As part of a healthy diet, we recommend that you include three meals and two snacks throughout the day. The idea of a snack is that it can help you maintain your levels of energy, glucose and nutrients steady through your day. Healthy snacking is also quite helpful to avoid some mood swings and cravings.
So, what makes the perfect snack?
A perfect snack should be nutritious and free of refined sugars and unhealthy fats. It should also be easy to carry, store and eat so that you won’t be tempted by less healthy choices. It should also be enjoyable and provide you with the energy you need to keep going throughout the day. Snacks are often useful to help you reach your five a day. Check out these twelve snacks that check all these boxes:
1. Dry Fruit and Nut Bars
Unsurprisingly, the best fruit and nut bars are homemade. When you make them, you get to control what goes in them, and that reduces the amount of sugar and artificial ingredients. These types of bars are great for a midday snack or after your yoga practice. They will provide you with gradual energy, vitamins, minerals, proteins and healthy fats, making them totally balanced.
2. Go Bananas!
Bananas have to be the easiest snack to carry around, thanks to it’s natural container: the peel! You can eat it just about anywhere without worrying about cutlery, preparation or clean hands. Bananas are rich in electrolytes and contain tryptophan, which helps reduce anxiety.
3) Fruit and Yogurt
Pack natural or Greek yogurt, add granola and top with blueberries and strawberries. Sprinkle chia seeds, sliced almonds or whatever seeds or nuts you have on hand. This is a quite balanced snack that will also help pick up your energy level. You can also help the environment by opting for big containers over single servings, and using a small plastic container.
4) Bell Peppers
A perfect snack doesn’t always have to include some sort of fruit: veggies can be fun and practical too. Bell peppers are rich in vitamins A and C, they help you hydrate and are a good source of fibre. Cut them into slices or try the mini bell peppers. If that’s a bit plain for you, try dipping slices in goat cheese, hummus or a yogurt based dressing.
5) Bread and Hummus
You don’t have to snack on fruit and veggies all the time — to add some variety go savory. Snacking on hummus spread over toast or warm pita bread can be a savior in the middle of your day and helpful between meals to maintain your glucose and energy levels steady.
6) Caprese-style Cherry Tomatoes
This is another option that will help you reach your five a day. To make this simple and transportable snack, just combine cherry tomatoes, slices of mozzarella cheese and sprinkle on some dried basil if you have some. A more impressive version of this snack uses slices of tomato and mozzarella, fresh basil, olive oil, salt and pepper, and balsamic vinegar. Alternate the tomato, mozzarella slices, and basil leaves. Then, drizzle some olive oil and balsamic vinegar and a touch of salt and pepper.
Almonds are a rich source of minerals, healthy fats and protein, and are practical enough to be carried in a small container or bag. They’re one of the best sources of vitamin E, an antioxidant that has been associated to lower rates of heart disease. Just a handful of almonds will give you more than a fourth of the recommended daily intake of vitamin E, as well as 6 grams of protein, 3.5 grams of fiber, 75 mg of calcium, and 13 grams of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. They are also rich in many minerals such as magnesium, which helps control your blood sugar. If that’s not enough, their skin is concentrated with antioxidants which helps avoid premature aging and some kinds of diseases.
A fistful of this heart-friendly nut is enough to get you going between your meals. They are also quite easy to carry and having to peel them will help you eat them more mindfully and enjoy them more. Comparative to other nuts, pistachios have quite a low calorie count. Among their many benefits, they are high in copper which helps with iron absorption and can help prevent and control anaemia.
When in season, figs can be a great snack. You don’t have to peel them and they are full of unprocessed energy and nutrients.
10) Apricots or Plums
Fresh or dry, apricots and plums can be a very practical and delicious option for healthy snacking. Apricots and plums in particular are a good option for their carbohydrate, fibre and mineral content.
A mandarin orange is a slightly smaller relative of the standard orange. The tangerine and clementine are varietals of the mandarin. They are easy to store, peel, carry around and (in the case of clementines) seedless, making them a convenient, healthy snack. Mandarins can provide you with half of a day’s worth of vitamin C as well as other antioxidants which include beta-carotene, helpful for the immune system and your vision, and lutein and zeaxanthin, which protect your retina from damage and may help you prevent age-related vision loss.
Prepare a fistful and pack into small paper bags or ready-to-go containers so that you eat the right amount of eat this delicious nutty snack. Due to their high content of oleic acid, cashews are more stable than most other nuts but should still be stored in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator. Have as an afternoon pick me up and they will satisfy you until dinnertime and keep you from craving unhealthy food later.
Time for a Snack Yet?
Next time you select a snack, don’t go for the first wrapped thing you see on the way to the cashier in the supermarket. Instead, go for “the fruits of nature”, in other words, snacks that are less processed. These options will generally be low in sugar and unhealthy fats. The next step is to remember to be present when eating your snack. Stop all distractions and use all of your senses to savour it. Have any snacks to add to the list? Scroll down and share with us in the comments below!