When I stop and think about the fat and calories in the snacks I love, I do one of two things: I either vow to never snack again, or I think, “Forget it, I’ll just eat whatever I want and not care!” Neither reaction is smart or realistic, is it? The smart and realistic thing to do, then, is to find healthy and tasty options for snacking, and believe it or not, there are plenty of them. In fact, most nutritionists say that snacks should be part of a healthy eating plan. You should eat every three hours or so to keep you blood sugar levels steady. Having well-spaced and nutritious snacks will also prevent you from becoming ravenous and overeating at mealtimes.
So here are some snack ideas that are almost like freebies. Even though they’re not exactly calorie free (if only!), they won’t load you down with calories and bad fats. Let’s say they’re as close as you can get to a snacking freebie!
- Popcorn: Of course downing a tub of butter-drenched popcorn at the movies will more than use up your total calorie allotment for the day, but popcorn is really a healthy snack if you make your own in an air popper. And talk about economical snacking! An air popper is fairly inexpensive, and a bag of popcorn kernels will cost about a dollar and make many batches of popcorn. The best part is you can flavor it up yourself and savor every bite. Get some delicious ideas here.
- Veggies and Hummus: Vegetables and dip satisfy your craving for crunch and flavor, and hummus is an excellent choice for a dip when you’re looking for healthy snacks. To make this an easy snack to grab, keep a few day’s worth of vegetables washed and cut up in your refrigerator, and you won’t be as tempted to reach for a bag of chips. You can find many varieties of hummus almost anywhere, but if you want to save a few bucks and be in control of your ingredients, you can easily make your own.
- Roasted Chickpeas: Once you’re eating, you might as well get some important nutrients, and chickpeas are an excellent source of protein, iron, and fiber. Roast them and you get a tasty snack with a satisfying crunch. Here are instructions on how to make them, along with lots of seasoning ideas, but those are just suggestions. Get creative and use whatever seasonings you like.
- Frozen Fruit: You can find some pretty good low-cal ice creams and sometimes they do the trick. Other times you want to nibble and frozen fruit can help you with that. You need to plan ahead a little for this one so the fruit is frozen when you want to eat it, but you can freeze almost any fruit for a delicious frozen treat. Make it slightly more indulgent by melting an ounce of dark chocolate for dipping. Enjoy it and don’t feel guilty at all. An ounce of dark chocolate actually has health benefits and will not sabotage your dieting efforts.
- Apple and Nut Butter: This is a personal favorite for when I want something sweet. An apple is crisp and juicy and makes a perfect snack on its own, but sometimes you want a fruit snack with a little pizzazz. That’s when you slice it up and take it to the next level with some nut butter. Don’t limit yourself to peanut butter; almond butter, cashew butter, and hazelnut butter are all delicious and though high in fat (time for moderation and portion control again!), it’s the good fat. Nuts also contain protein, fiber, iron, vitamin E, and calcium.
These are just a few of many ideas for light, healthy snacks that are easy to prepare. Nibble away!