By: Cara Costantino
We've all been there - you're hungry and you want to eat something healthy, but you aren't sure what to grab. And if you are anything like me, you also want that healthy snack to taste delicious! Coming up with easy and healthy snacks doesn't have to be hard - there are so many options. Craving something savory, sweet, crunchy, creamy or spicy? I've got you covered.
Here are 5 snack ideas to try the next time your stomach is telling you it's time to eat!
1. Carrot Chips and Hummus - I found these carrot chips at Safeway and I know Whole Foods has them too. You could even get fancy and create your own carrot chips at home with a mandolin. They are a fun alternative to carrot sticks and hummus is a perfect match for dipping. In addition to being crunchy and tasty, carrots have a lot of great health benefits. They are a good source of beta-carotene, fiber, vitamin K and potassium (Silva Dias, 2014). If you really want to go for it, you can make your own hummus - try this recipe.
2. Pumpkin Oat Muffins - These are a great snack to make on a Sunday afternoon and then freeze a bunch of them, so you can defrost one when you need to grab something and run. They can be a great late afternoon snack or even a quick breakfast. I made these ones and my whole family loved them! Bonus - if you happen to be gluten-free these are for you. Pumpkin is a nutritional powerhouse and they are full of antioxidants, which can help stop cell damage. (Devi, Prasad, Sagarika, 2018)
3. Lemon, Blueberry, and Chia Seed Energy Balls - These contain walnuts, almonds, dates, dried blueberries, chia seed, lemon extract, vanilla extract, lemon juice and sea salt. You literally just throw all the ingredients in a food processor, whirl it up and then form little balls. You can store them in the refrigerator or they will keep even longer in the freezer. Chia seeds deliver a huge amount of nutrients with a really low amount of calories. Chia seeds also contain a large amount of soluble fiber and therefore can help you stay fuller, longer and they also may help fight off heart disease (Villanueva-Bermejo, Calvo, Castro-Gómez, Fornari, & Fontecha 2018). Bonus: These snacks are super portable and they do not need to be refrigerated. I actually made theses for the first time for my husband, who is a cyclist, so that he had some nutritious fuel on his rides.
4. Banana & Peanut-butter Hemp Seed Bites - These tasty treats are made by slicing up a banana, dolloping the banana pieces with some peanut-butter (or any nut-butter of your choice), drizzling them with a little honey and then sprinkling them with hemp seeds. Hemp seeds are incredibly nutritious and their list of benefits is long! (Maria Angeles Fernandez-Arche et al, 2014) They are a great source of essential fatty acids, including alpha-linoleic acid, which is an omega-3. Omega-3 fatty acids are important because they can improve heart health and reduce the risk of heart disease.
5. Hardboiled Egg with Himalayan Pink Sea Salt - These are another great grab-n-go snack. I like to sprinkle the eggs with a little Himalayan Pink Sea Salt (I found mine at Trader Joe's). Or you could try sprinkling some za’atar on them, which is a Middle Eastern spice blend with herbs like oregano, marjoram, thyme, cumin, coriander, with sesame seeds, salt and sumac. Eggs are a fantastic source of protein and they contain almost every nutrient we need. They can help raise our HDL cholesterol -A.K.A. the good cholesterol - without raising our LDL cholesterol - A.K.A. the bad cholesterol (Eckel, 2015). Looking for the perfect way to make hard-boiled eggs? Try it this recipe.
I hope you enjoy these delicious and nutritious snack ideas. If you have any great suggestions for snacks that pack a healthy punch, I would love to hear about them! Please comment below and let me know your favorites.
Paz, S. M., Marín-Aguilar, F., García-Giménez, M. D., & Fernández-Arche, M. A. (2014). Hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) Seed Oil: Analytical and Phytochemical Characterization of the Unsaponifiable Fraction. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry,62(5), 1105-1110. doi:10.1021/jf404278q
Eckel, R. H. (2015). Eggs and beyond: Is dietary cholesterol no longer important? The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,102(2), 235-236. doi:10.3945/ajcn.115.116905
Silva Dias, J.C. (2014) Nutritional and Health Benefits of Carrots and Their Seed Extracts. Food and Nutrition Sciences, 5, 2147-2156. http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/fns.2014.522227
Villanueva-Bermejo, D., Calvo, M. V., Castro-Gómez, P., Fornari, T., & Fontecha, J. (2018). Production of omega 3-rich oils from underutilized chia seeds. Comparison between supercritical fluid and pressurized liquid extraction methods. Food Research International. doi:10.1016/j.foodres.2018.10.085
All photographs by Cara Costantino, 2018.
The Digestible; a site for easy to understand food, nutrition, health, and energy balance information.