Recent nutritional wisdom has portrayed conflicting views when it comes to the idea of “snacking.” Most women’s magazines praise the virtues of small meals throughout the day, while current bestseller The Fast Diet touts stretching as much time as possible between meals without so much as a nibble. The Fast Metabolism Diet recommends eating six times daily in order to turn your body into a “fat-burning furnace,” while Mireille Guiliano claims that avoiding snacks is one of the key reasons why French women simply don’t get fat. So what’s a girl to do with all these mixed messages? Ultimately, I think it comes down to listening to your own body and learning to distinguish when we’re really hungry. Some of us are ravenous at breakfast and some are hungrier at dinner; certain lifestyles demand smaller, more frequent meals, while others allow for a long lunch that will tide you over through the entire afternoon. I find that I almost always need a little boost around 3 or 4pm, so I’ve made it a point to stock the pantry with a few healthy, go-to items (some salty, some sweet) that feel like a treat and will keep mindless grazing at bay. Click through for all my current favorites…
Popcorn with Sea Salt + Chili
Popcorn is one of those magical foods that tastes very snack-y and even a little naughty… yet is surprisingly low in calories and full of fiber and antioxidants. Perfect for those days when the munchies try to get the best of you. Just make sure you use “naked” air-popped popcorn, since flavored kinds can be doused in lots of oils and ingredients that are difficult to pronounce (never a good sign.) I love to sprinkle mine with sea salt and little hit of chili powder.
Dark Chocolate Squares & Clementine Segments
Anyone else obsessed with the combination of dark chocolate and orange? This favorite snack of mine combines those flavors into one, satisfyingly guilt-free bite. Clementines are a sweet, easy-to-eat Vitamin C powerhouse that comes in at a measly 35 calories, and of course we all rejoiced the day that the experts announced the antioxidants found in dark chocolate. Since this is about quality over quantity (1 small square of chocolate should do you) buy the best dark chocolate bar you can get your hands on.
There’s truly nothing better than a crispy, crunchy snack for mindless munching on the road or on the coffee table at a family gathering. Packed with protein, these bites also add a pop of flavor to a soup or salad.
For those afternoons when I need something sweet, GoodPops are my favorite way to satisfy the urge. The coffee flavor, clocking in at just 96 calories, makes me feel like a just dug into a bowl of java ice cream…and it’s got just enough locally-roasted organic coldbrewed coffee to give me the caffeine kick I need to push through the afternoon slump.
Many granola bars are highly-processed and full of sugar, so I love knowing that when I grab a KIND bar, I’m consuming straightforward whole ingredients like fruit, nuts and honey. Nothing weird, nothing scary. Pomegranate Blueberry Pistachio and Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew with Antioxidants are my faves.
Roasted Almonds + Dried Apricots
I eat a crazy amount of almonds each day, and I love the combination of roasted, unsalted ones with chopped dried apricots for a quick and healthy “trail mix” I can munch at my desk.
Kashi GoLean Hot Cereal
These little 150-calorie packs of goodness are full of whole oats, flaxseeds, barley and red wheat, and boast 9 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber per pack. They’re the perfect mid-morning snack when you don’t have time for a good breakfast and can’t make it through until lunch without something warm and cozy.
Pumpkin Seeds and Blueberries
I love the satisfyingly salty crunch of pumpkin seeds paired with a handful of sweet, juicy blueberries. Researchers keep discovering new pumpkin seed benefits all the time — these tiny powerhouses are bursting with magnesium, protein and zinc, plus loads of antioxidants. Blueberries, for their part, have some of the highest concentrations of antioxidants of any fruits or vegetables, and they’re low on the glycemic index which means they won’t send blood sugar soaring. Best of all, these are both whole foods that don’t require prep work or refrigeration, making them one of the best grab-and-go snacks around.
These crunchy slices of dried orange, apple and pear slices are like eating chips, only tastier, gluten-free and a whole lot healthier. Great on their own, they’re also a perfect accompaniment to cheese and wine (happy hour snacks, anyone?)
These nutritional powerhouses will have you saying goodbye to the potato chip for good. I’ve been dipping my low-cal, fiber-rich veggie chips in hummus and greek yogurt, or I enjoy simply squeezing a lemon over the kale on its own. Not to mention, you’ll get the same crunch without worrying about high sodium content.
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