Almost everyone I know loves snacking! It's actually one of my favorite pastimes, but overcoming my autoimmune disease has meant finding alternatives to my old favorites. Snacking can definitely be tricky when you're trying to follow a healthy eating style because most of the snacks we're accustomed to have tons of sugar, unhealthy fats, and processed ingredients we can't even pronounce. As someone who has had to make major food changes, I'm here to tell you that you absolutely CAN have great tasting snacks that will also nourish your body and your mind!
Most of us have lots of choices each day when it comes to food. Each meal and snack is an opportunity to do something great for our current and future health, not to mention our overall quality of life! There are so many snack options to choose from, so it's important to be prepared! Stocking your kitchen with healthy, delicious options that you can grab after work, or that you can prep to take with you is really the first step to healthy snacking! A healthy snack should satisfy your hunger AND provide valuable nutrients to fuel your body! Let's face it, we're all busy and life is hectic. We need excellent sources of fuel and a well-planned, healthy snack can provide the additional nutrients our bodies need to function optimally!
Food can be so confusing and it can be hard to know what to eat, especially when it comes to snacks. Check out my healthy snack guidelines below to help you make the most informed snack decisions:
1. Limit Processed Foods
Whole foods tend to be the most nutritious but it's okay to choose a few convenience foods you can trust. It’s not realistic to make everything from scratch! So, you can keep hummus, a nut or seed butter without added oils and sugars, low added sugar yogurt (dairy free if needed), or crackers (I love Simple Mills Almond Flour Crackers!) on hand.
2. Include a Fruit or Veggie
Snack time is a great opportunity to take in more fruits and veggies. I say vegetables are the lifeline to longevity, but most Americans aren't getting even the minimum requirement each day. Fruit isn’t just for breakfast and veggies shouldn’t only be served with dinner. Try a fruit salad, a fruit parfait, green smoothie, veggies with a healthy dip, or experiment with veggies cut into different shapes or cooked versus raw.
3. Low Added Sugar
Sugar is a contributor to many of our chronic diseases and mental health symptoms, and the more sugar you eat, the more sugar you crave. Foods high in sugar and added sugar will increase your blood sugar causing your body to secrete more insulin. High levels of insulin are damaging to the body and among other things will increase your appetite. We've all probably experienced this after eating a high sugar meal or snack when we feel hungry again after 30 minutes.
4. Make it Last Till Dinner
Make sure your snack contains fiber, protein, and/or healthy fat to help keep you full longer. Fiber, protein, and fat take longer to digest than simple carbs and can prevent a crash in energy, but also decrease that insulin response.
Still wondering what kinds of snacks to add? Here are a few simple, delicious, healthy examples to try. What are your favorite healthy snacks?
Homemade Snack Mix
Include whole grains, nuts, seeds, and dried fruit. Try seasoning with nutritional yeast, cinnamon, chili powder, or other herbs and spices. Check out this Spicy Maple Cheddar Snack Mix recipe.
Or this Sweet & Smoky Snack Mix
2. Almond Flour Crackers with Avocado Slices
Simple Mills Almond Flour Crackers are great because they use a nut and seed blend as a base and provide 2-4 grams of protein, 6-9 grams of fat (mostly from nuts!), and 2 grams of fiber. Top with sliced avocado or homemade guacamole.
3. Low Sugar Yogurt Parfaits
This is a great snack for adults, but also fun when getting the kids involved: Provide a healthy base of a lower sugar yogurt (dairy free if needed) and various toppings (nuts, seeds, granola, fruit, etc.) so everyone can make it their own. Try this Banana Berry Crunch Parfait recipe for a simple homemade granola.
4. Hummus or Honey Mustard Dip with Veggies
Cut up your favorite veggies and serve with fun homemade dips. Try this hummus or this Honey Mustard Dip.
5. Ants on a Log
This classic, well balanced snack offers fruits, veggies, and a healthy source of protein and fat. It doesn't have to be made with celery (which my husband can't stand), swap the celery out and try apple slices, carrot sticks, or Simple Mills crackers. Top with hemp, chia, or ground flaxseed, and dried blueberries, currants, or cranberries for a fun and healthy twist.
6. DIY Cheese Board
Cheese boards offer great variety and presentation! Include different types of cheeses, fresh and dried fruits, Simple Mills Sea Salt Almond Flour Crackers, and veggies too! And, if you're dairy sensitive, make your own nut cheese or vegan cheese instead!
7. Veggies and Salsa
Who doesn't love some homemade salsa? Instead of always using tortilla chips, try Simple Mills Almond Flour Crackers and cut up veggies to dip in your salsa. Check out my homemade salsa recipe:
18 Roma tomatoes
3 jalapenos, seeds removed
1 white onion
2 garlic cloves
3 drops Young Living Lemon Essential Oil (or 1/4 c lemon juice)
1 Tbsp cumin
Salt to taste
Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor and process on high until desired consistency is reached. Store in an air-tight container for up to 5 days.
For more healthy snack ideas, sign up for a FREE 3-day trial of our meal plans, no credit card required. The meal plans include a healthy snack each day and the recipe box function allows you to sort by "snacks" to find more ideas your family will love. All meal plan recipes are dietitian created and approved!
And as always, if you need more personalized information or would like to know what works best for YOUR body, contact us for a free 15 minute consultation!
**DISCLAIMER: I received free Simple Mills samples in exchange for my honest opinion**