Need some healthy snack ideas? If you’re stuck in a snacking rut and could use a couple of ideas, this post is for you.
I have come to accept that snacking is part of my daily routine, especially around 2 pm while sitting in front of the computer! Why fight it? Why pretend it doesn’t exist only to end up eating crappy snack food scrounged up at the last minute. I know when I plan, shop and prep for my snacking, I make way better choices.
What Does Healthy Snacking Look Like
To me, healthy snacking means choosing foods made from nutrient rich, minimally processed foods; the same foods we base our meals around. Think veggies, fruits, whole grains and protein foods – just like Canada’s new Food Guide recommends. When snacking, I try to mix and match foods from the categories as shown in the chart below. Notice I’ve included all kinds of foods including those we may not traditionally think of as “snack” foods. That’s because there are no rules that say you can’t eat chicken at snack time or a bowl of oatmeal at two in the afternoon. The idea is to eat a combination of foods that will boost your energy, keep you feeling satisfied and that you enjoy. So go ahead eat last night’s stew as a snack!
Healthy Snack Ideas
When put into action, here’s what the mix and match approach looks like in my house.
Veggies and Dip – When we have prepared veggies and dip ready to eat in the fridge – they never last long! Adding a healthy, protein rich dip helps ensure long lasting energy. Some dip ideas include hummus, Greek yogurt herb dip, tzatziki, white bean dip, ricotta cheese dip, etc.
Fruit and Cheese or Nut Butter – Fruit is another easy snacking staple. And, just like veggies, they provide more long-lasting energy when paired with nut butter, cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt or oatmeal. This chocolate avocado pudding doubles as a great dip for fruit. This fruit and yogurt parfait with homemade granola is great for breakfast or snack time.
Popcorn – Did you know two 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, instead try low salt seasonings or nutritional yeast flakes to flavor your popcorn.
Nuts and Seeds – Nuts and seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, chia, flax, hemp) are super filling and are a good source of protein, vitamins, minerals, fat and fiber. They’re a nutritious addition or side to other foods (eg. add flax or hemp to fruit smoothies). Just remember, they’re high in calories, so watch portion size and stick to a small handful. Try these seedy chocolate energy bites.
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. Check out this article for easy peel, hard cooked eggs.
Pulses – Pulses such as chickpeas, lentils, beans, and peas are packed with protein, fiber, antioxidants, B vitamins, and iron. They are also very affordable and super filling. Their new-found popularity means there are tons of new recipes for using beans in dips, smoothies, baking, quesadillas and wraps. This roasted chickpea recipe is perfect for satisfying any crunchy, salty cravings.
Whole Grains & Oats – Oats and whole grains provide fibre, nutrients and long-lasting energy. Whole grain crackers, wraps, pancakes and breads are good when combined with protein sources like tuna, nut butter, bean dip and cheese. Look for bread, crackers or granola bars where the first ingredient is a whole grain and the fibre content is at least 2 grams per serving for bread and crackers and 5 grams per serving for granola bars. Ideally, sugar and sodium amounts should be low too. One of my favorites is Ryvita Whole Grain Snack Bread or toasted frozen homemade pancakes or French Toast covered in nut butter and low sugar freezer jam.
Home baked Goods – Home baked treats are typically smaller and healthier than commercial alternatives. They can be made even healthier by using whole grain flour and oats, reducing sugar, reducing fat and adding nutrient rich ingredients like flax, wheat germ, bran, hemp hearts, apple sauce, etc. Check out some of my favorite home baked goods.
A Word About Water and Beverages
We know that staying hydrated goes a long way to keeping hunger pangs at bay and nurturing your body. That’s why Canada’s new Food Guide recommends making water without any additives your number one beverage choice.
That recommendation makes sense to me and I’m trying really hard to drink more water – just plain water. But it’s kinda boring, so I often make herbal tea or add lemon slices to jazz it up. How are you doing with drinking more water?
When you drink milk, juice, smoothies or other beverages that can be grouped in one of the three areas (veggies & fruit, protein or whole grain) count them as part of that food category and consider them as part of your overall calorie and nutrient count. Don’t discount them, just because they’re a beverage. Drink coffee and black tea in moderation. And of course, try to avoid soda, sweet powdered drinks, fruit cocktails, alcohol and other beverages that don’t offer any benefits at all. I treat these like treats – they have a time and a place, but the more rare the better.
Now it’s your turn, what are your favorite snacks? Do you have a time of day that brings you to your knees if you don’t have a snack? Leave a comment or tag me on social media with your comments. I’m on instagram @getgettys and Facebook @GettyStewart.HomeEconomist.
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.
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