Healthy Snacking

April 17, 2018

It’s three o’clock in the afternoon and your tummy is rumblin’!  You’ve already had lunch, and dinner is still a few hours away.  It’s time for a snack!  Snacks are great opportunities to continue and reinforce healthy eating habits.  But when you feel those hunger pangs between meals, it can be easy to reach for a convenient, less healthy option.  So let’s talk about what healthy snacking means and what healthy snacks can look like!

Why Do We Snack?

Snacks are important.  They can help us keep our energy levels up, stave off hunger, and prevent us from overeating at our next meal.

Read the Label!

When we are buying snack foods, it’s important to read the label to see if a food is going to actually do what a snack is supposed to do.  There are three key things to look for on a food label regarding snacks: fat content, sugar content, and serving size.  An ideal snack is low in both saturated fat and added sugar.  Current dietary guidelines recommend that we consume less than 10% of our daily calories from added sugars and less than 10% of our daily calories from saturated fats. 

It’s also super important to check the serving size!  This is located at the top of the food label.  It will tell you the quantity of the food item that the nutrition information refers to—and will give you a guideline for how much to eat in one sitting.

Making Your Own Snacks: Snack Pairs

Making your own snacks is a great option because it helps you control the ingredients (and therefore the fat and sugar content) that goes into them.  And you can tailor them to your preferences!  When you’re making your own snacks, think in “snack pairs.”  Snack pairs are snacks that contain foods from two food groups.  Ideally, these pairs are a protein and a carbohydrate.  This combination will help keep you more satiated for a longer period of time—more so than a snack that includes only one food group.  Some examples of healthy snack pairs include:

  • Apple with nut butter, raw nuts, or string cheese
  • Veggies with hummus, roasted chickpeas, low-fat dressing, or avocado
  • Celery with peanut or almond butter
  • Banana with peanut butter
  • Low-fat cottage cheese with peaches or mixed fruit*
  • Plain, low-fat yogurt with mixed berries and/or nuts
  • Make your own trail mix (almonds, walnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds, dried fruit*: cranberries, blueberries, apricots, or banana chips)
  • Hard-boiled egg with cheese or fruit* or applesauce
  • Tuna or avocado and whole grain crackers
  • Fruit and veggie smoothie
  • Whole grain toast or crackers with peanut butter
  • Homemade granola or no-bake energy bites

*If using a mixed fruit cup or dried fruit, choose the “no sugar added” varieties

Healthy and Delicious Snack Recipes

Try some of these healthy and yummy snack recipes from the Kitchen!

Curry, Carrot, and White Bean Spread:

Super Smoothie:

Garlic Hummus:

Homemade Corn Tortilla Chips:

No-Bake Granola Bites:

Peanut Butter & Jelly Granola Bars:

Pico de Gallo:

Roasted Chickpeas:

Seven Layer Lentil Dip:

Strawberry Mango Guacamole: