As you spend more time at home, do you find yourself snacking more often? If you have kids, are they asking, "What can I eat?" Or constantly saying, "I'm hungry". Here are some snack ideas to help keep you and your family energized with nutrient-rich options.
How about popcorn for a snack? Popcorn can make a great snack with high dietary fiber and low in calories (if air-popped). However, be careful with the added butter and salt such as movie theater popcorn. A tub of movie theater popcorn can contain up to 1,090 calories and 2,650 milligrams of sodium. The same goes for popcorn coated in sugar, such as caramel corn. Air-popped would be a good way to prepare popcorn because it gives you some control over the seasonings added afterwards – how much salt, or how much oil or butter. Check the label for microwave popcorn as it can average around 300 calories a bag for buttered popcorn. Microwave light popcorn will have less calories. Remember popcorn is filled with air (think about how small the kernels are compared to after they're popped). Because it's airy, you get a pretty large portion without a lot of calories. You can eat 3 whole cups of popcorn for only 100 calories.
Focus on the fiber. Fiber is the indigestible component of plant-based foods, like fruits and veggies, legumes, whole grains and certain nuts and seeds, like chia seeds. Here's how it works, plus what you can do to reap the weight-loss benefits of eating more fiber.
Why is fiber the best food to eat when trying to lose weight?
Our bodies can't fully digest fiber, so it adds filling volume to our meals for very few calories. Fiber also slows down the rate of digestion, which is why we feel satisfied for longer after a high-fiber meal and less inclined to reach for a snack soon after. Basically, by filling up on fiber-rich foods, you'll naturally feel more satisfied after meals and as a result will consume less and absorb fewer calories overall.
Creative snacks may take a little bit of planning at the grocery store and in your kitchen. Try to be creative with adding seasonal fruits and vegetables for snack choices. Whether you are craving something sweet, salty, or savory; here are some different ideas:
Healthy Sweet Snacks
Yogurt is an excellent snack because it is a good source of protein and calcium. Some yogurts also contain live bacteria, which benefit the digestive system.2
Oatmeal: Oatmeal is a healthy breakfast but also makes a great snack. Oats are high in fiber, along with other health benefits.3 Try the Old Fashion, Steel Cut or Minute oats, and skip the instant or packaged oats due to the added sugar and salt. There are many other ways to jazz up oatmeal with fruit, peanut butter, almond butter, cinnamon, diced apples, and so forth.
Fruit smoothie: A fruit smoothie is a good way to pack a lot of nutrients into a small snack. You can also add veggies to a smoothie. With the sweetness of the fruit, your kids will not realize there are veggies in the smoothie.
Sliced fruit with cheese: Fruit and cheese complement each other in flavors. Some combinations to try are sliced pears with ricotta cheese, watermelon with feta, peach with burrata (Italian cow milk cheese), apple and cheddar, or mango and goat cheese. The sweetness of fruit and saltiness of cheese are the main reason they pair well together.
Fruit crisp: Apples, peaches, plums (or other seasonal fruit) can be cut up, drizzled with a bit of lemon juice; add a topping of oatmeal, cinnamon, brown sugar to the top. Cooked in an oven of 350⁰F for 20-30 minutes for a fruit crisp.
Healthy Savory Snacks
Veggie pita pocket: Spread some hummus in a whole-wheat pita pocket, and slice up raw veggies such as carrots, cucumbers, lettuce, and bell peppers.
Hard-boiled eggs: Keep hard-boiled eggs in the refrigerator for a quick, high quality, complete protein treat. Eggs provide high-quality protein and several vitamins and minerals, including riboflavin, selenium, and choline.4
Turkey and avocado roll-up:
A turkey and avocado roll-up is an easy-to-eat, healthy snack. To make a turkey and avocado roll-up, first peel and slice an avocado. Gently toss the slices in lime juice to prevent browning. Wrap one piece of turkey around each avocado slice.
Veggie sticks and hummus or peanut butter: Hummus is a thick, creamy spread made from chickpeas, which contain fiber, folate, and plenty of antioxidants. Similar ideas might be celery with peanut butter. Other veggie suggestions are carrots, zucchini, cucumbers, broccoli, or cauliflower.
Whole-grain crackers and nut butter: This snack has a good balance of protein, carbs, and fat. Add a piece of fruit or cut-up fruit as a convenient and healthy snack. Most fruits contain fiber and important nutrients like potassium and vitamins A and C.
Half of a sandwich: Sandwiches are not just for mealtime. Half of a sandwich can also make a healthy snack. Add lettuce, tomatoes, or other veggies for an extra crunch, and use whole grain bread for extra fiber.
Healthy Salty Snacks
Nuts: Nuts are high in healthy fats, along with fiber and antioxidants.
Homemade trail mix: Chex Mix™ cereal with added nuts, raisins, dried cranberries, maybe even some chocolate chips or M&M®s.
Here are three easy, simple recipes for healthy snacking while you are at home. You can also sneak in more veggies at the same time!
Sweet Potato Chips
1 large, sweet potato (about 1 pound), thinly sliced (about 1/8 inch thick), 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 200⁰F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Toss sweet potato slices with oil and salt. Spread in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets. Bake on the upper and lower oven racks until crisp, rotating the pans top to bottom and front to back halfway through, about 3 hours. Cool on the pans for 30 minutes before serving.
Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas
1 (15 ounce) can no-salt-added chickpeas, rinsed, nonstick cooking spray, ¼ teaspoon sea salt
Preheat oven to 425⁰F. Pat chickpeas dry with paper towels; place on a large rimmed baking sheet. Coat with cooking spray and sprinkle with salt. Bake until crunchy, 30 to 45 minutes.
1 large bunch kale, tough stems removed, leaves torn into pieces (about 16 cups),1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, and ¼ teaspoon salt
Position racks in upper third and center of oven; preheat to 400⁰F. If kale is wet, very thoroughly pat dry with a clean kitchen towel; transfer to a large bowl. Drizzle the kale with oil and sprinkle with salt. Using your hands, massage the oil and salt onto the kale leaves to evenly coat. Fill two large, rimmed baking sheets with a layer of kale, making sure the leaves do not overlap. (If the kale will not all fit, make the chips in batches.) Bake until most leaves are crisp, switching the pans back to front and top to bottom halfway through, and 8 to 12 minutes total. (If baking a batch on just one sheet, start checking after 8 minutes to prevent burning.) Store in airtight containers.
1. “Popcorn as a snack: Healthy hit or dietary horror show?” American Heart Association News, https://www.heart.org/en/news/2019/06/18/popcorn-as-a-snack-healthy-hit-or-dietary-horror-show. Accessed 1 October 2021.
2. Elliott,Brianna. "Impressive Health Benefits of Yogurt." Healthline, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/7-benefits-of-yogurt. Accessed 17 July 2020.
3. Taub-Dix, Bonnie. "7 Reasons You Should Eat Oatmeal Every Day. Every Day Health, https://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/bonnie-taub-dix-nutrition-intuition/reasons-why-you-should-eat-oatmeal-every-day/. Accessed 17 July 2020.
4. Syn, Mia. "Egg Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits."
VeryWell Fit, https://www.verywellfit.com/hard-boiled-egg-calories-and-fat-3495628. Accessed 20 July 2020.