Between-meal noshes don’t have to be pre-packaged — a banana, edamame, or even dried fruit can be just as satisfying. Seven of our own nutrition experts share their delicious snack solutions.
Eat plenty of colorful vegetables (experts suggest 2 1/2 cups of fresh vegetables daily) to assure a healthy mix of nutrients for relatively few calories. And snack time is an ideal time to ramp up those veggie servings you may have missed at another meal. Sweet and crunchy sliced bell peppers and carrots were winners in this category (homemade hummus optional!). You can also buy pre-cut carrots, celery and cucumbers from the produce area, which can shave a little prep time at home to allow you to pack some almond butter (or pick up a single-serve packet) for dipping. For a twist, steamed edamame tossed with a touch of flaky salt also makes a good snack.
Pack a piece of fruit
Our nutrition pros suggested fruits most often, probably for their satisfying sweetness and also because we all need 2 cups daily (which provide potassium, fiber, and vitamin C). Their suggestions: Keep it simple, keep it small and stick with tried-and-true travelers if portability is an issue. One pro always packs an apple or banana in her purse. Other good (under 100-calories-per-serving) fruit options: two small tangerines, or one small (6-ounce) container of raspberries, or one small banana. A smear of nut butter can add a little heft to bananas and apples if needed. Dried fruits are snackable, too, but watch portions as they aren’t as filling as their fresh, water-filled counterparts and the calories add up easily with the concentrated source of sugar. Make your own dried stone fruit strips or baked apple chips. One expert’s crunchy craving is satisfied with a few unsweetened banana chips dipped in nut butter; another pro suggested dates smeared with tahini. Both options combine carbohydrates with some filling protein.
Tailor your own trail mix
Trail mix has the appeal of being crunchy; filling; inclusive of grains, fruits and nuts; plus it can be eaten as-is or dressed up with non-fat yogurt. Several pros like making their own trail mix to assure you keep it “protein and fiber-filled” with a mix of almonds, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds and coconut flakes. Keep portions in mind because the dried fruits and nuts are highly caloric, so 1/4-cupful of a trail mix can easily have up to 150 calories. Here’s a smart, easy trail mix that incorporates popcorn and can be pre-portioned and ready to go when you are.
Try a whole-grain snack
For those hard-to-ignore salty, crunchy snack urges, our pros recommend popcorn. The benefits: Popcorn is a whole-grain, and, when it’s not covered in buttery toppings, it can actually be a calorie-conscious snack with about 120 calories in 3 cups of a popped low-fat, microwavable option. Here’s how to make your own if the snack attack hits at home, or you can buy the 365 Everyday Valueã Reduced-Salt popcorn or individual bags of popcorn (such as Skinny Pop) for traveling or built-in portion control.
Stay tuned for more healthy cooking tips, ideas and inspiration from our nutrition pros, including Kylie Bentley, RDN, LDN, Exclusive Brands Product Compliance and Nutrition Analyst; Carla Conrad, MS, RD Senior Product Developer; Jess Kolko, RDN, LD, Nutrition Senior Research Analyst; Dani Little, MS, RD, Engine 2 Program Director; Jacqueline Mooney, Nutrition Data Management Analyst; Allison (Enke) Sloma, MA, RD Sr. Product Compliance & Nutrition Analyst; and Akua Woolbright, Nutrition Program Director Whole Cities Foundation.