People that know me know I LOVE snacks. While I can certainly appreciate the beauty of classic potato chips or some gourmet cheese (or sometimes both), the majority of the time I try to grab something healthier. In my mind, the ideal snack gives you both protein and carbs. I also prefer it to have either fiber or a healthy fat, to help you feel satisfied. Lastly, it’s important that you like the taste! That might sound silly, but if I don’t truly enjoy eating something, then it doesn’t satisfy me. For example, I’ve never been a big fan of rice cakes, so you won’t find those on this list. Here’s a round-up of some of my favorite go-to snacks:
These are pickled lupini beans, which is something I’d never heard of until I saw these snacks on the shelves of a CIBO Express Gourmet Market at LaGuardia. They basically look like giant lima beans, with a slightly tangy and salty flavor from the pickling. The nutrition profile is spot on: 25 reasonably sized beans have 60 calories, 7g protein, 7g carbs, and 6g fiber. Talk about perfection. My favorite flavor is garlic and herb, but they’re all worth a try.
Flavors: Sea Salt, Chili Lime, Garlic and Herb, Balsamic and Herb, Hot Pepper
If my love for chickpeas isn’t obvious enough from my food photos, then it certainly is now. These are a great snack because they have the crunch of a chip or cracker, but provide more protein and fiber. There’s salt (100-260 mg per serving), but not so much that they’ll leave you feeling fluid overloaded later. My favorite flavor is sea salt (am I boring?), but there are several others to choose from. One ¼ cup serving provides 130 calories, 6g protein, and 6g fiber. Last but not least, these babies are great for traveling or keeping at your desk because they don’t need to be refrigerated.
This snack is a classic. Movie theatre popcorn gave it a bad name because of the gobs of salt and butter, but there are lots of great brands out there. Look for those with less than 65 calories per cup. Bonus points if it’s made with ingredients you can pronounce, like spices and real cheese (none of the fake stuff!). Popcorn has a good amount of fiber, usually about 5g per serving, which helps keep you full. Because it’s light and fluffy, a serving size of popcorn tends to be larger than many other foods, which may make it more difficult to overeat.
I don’t mean your grandma’s plain old boring toast. Load it up with nut butter, vegan cream cheese (hi Kite Hill chive), hummus, or mashed avocado to keep things interesting. Make sure to choose a whole grain bread. Some of my favorites include Trader Joe’s soft multigrain rustic bread or Food 4 Life Baking Ezekiel bread.
Greek yogurt or skyr:
My love for Siggi’s runs deep, but I’m actually not totally brand loyal. Chobani, Dannon, Icelandic Provisions, and several other brands make great high protein yogurt. These have a great protein:carb ratio to help keep you satisfied. If you don’t feel like a yogurt would fill you up alone, try adding a half cup of fresh fruit. This will only add about 40 calories but will up the fiber content and add some sweetness. Another great (and pre-mixed!) option is Muunacottage cheese. I just discovered these a few weeks ago thanks to a fellow RD pal and I’m really into them.
Hummus with a cracker/veggie/chip combo:
As much as I love chips, I find they’re easy to overeat. The serving size is often deceptively small, and if I don’t eat slowly then I tend to go overboard. That’s why I find it helpful to dip both vegetables (low calorie + fiber) and one serving of chips/crackers (carby salty goodness) into a few tablespoons of hummus. Whole grain chips or crackers are your best options because they have more protein, fiber, and micronutrients. These combined with fresh vegetables and creamy hummus make for a satisfying snack.