Pretty much without fail, at 10:00 a.m. and 2:45 p.m., my stomach starts growling. After having carefully-planned, proportionately appropriate, nutritionally balanced breakfasts or lunch, it seems a shame to blow all of that with a bag of potato chips. But that's what I'll do, if I don't have a snack that tastes good. I have found out the hard way that a bag of carrot sticks is not going to do it. So what is my solution? This list of 24 healthy, yet delicious, snacks.
Why finish with something sweet when you can start there?
1. Mini Peppers
Bags of these multi-colored, vitamin A and C-packed little peppers now show up in most grocery stores and at they are super-handy and delicious. Three peppers only have 25 calories. I love them just by themselves, but if you need a dip, try plain greek yogurt.
I know this is silly, but if I take an apple to work, it will sit on my desk. But if I cut it into slices and put it into a Ziploc with a dab of lemon juice, I am more apt to eat it. This works at home, too: Cut-up apples disappear from the refrigerator, but the whole ones sit. A medium apple has about 95 calories. Still find it boring? Take a tablespoon of peanut or almond butter along in a container, and use it as a dip.
3. Oranges or Clementines
An orange has only about 45 calories, and of course loads of vitamin C. A clementine "cutie" has about 40 calories, and the added benefit of being really easy to peel. If the idea of eating a plain orange isn't tantalizing, try cutting it up and adding some strawberries, walnut pieces, and a splash of raspberry vinaigrette.
4. Frozen Grapes
Grapes are great, but they're like mini-popsicles when you freeze them. Cut into little bunches, wash, dab dry, put into individual bags, and freeze. You'll have them ready to go all week. An entire cup is only 110 calories.
5. Frozen Blueberries
A cup of frozen blueberries is also really cool and satisfying. One cup has only 79 calories. They are great just by themselves, or added to a low-fat smoothie.
Because it contains so much water, watermelon is very filling. An entire cup is only 46 calories. I like the "Thai" variety, which are smaller and rounder, but very flavorful.
7. Frozen Banana
A frozen banana, at 120 calories, is a great treat. If you are a chocoholic, try slicing them, freezing, and then adding a dab of Magic Shell. This of course boosts your calorie count, but you really only need a drizzle. This becomes a super-satisfying snack, especially if you have a sweet tooth.
8. Sweet Potato
Years ago, I read that Martha Stewart would cook a sweet potato and take it on the airplane to eat when she traveled. I thought that was very odd, but she's right — they make a really satisfying snack. At 114 calories, you can go nuts and add a few mini-marshmallows. If your office has a microwave, you can make a sweet potato in seven minutes.
9. Peaches and Nectarines
What is better in the summer than a ripe peach, or a nectarine? I admit, though, they can be messy "office food." I like to slice mine and put into a container with a half-cup of nonfat vanilla yogurt. An entire peach has only 59 calories; a half-cup of nonfat yogurt, around 70 calories.
I'm a fan of the little pre-made cups of applesauce (50 calories). A sprinkle of cinnamon jazzes them up, too. Ever tried making homemade applesauce? It's easy and tastes absolutely great. My mom used to toss in a handful of Red Hots (candies) and melt them in. It turned the applesauce a pretty color and made it extra-zippy.
Just 76 calories are found in a cup of strawberries. I love a little fruit salad of sliced strawberries, a tablespoon of feta (20 calories), and balsamic vinegar. The vinegar brings out the sweetness of the strawberries.
Yogurt is like a blank canvas. A cup of nonfat greek yogurt has 130 calories. You can eat it as is, or drizzle honey, jam, or chocolate syrup over the top. Or, go another direction and add some salsa. Fresh, chopped fruit is a natural on top. Granola is great, too, but make sure you use a low-fat granola, as granola can be very caloric.
Sometimes in the middle of the day sweet won't do, but savory will.
13. Garbanzo Beans
Also known as chickpeas, these little legumes are a terrific snack. My new favorite method? Oven-roasted in a little olive oil, with spices. I particularly like this recipe because it includes cumin, one of my favorite spices. One-third cup has about 141 calories.
14. Miso Soup
Also great when I'm freezing in our over air-conditioned office: Miso soup. I buy the kind without MSG. A cup of miso soup, with the tofu pieces, is only 45 calories. It does contain a lot of sodium, so you'll need to be mindful of that.
We now know avocados contain "good fat," but you still need to watch how much you eat. Half of a medium avocado is about 140 calories and around 14 grams of fat. One of the great features of avocados is that they contain oleic acid, which helps signal your brain that you are full. So, you don't need to eat more than a couple of slices on a cracker or a piece of toast, and your stomach will be happy.
I'm not a fan of pre-packaged microwave popcorn, but food journalist and author Mark Bittman has a great method for making a more wholesome microwaved popcorn. If you have an office microwave, this is a big hit. Try curry powder, garlic powder, a little Parmesan, or Japanese furikake mix on top. A cup of popcorn contains 55 calories.
Edamame, or boiled soybeans, are easy to prepare. They are good both warm or chilled. Simply boil until tender, drain, and add salt. A half cup has 120 calories, nine grams of fiber, and 11 grams of protein! Experiment with adding seasonings — try sriracha sauce, oregano, or chili powder.
The chickpeas again make an appearance, but this time in a creamy dip. There are 409 calories in a cup of hummus, but a cup is a very large snack. I find that about a third to a half is just right, paired with some whole grain crackers or carrot and celery sticks. If you want to reduce the fat in hummus even a little more, try making your own using part boiled soybeans.
19. Hard-Boiled Egg
Make a pot of hard-boiled eggs on a Sunday, and you'll have low-calorie (78 calories) snacks in their own packages all week. Not only is an egg really satisfying, but it also has six grams of protein. Want a little more variety? Make a deviled egg and mash the yolks with a little greek yogurt, curry or cumin, or add sriracha sauce.
20. Chips and Salsa
A half-cup of salsa has about 118 calories. There are many new types of tortilla chips out now that are very low-fat. (I like "Beanitos," which do contain beans, and have only six grams of fat in 12 chips.) Salsa has a lot of flavor, so you won't feel deprived, and the bean chips are heartier because they contain more fiber.
21. Turkey and...
There are only 60 calories in four slices of lunchmeat turkey, and nine grams of protein. Pile it on a Wasa Crispbread (30 calories each), or roll up a celery stick. Try it with a thin layer of reduced-fat cream cheese and a dollop of cranberry jelly. Roll tightly and dip in dijon mustard. Place it in a rice-paper wrapper with sprouts, grated carrots, and a dollop of hoisin sauce.
22. Rice Cakes and...
While not all that satisfying on their own, there are umpteen ways to top a rice cake. My favorite low-calorie/healthy toppings include cottage cheese, avocado slices, and white bean dip.
23. Pistachio Nuts
Yes, 48 pistachio nuts is a lot of nuts, but that is a one-ounce serving. They are also heart-healthy and give you something to do with your hands. I recommend these for boring webinars.
24. Cottage Cheese
At around 100 calories for a half-cup, cottage cheese is another great snack choice. Besides also getting calcium and protein, it's very versatile. I like it with a little salsa (red or green). Adding chopped green onions or chives also gives it a great flavor. Spoon it up, or spread it over a cracker.
Just remember: proportion is key. Even the healthiest snack ceases to be beneficial if you overeat it.
What are your favorite healthy snacks?
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