Does that sound like a contradiction in terms? If yes, well, we’ll have to blame the junk food industry for that. That is since we so often tend to equate the idea of snacks with some quick, on-the-go, instant, packaged foods (in other words, junk food) that may feel good on our palate but doesn’t do a bit of good to our health. Hampers With Bite is one company that is offering healthy and sumptuous snacks.
What is more, they don’t work too well either when it comes to filling us up. This is because most junk foods are high in carbs and carbs typically gets used up by our system pretty quickly, meaning that we’ll start to feel that hunger crave soon enough again. And we won’t even try to go into all the harmful ingredients (read preservatives and stuff) that these junk foods contain and all the adverse effects they can have on our health.
Bottom line: junk foods are a strict no-no, and they are no substitutes for snacks.
What We Mean by Snacks
Let’s be clear on this. Snacks, by definition, are small portions of food that we take between two major meals, and which are meant to keep us filled during that period. Some healthy snack ideas/items also work great as pre- or post-workout diet.
However, here is the key thing to realize, which is that you can prepare countless varieties of snack items that can be extremely healthy, and they don’t necessarily need to be a drag on your palate either. In fact, we don’t recommend that you consume snacks (or any food items for that matter) in a disinterested manner and for their health benefits alone.
This is since healthy eating isn’t only about consuming the right nutrients and in proper calorie counts. Eating, no matter what, ought to make you feel mentally satisfied as well. Just for the sake of instance, you may not be too keen on that morning glass of smoothie, but you gulp it down all the same and you feel a sense of relief once the ordeal is over.
Well, don’t make it an ordeal. In fact, our healthy snack’s philosophy is based on the idea that all the items ought to be tasty as well (if not outright delicious!). And making your healthy snack items taste good actually takes very little. All you need is a little creativity and some experimentation on your part. Let’s take the example of smoothie itself. Instead of going for all veggies, mix in some almond milk or butter, some fruits like dates, half a banana, few slices of pineapples and maybe some whey vanilla protein (nutrients-rich items all) and you have a right delicious glass of smoothies in your hand!
Healthy Snacks for Fit Lifestyle
Therefore, the basic idea of healthy snacks is all about choosing the right ingredients and mixing them in a manner so that the snack meal you are consuming is nutrients-rich; contains the right amount of protein and fiber; is okay in terms of calorie count; keeps you full for a reasonable period; and finally, appears appealing to your taste buds as well.
Two Key Things to Keep in Mind
Although you can prepare healthy snacks with a whole variety of different food items, there are two things you must always be alert about:
- The calorie count. Each individual portion should ideally be in the range of 150-200 calories.
- First and foremost, the preparation should be high in protein and fiber. Try to make portions containing about 4-6 grams of fiber and 8-10 grams of protein. This is somewhat of a rough recommendation, and you can vary the range a bit. For example, a snack meal high in protein content will normally contain more than 10 grams of protein. All the same, try to stick close to the recommended amounts for most of your healthy snack preparations.
In addition, in case of processed foods, you must always avoid food items that are high in saturated fats, added sodium, added sugars or sweeteners and preservatives (so, make sure to always check the labels when you shop if you are unsure).
Shop for Healthy Snack Items
Most of the times, shopping for your snack items should be easy enough since you’ll, for the most part, going for whole foods. Which means that there would be little label-checking involved as you pick the items from the shelves.
Now, when it comes to healthy (and tasty) snacks, we recommend that you concentrate and stock on some staple food items such as mixed nuts; dried or frozen fruits; almond and peanut butter; a variety of fruits (mixed berries, bell peppers—especially the red variety, apples, grapefruits, grapes—of the frosted variety, avocado, and others); veggies like peanuts, kale, celery sticks; dairy products such as cottage cheese, cream cheese, yogurt (low-fat, whole milk or just plain yogurt; you may also go for Greek Yogurt for a protein boost or a non-dairy coconut yogurt if you want to keep it low-profile); certain canned fish (we recommend tuna); chickpeas; whole-wheat crackers; shrimp and shellfish; and more, depending on your taste and preferences.
Most of the above ingredients you can either use individually, as the base, or as a mix to prepare a healthy snack. As we’ve already mentioned, the only thing you need to take care of while mixing ingredients is that the prepared snack contains the recommended calorie amount and has the right balance of protein and healthy fibers.
Use dips. Dips (such as avocado-based guacamole or white bean and roasted garlic dip) work great as base items. You can prepare them in batches and can then use them with different items for a quick snack meal. For example, red bell peppers (rich in antioxidants such as quercetin, capasanthin and beta carotene) taste great when paired with guacamole (full of healthy non saturated fat and fiber). Similarly, you can use either the avocado or the white bean dip and spread them on whole-wheat crackers for healthy and quick treats.
Pre-cooked shellfish or shrimp, on the other hand, work great as quick, healthy, and delicious snack options. And if you want to go high on the protein quotient, you can always add some Greek yogurt or avocado with them.
Similarly, you can eat canned tuna (rich in lean protein and omega-3s) either alone or pair them with something else that accords with your taste. Mixed nuts, again, are great options for quick and healthy snacks. As for spread, we love almond butter (rich in calcium, magnesium, Vitamin E and in monosaturated fats). Spread it on wheat-crackers or on a few slices of apples and you have a tasty and filling snack ready on your hand.
As you can see, the choices are aplenty. Do some experiments, mix and match items, and you have a whole host of diverse snack food ideas that you can use as you wish. Many of them also work great as pre- or post-workout snacks.
Keep in mind that all the items mentioned above (and many others as well that you can dig it out for yourself) are rich in different nutrients (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, etc.). Greek yogurt, for example, is a rich source of potassium and calcium. Apples, apart from being rich in fiber, contain polyphenol antioxidants that are known to reduce risks of heart disease and also improve our gut health. So, when you choose your healthy snack combos, you may also take into account the particular nutritional values and health benefits of the items that go into those snack meals or combos.
Shopping the Items
As we’ve already mentioned, shopping for these items is easy enough. When shopping for fruits, veggies, seafood, etc, all you’ll need to do is make sure that you pick fresh produce only. If you’re buying canned veggies, always choose items with lower sodium content or those with no-salt-added labels. As for frozen veggies, choose those that come without added salt, seasonings or sauces. For frozen fruits, make sure to go for ones without added sweeteners. As for canned fish items, we recommend that you choose items preserved in water and not in oil.