You'll never go hungry with this guide to good-for-you snacks (perfect for back to school!). Also: how to turn snacks into meals
Let's admit it-we all snack. In one recent survey, 76 percent of the people questioned said they snacked, and 42 percent said they replaced one meal a day with snacks. With that much nibbling, it's important to make snacks count.
First, choose munchies wisely. A decent snack should be free of hydrogenated fats, corn syrup, and artificial ingredients. The snack should also contain less sugar and sodium than its conventional counterpart and boast some kind of benefit, such as being gluten-free or containing added fiber. Second, gear your snack toward your needs. Why are you snacking? If you're substituting a snack for lunch, a slab of double-chocolate fudge cake isn't a smart choice. But if you're craving a little nibble of something sweet, a granola bar may fit the bill.
See which pattern your snack attack follows, and then choose a prudent option from that list. You'll feel like one smart cookie.
- Morning munchies: doughnut-and-coffee alternatives. Skip the vending machine and pastry platter, and choose a small, simple tidbit to tide you over until your noontime meal. A wise beverage choice-green tea, yogurt-and-berry smoothie, iced hibiscus tea, almond milk, or sparkling water with a splash of organic juice-will leave you refreshed, with less impact on blood sugar. Smart selections: Lundberg Honey Nut Rice Cakes; Late July Organic Mini Cheddar Cheese Crackers; Country Choice Organic Oatmeal Raisin Bars; Food Should Taste Good Multigrain Chips; Salba Smart Thin Twisted Pretzels; Enjoy Life Gluten-Free Sunbutter Snack Bars; Eden Organic Yellow Popcorn; Sahale Snacks Valdosta Almond Blend.
- No time for lunch: nutritious subs. If you're a meal skipper and substitute snacker, healthful snack choices are especially important. Focus on those with whole-grain fiber, protein, and healthy fats, and round them out with these nutrition-boosting suggestions. Smart selections: Lundberg Flax and Tamari Rice Cakes (add Oskri Organic Tahini Honey Spread and a banana); Late July Classic Rich Crackers (serve with Organic Valley String Cheese and grapes); Justin's Almond Butter pouches (spread it on Mary's Gone Crackers and serve with fresh strawberries); Garden of Eatin' Organic Pita Chips (dip in Guiltless Gourmet Spicy Black Bean Dip, with a side of carrot and celery sticks); Foods Alive Hemp and Organic Flax Gluten-free Crackers (serve with Tribe Organic Hummus and a whole apple).
- Afternoon boost: focus and clarity. When energy levels dip around midday, a well-formulated snack can ensure stamina. Look for those with protein, fiber, and green foods; to keep blood sugar steady, stay away from chocolate-coated or sugar-sweetened bars. Smart selections: Country Choice Organic Maple Oatmeal Bars; Justin's Organic Honey-Peanut Butter pouches; Bora Bora Organic Tiki Blueberry Antioxidant Bar; PowerBar Protein Plus Bar; Organic Food Bar Active Greens; Pure Bar Organic Cherry Cashew Bar; Sahale Snacks Soledad Almond and Dried Fruit Blend.
- Just a treat: sweet tooth appeal. The need-a-treat snack attack usually hits after dinner and into the evening. True, late-night nibbling isn't a healthful habit, but when you've just gotta have something sweet, choose a gluten-free, organic version of your favorite treat, and look for those with short ingredients lists. Even better, stick to dried fruit and nuts for a more nutritious solution to midnight munchies. And keep portions modest: tiny cookies, a small handful of dried fruit, four or five chocolate-covered nuts. Smart selections: Late July Organic Mini White Chocolate Cream Cookies; Grace's Best Petite Cookies; Pamela's Gluten-Free Ginger Mini Snapz Cookies; Stretch Island Organic Mango Sunrise Smooshed Fruit Leather; Sahale Snacks Cashews with Pomegranate and Vanilla.
- Picnics and parties: crunchy fun. Parties, picnics, barbecues, and other gatherings call for snacks with crowd appeal. Choose lower-sodium chip options, gluten-free and high-fiber crackers, and naturally sweetened cookies, and pair them with whole-food options-guacamole, hummus, salsa, organic cheese, whole fruit, and raw vegetables-for extra nutrition. Smart snacks: Terra Exotic Vegetable Chips; Kettle Spicy Thai Potato Chips; Garden of Eatin' Organic Baked Potato Chips; Food Should Taste Good Olive Tortilla Chips; Guiltless Gourmet Spinach Artichoke and Parmesan Chips; Salba Smart Baked Bar-B-Que Potato Crisps; Boulder Canyon Hickory Barbeque Potato Chips; Mary's Gone Crackers Sticks & Twigs Organic Chipotle Tomato Snacks; Newman's Own Organic Tequila Lime Salsa; Frontera Chipotle Salsa.
Boulder Canyon Hickory Barbeque Potato Chips have zero trans fat, zero cholesterol, and zero gluten-hard to believe once you taste these incredibly sweet, savory, smokey tasting snacks.
Eden Organic Yellow Popcorn is not your greasy, fake butter-laden movie theater popcorn. This healthy popcorn tastes great, and is low in fat and calories and high in fiber. Pops up big and fluffy, too!
Pure Bar Organic Cherry Cashew Bar is perfect for when you're craving something sweet yet tart. Made with dried, unsweetened, organic tart cherries, organic cashews, walnuts, almonds, and organic dates. Make it your go-to snack.
Lundberg Flax and Tamari Rice Cakes are the perfect gluten- and wheat-free, vegan, kosher snack. Not only yummy, they're made with freshly milled brown rice and sprinkled with omega-3-rich ground flax seed.