Rumble! Grumble! There go those annoying gurgling and bubbling sounds. Hope no one else can hear them. Will this meeting ever end? Wow, it’s only 10:30 in the morning. Why didn’t I eat something? Yup, inside of toughening it out, you should simply eat a healthy snack. Our snack recipes focus on healthy snack ideas that are not only great for work, after school, or dinner, but also double as tasty appetizer ideas for your next famous party.
Curbing hungry with healthy snack foods applies to mid-morning, mid-afternoon, and after dinner munching. What’s important is to make sure your snacks are healthy and low in calories instead of sugary calorie bombs.
Which foods make healthy snacks and easy party foods? Well, there are dips, spreads, cut vegetables, fruits, nuts, bites, bars, stuffed mushrooms, cheeses, salsas, granola bars, party mixes, granola, treats, popsicles, nachos, deviled eggs, and so many more. All these tasty ideas can easily be made into fabulous finger foods that are great for snacking, parties, or watching football games.
Check out our healthy and yummy snack recipes in our Snacks & Appetizers Category on Your Daily Food Choices blog.
Why Healthy Snacking is Important
Our daily food plan is designed for us to eat two to three healthy snacks each day. We prefer eating three smaller meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) and two to three snacks per day (mid-morning, mid-afternoon, and after dinner) to help maintain blood sugar levels and energy. Eating food throughout the day helps elevate your mood, control cravings, and boost your metabolism.
Now before some of you start jumping for joy at the mere thought of snacking two or three times a day, you need be extremely careful as to which snacks you are envisioning. All too many snacks that are handy to buy at the work place or the grocery stores are simply not healthy.
The primary purpose of healthy snacking is to curb the pre-mealtime hunger without consuming too many calories. You want to avoid added sugar and too much sodium so you don’t have to feel guilty about your snack.
Snacking is great way to incorporate more nutrients into your daily eating plan and help prevent you from overeating at mealtimes. Depending upon how many times you snack, snacking can easily provide up to 25% of your daily calories.
Benefits of snacking
- Provides nutrients: Healthy snacking will help you meet many of your nutrient, fiber, and protein requirements for the day. Choose nutrient-dense and fiber-rich foods like fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, low-fat dairy, and vegetables.
- Curbs cravings and prevents overeating: When you start feeling hungry between meals, instead of depriving yourself while trying to wait until mealtime, go ahead and enjoy a healthy snack. This will keep you from getting overly hungry and most likely overeating at your next meal.
- Keeps blood sugar level: Incorporating carbohydrates into your snacks helps keep your metabolism active and your blood sugar levels even and steady. While being especially beneficial for those with diabetes or pre-diabetes, everyone can reap rewards of normalized blood sugar.
- Boosts mood and energy: When your body runs low on fuel, besides feeling hungry, you can also start feeling cranky, tired, moody, and be unable to concentrate. By adding protein to your snack you will get that extra energy boost and alertness you are looking for.
When Snacking is Not Healthy
Daily in between meal snacking is not healthy if you:
- Eat high-calorie unhealthy snacks that make you gain weight and offer little nutrition.
- Eat when you are not hungry.
- Eat just because you are bored and have nothing else to do.
- Eat because you are over stressed, tired, or angry.
Healthy Snack Ideas
Mindful snacking boosts your daily intake of essential nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants. It holds you over between meals and keeps you from overeating at mealtime. Keep the snack between 100 and 200 calories.
When the snack monster hits
Make your snack a protein and carbohydrate combo. This will give you energy and curb your food cravings until the next meal. Snacks with healthy carbs and protein are also the best choice for after dinner snacking.
- Celery and natural peanut butter
- String cheese and small piece of fruit
- Cottage cheese sprinkled with nuts
- 2 cups air-popped popcorn with 1 ounce cheese
- 1 slice whole-grain raisin toast spread with 1 tablespoon nut butter
When craving a sweet snack
If you start craving something sweet, don’t try to resist it and eat something else. If you do, you will feel deprived and end up giving in to the sweet thing later on.
Sweet snack ideas:
- Keep dark chocolate with at least 70% cacao on hand and slowly enjoy a small amount. One ounce has about 150 calories.
- Eat a small amount of dried prunes, raisins, or apricots.
- Grab a package of delicious Dole Dippers, frozen bites of pineapple, strawberry, or banana dipped in dark chocolate, from the freezer. A package is about 80 calories.
- Drizzle a tablespoon of chocolate syrup over a half cup of sliced fruit.
- Grab a small handful of roasted almonds or pecans coated in cocoa or cinnamon. Nuts are high in fiber which is great for satisfying snack cravings.
When craving a salty snack
If you start craving something salty, just with a sweet craving, don’t try to resist it and eat something else.
Salty snack options:
- Pair mini whole grain pretzel sticks with natural peanut butter or a Mini Babybel cheese.
- Another option is to eat several green olives. Ten large green olives only have 57 calories and if you choose olives with seeds, it will take you longer to eat them.
- Grab a handful of high in fiber roasted and salted peanuts or mixed nuts.
When staring at the vending machine
If your only option for grabbing a snack is the vending machines, make the best choices possible.
Vending machine ideas:
- Pick fresh fruit or canned fruit if these choices are available from the vending machine. Other good options are yogurt or nuts.
- If your only options are chips or candy bars, choose baked chips or SunChips as those have around 140 calories.
- Other good options are yogurt or nuts like sunflower kernels. If you must have something sweet, choose Fig Newtons.
When looking for a light snack
Depending upon other foods you are eating for a particular day, you may need to keep snack calories low.
Light snack options:
- A great 100 calorie snack is pistachios in the shell. Eating 30 of these nutty wonders will give you fiber and protein. And the best thing is that they take a long time to eat.
- Another skinny option is to drink low-sodium vegetable juice. One cup has about 50 calories.
- Try a fiber filling Middle Eastern treat of ¼ cup hummus with 4 carrot sticks. This tasty snack is only 100 calories. Try serving with other veggies like celery or broccoli.
Unhealthy Snacks to Avoid
Careless snacking can quickly and easily destroy your daily energy requirements and contribute to the development of a wide range of health problems. Avoid purchased snacks that contain empty calories as these usually contain added sugar, sodium, and have extra grams of trans fat and saturated fat.
33 worst snack offenders:
- Toaster pasties
- Store bought muffins, mini muffins
- Candy bars
- Chips, cheese puffs, Doritos
- Store bought cookies
- Store bought non organic cereal bars, granola bars, breakfast bars, protein bars
- Packaged cheese crackers, peanut butter & jelly crackers, peanut butter crackers
- Sugary breakfast cereals
- Packaged cheese and crackers combo
- Caramel popcorn
- Colored candy
- Fruit Gushers and Fruit Roll-ups
- Snack cakes
- Juice boxes
- Crackers made with highly processed white flour
- Sports drinks
- Tea drinks
- White cheddar cheese popcorn
- Packaged diet snacks
- Trail mix with candy, added salt and sugar
- Spray cheese
- Honey-roasted salted nuts
- Pork rinds
- Sugary coffee shop drinks
- Banana chips
- Pudding cups
- Packaged fruit cups in sweetened syrup
- Yogurt covered snacks
How We Plan Our Daily Snacks:
Our snacks are usually low in calories, ranging between 100 to 200 calories. Enjoy them two or three times a day but only if you are hungry. If the snack monster doesn’t appear, don’t snack just to be snacking.
Tasty and healthy snack ideas:
- Handful of nuts plus small fruit
- Small fruit plus low-fat cheese
- 100 calorie bag of popcorn plus small fruit or low-fat cheese stick
- Rice cakes with tablespoon of natural peanut butter
- One half cup cottage cheese sprinkled with cinnamon plus fruit, especially berries
- One half cup black beans with salsa plus baked tortilla chips
- Mini whole grain English muffin with low-fat cheese, nitrate free deli meat, or natural peanut butter
- Fruit green smoothie
- Low fat or fat-free Greek yogurt plus berries or sunflower seeds
- Apple slices with natural peanut butter
- One cup jicama sticks with salsa
- Rye crisp cracker plus low-fat cheese like Laughing Cow Spreadable Cheese Wedge or Mini Babybel. Add olive tapenade to satisfy salt cravings
- Small fruit salad
- Homemade granola bar
- Hummus dip with carrot sticks or celery sticks or broccoli
- Half a baked potato or sweet potato with salsa
- Olives, black or green plus a Mini Babybel or string cheese
- Guacamole with variety of raw vegetables
- Deviled eggs
- Applesauce cup plus string cheese
A Word About Parties and Appetizers
Do you love planning which appetizers and hors-d’oeuvres to prepare for your parties and festive occasions? Me too! Pouring through treasured old recipes and exciting new recipes just makes my mouth water.
The next time you are trying to decide which appetizers to make for that upcoming party, keep in mind all those tasty and healthy snacks you have been lovingly making every week for your family. Most snacks are some type of portable finger food that you take with you to work or carry to your desk at home to munch on while you check your emails and social media.
Isn’t that just what you are looking for to serve at a party? Highly portable foods that can be placed on a small plate, carried with you, and eaten with your fingers. Yes, those spiced nuts that you love to munch on make perfect party appetizers. So do those fruit kebabs, that hummus dip, those cucumber chucks stuffed with crab dip, and on and on. You get the picture. Having a party? Think about your favorite snacks!
10 Quick and Easy Tips for Successful Snacking
- Keep a basket or container of fresh fruit like apples, oranges, bananas, plums, apricots, peaches, or pears prominently displayed on your kitchen counter.
- Wash and cut up vegetables before storing in the refrigerator. I like to store veggies in individual zip lock bags, making it extremely handy to grab a bag and quickly remove a few pieces to snack on. Or place a tub of prepared snacking veggies at eye level in your refrigerator.
- Keep plenty of small containers of Greek yogurt on hand for a quick protein rich snack or a grab and go breakfast when heading out the door.
- Stock up on nuts (walnuts, pecans, peanuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios, or mixed) and seeds (pumpkin or sunflower). A small handful goes a long way towards curbing hunger. Hint: Purchase pistachios or sunflower seeds in the shell because having to shell each nut or seed takes forever and makes your snack last so much longer.
- Take the time to dice up fruits like melons and pineapple and display prominently in the refrigerator.
- Got a craving for chocolate? Don’t deny it and stuff yourself with other foods trying to satisfy the craving. Just eat a square or two of the dark stuff as it is much less bad for you than brownies.
- Keep a supply of frozen and canned unsweetened fruits at home and at work for quick and satisfying snacks.
- Keep the enemy out of your house. Common enemies to healthy snacking like candy, cookies, chips, and ice cream are best kept out of the house. If you want to indulge in one of these sweet or salty treats occasionally, go ahead and plan for it, but enjoy the food outside of your home. If you do keep some of these in your home, keep them out of sight in the back of the pantry or freezer.
- When making guacamole, cut the avocado with a ceramic or plastic knife as metal accelerates the oxidation or browning process. Only using half? Rub lemon or lime juice on the exposed surface and store the avocado in an air-tight container. Also, don’t throw away the avocado seed; keep it in the unused avocado half or place it in the center of your guacamole.
- Prepare snacks the night before for taking to work the next day. Cut up red and green peppers to go with hummus. Or count out a snack size serving of grapes (30 grapes is about 100 calories). Put the snacks in containers so they are ready to go in the morning.
Wrapping up on Healthy Snack Ideas
We talked about why healthy snacking is important and reviewed the benefits of snacking. We discussed several healthy snack ideas and looked at a long list of snacks to avoid. We reviewed how we plan our daily snacks. Next we quickly looked at serving snacks as appetizers at parties. Then we gave you several quick and easy tips for successful snacking.
There is so much more we could discuss, but now the choice is yours. You need to decide if you want to eat healthy snacks and how often to eat them. Here’s to keeping healthy snacks handy at work and home so you can avoid those annoying gurgling and bubbling sounds. Let us know if you have any questions.
Need more information for healthy snack ideas? Below are a few articles for you to check out.
Sources and Enlightening Reading
Nuts and Seeds by Veghealthguide
Dark Chocolate: The Perfect Snack for Stress Relief and Heart Health by T. Jared Bunch, MD from Everyday Health
20 Snacks Under 200 Calories by Everyday Health
9 Ideas for Healthy Snacking by Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D., C.D.E. from Lifescript
Top 28 Best Healthy Snacks by Women’s Health
Why Are Healthy Snacks Important? by Jessica Bruso, from Healthy Eating
10 Best Nighttime Snacks For Weight Loss by Stephanie Eckelkamp from Prevention
85 Snack Ideas for Kids (And Adults)! by Lisa Leake from 100 Days of Real Food
Easy Low-Carb Snack Ideas by Laura Marzen, R.D, and Caralee Adams from Diabetic Living on Line
Why Snacks Could be the Secret to Seizing Control of Your Weight! By Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD from Discover Good Nutrition
What 100 Calories Looks Like: Fresh Fruit Edition by Jenny Sugar from Pop Sugar
Snacks: How They Fit into Your Weight-Loss Plan by Mayo Clinic Staff
Get Your Chocolate Fix in 150 Calories or Less by Sharon Tanenbaum from Everyday Health
We Appreciate You!
Thanks for stopping by and letting us share a little about our healthy snacking philosophy.
We are here for you as a guide and as a friend. Let us know how we can help you embrace a healthy lifestyle.
Here’s to lower calorie, great tasting recipes, and living well! And remember, what you eat really matters!
Linda and Steve
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