eggs are so fast and easy to whip up, even he’ll make a plate of eggs for a mid morning snack.
Tip: Make a batch of boiled eggs to last an entire week and grab them when you’re hauling kids from one activity to the other. Beats take-out food by a long shot.
9. Granola & Energy Bars
A big word of caution here. Granola bars and energy bars are high calorie foods invented for the sole purpose of providing energy (ie. calories) in small, convenient, easy to eat packages. The variety of bars on the market place today is staggering and most are so high in sugar and other crap that it’s hard to classify them as a healthy snack. The best we can do is buy the healthiest option or make them ourselves so that we’re in control of the ingredients.
Here’s a great article from friend and Registered Dietitian Jessica Penner on Choosing Granola Bars. She offers brand name suggestions so you can see exactly which are her top 5 picks.
If you want to make your own bars, here are a couple of my own recipes followed by recipes from two other friends and Registered Dietitians.
Lunch Power Bars 3 Ways – by Carol Harrison, RD Yummy Lunch Club
No Bake Granola Bar – by Nita Sharda, RD Carrots & Cake
Tip: Choose granola bars and energy bars on days when you’re super active.
10. Water, Lemon Water and Herbal Tea
Perhaps this should be number one on the list, since staying hydrated is an important part of overall healthy eating. It’s also a great way to curb the urge to snack just because you’re bored. Clear, refreshing, no calorie, no additive water is ideal.
My daughter and I like adding a squirt of lemon or lime juice when filling up our water bottles. When we want to get fancy we infuse our water with some combination of cucumbers, mint, citrus, berries, or lemon balm. And when we’re looking for something to warm us up, a nice cup of herbal tea is our go to beverage of choice. We especially like this fruity homemade blend.
Did you know that in Canada 44% of sugar intake of kids and adolescents and 35% of adults comes from beverages such as pop, fruit juice, fruit beverages and milk? Source: Sugar Consumption Among Canadians of All Ages Replacing high calorie sweetened beverages with water or caffeine free tea is a much healthier option.
Tip: Avoid buying sweetened beverages and having them in your house, if they’re not around, you’re not going to drink them!
Well, that’s my top ten list of healthy snack ideas or should I say healthier snacks. Now that I’ve shared my list, what are some of your favorite, easy healthy snack ideas?
Looking for more? Check out these articles by Carol and Nita, two Registered Dietitians I greatly admire and respect for their practical, real life approach to food and nutrition.
Snacks: What, Why and When – Nita Sharda, RD – Carrots and Cake
What Makes a Healthy Snack – Carol Harrison, RD – Yummy Lunch Club
Happy, healthy snacking!
Sign up to get articles by Getty delivered to your inbox. You’ll get recipes, practical tips and great food information like this. Getty is a Professional Home Economist, speaker and writer putting good food on tables and agendas. She is the author of Manitoba’s best-selling Prairie Fruit Cookbook, Founder of Fruit Share, a mom and veggie gardener.