While it might seem that cutting out snacks might be a good way to lose weight, eliminating them can mean being overly hungry at the next meal (which usually leads to overindulgence). There is a healthy way to snack, which means choosing healthy options and forgoing late-night snacks, according to the Mayo Clinic.
I like a 200-calorie snack, which will fill me up, but not so much that it will tire me out (I'm usually looking for energy from my snacks, not a slump). Generally I like to make my snacks a mix of protein and whole grains or protein and fruit or veggies, and most of all I — like a kid — like a snack to be fun to eat and enjoyable.
Without further ado, check out five healthy snacks for grown-ups that I regularly eat and enjoy. (All of these would be healthier than cookies-and-milk options for kids, too.) Just because you're an adult, doesn't mean that an afternoon snack should be ignored.
Nuts, trail mix and nut bars: Not only are nuts (and seeds) delicious in a variety of ways, but they are high in proteins and healthy fats, which keep you satisfied between meals. Keeping mixed nuts (try unsalted, raw nuts instead of the roasted, salted kind for a fresh taste and an even healthier option) or nut bars (I like Kind bars, but you can make your own pretty easily with a recipe like this one) around for hungry times can keep you going during a workout, or through the morning.
Berries: Blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and raspberries are low-calorie, high-flavor snack packed with antioxidants, and there aren't many people who find them unappealing. I eat a small bowl of these mixed fruits one berry at a time, to both enjoy each one (no two blueberries taste exactly alike) and slow down the snacking. Berries keep well in the fridge for almost a week, and frozen berries are almost as tasty as fresh (and are a great cool-down snack after a workout). Berries, especially wild ones (keep an eye out for these at the farmers market in a couple of months), are so healthy that the father of organic farming, J.I. Rodale, named them to his top 11 healthiest foods.
Protein drink mixes: A delicious smoothie can be a super-satisfying snack and feel like a treat. They can also fit the niche for when you feel like something a little sweet to drink instead of chew. Look for those you can just shake up with water, milk or soymilk so you that you know exactly how many calories you are getting. I like Vega's new Shake and Go smoothie, because it is made with whole plant ingredients rather than weird chemical isolates.
Cracker-sandwiches: An open-faced cracker sandwich can be made with all sorts of ingredients — keep whole, organic foods in mind and you almost can't go wrong (but hey, s'mores don't count!). I like Doctor Kracker's line because they are low-calorie, high taste and made with whole grains and natural ingredients. I split one of the big crackers in half, and spread with goat cheese and add a drizzle of honey if I'm in a sweet mood, or slice up some pickled okra (I'm obsessed with Rick's Picks) or cornichons if I'm more into salty (180 calories). Or I spread with high-quality seeded mustard and a hard-boiled local egg (175 calories). Or spread with hummus, fresh parsley and tomato (160 calories). I don't eat meat, but if you do, this might be a good place to eat some of your leftover chicken or salmon from last night's dinner. The reason you make the "sandwich" on a cracker is to limit the amounts of what you're eating (basic portion control; this works better than idly dipping a cracker in hummus and munching without thought).
All-fruit smoothies: Similar to protein drink mixes, a fruit smoothie made with some water, a teaspoon of honey, a banana and some berries, mango or pear can be a sweet, fewer-than-200-calories treat that helps you get your fiber (make them yourself rather than buying the pre-made ones; fresh are much healthier, and retain all the nutrients, vitamins and flavor). It will definitely beat a late-afternoon sugar craving.
Related on MNN: Homemade peanut butter granola bars
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