6 Healthy Snack Ideas, Plus Smart Snacking Tips
These six nutritious snacks prove healthy is delicious! Plus tips for choosing healthy, filling snacks to fuel you through the day.
As a Registered Dietitian, people ask me all about snacks. Are they good for us? How often should we have them? What are some healthy snack ideas? Snacking is ingrained in American food culture from the time we are little kids. We are bombarded by snack advertisements in the media every single day. From fruit roll ups to 100 calorie packs, this post will help you weed through the media messages and give you nourishing, filling, and simple snack ideas.
Table of Contents
- Is snacking good or bad?
- Tips for making healthy snack choices
- 6 healthy snack ideas
Is Snacking Good or Bad?
Like most questions about nutrition, the answer to this one is not black and white. Snacking is neither inherently good nor bad, and it may benefit some people more than others. Remember that our nutrition needs are highly individualized, and what works for one person may not work for the next.
Snacking has been studied as it relates to weight status, blood sugar level, and hunger prevention. Overall, snacking is probably not necessary for the average person to maintain weight status OR maintain stable blood sugar levels throughout the day. However, studies show that snacking may prevent hunger, and therefore prevent overeating at mealtimes later on.
Given this research, it is important to consider a few things when snacking. First, contemplate your motivation for snacking. Are you craving food because you are truly hungry, or does it relate to an emotion like boredom or stress?
Second, snacking is highly individualized. A very active person will probably benefit from more frequent snacking, as they are naturally expending more calories than a sedentary person. Finally, it’s WHAT you snack on that really matters. Consuming balanced snacks, just like balanced meals, will have positive effects on weight, blood sugar level, and hunger prevention.
How to Make Healthy Snack Choices
Here are some of my tips for making mindful, balanced snack choices:
- First and foremost, tune in to see if you are truly feeling hungry. Many of us, myself included, fall into emotional eating to satisfy a need that is not based on hunger. Take a step back before reaching for a snack to determine your motivating factor. If you find you’re not really hungry, try to identify the emotions and feelings leading you to want to snack. Whether it’s boredom, sadness, or something else, think if there is anything else that may help make you feel better. Maybe it’s a walk outside in the sunshine or calling up your best friend.
- Be mindful of portion size. Snacks are not meant to be as energy dense as meals. A good size snack that will be satisfying and filling for most people is usually around 200 calories. Of course, this may vary based on age, gender, activity level, health goals, and other factors.
- Start with fiber. Fiber is a nutrient many Americans don’t eat enough of. Since it slows digestion and absorption of nutrients, fiber helps keep us full. The health benefits of fiber are numerous, which include promoting gut health, lowering cholesterol, and keeping our bowel movements regular. Use high fiber foods as your starting point for a balanced snack, such as whole fruit, whole grain products, or vegetables.
- Add protein and/or healthy fats. Pairing your fiber-rich snack with some protein or healthy fats will further help slow down digestion and keep you fuller for longer. For those looking for snacks to help regulate blood sugar levels, choosing higher protein snacks seems to be best, based on research. Choose proteins like yogurt, egg, nuts/nut butter, and seeds, and healthy fats like avocado, olives or nuts/nut butter. The combination of fiber + protein/healthy fats makes us feel more satisfied, so we are less likely to keep reaching for more.
- Make it simple and tasty. Snacks shouldn’t take you tons of time or energy to prepare – you’ve got other things to get done during the day! Keep it simple, and make sure your snack is enjoyable 🙂
An ideal healthy snack that is filling, satisfying, and tastes good will have fiber, protein, and healthy fats. Just like your main meals, snacks should have a balance of macronutrients to maximize nutritional benefits.
Six Healthy Snack Ideas
You’re going to love these easy healthy filling snacks! I love to keep my pantry and fridge stocked with healthy snack foods such as nuts, fresh fruits and vegetables, nut butter, eggs, Greek yogurt, and popcorn. When your kitchen is filled with healthy snack foods, you can make easy healthy snack recipes in a snap!
Cut a small apple into wedges. Drizzle with 1-2 tbsp nut butter and add 1/4 cup of your favorite granola, and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Serve with ¼ cup low fat yogurt for dipping.
With this snack, you’re getting filling fiber from the apple, protein and healthy fats from the nut butter, and protein from the Greek yogurt.
Mini Protein Box
This is a totally customizable snack. Mix and match different sources of fiber, protein, and healthy fats. Some examples include a hard boiled egg + small handful of nuts + 3-5 strawberries, or ½ cup grapes + 1 string cheese + 5 whole grain crackers.
With the example pictured, you’re getting high quality protein from the hard boiled egg and nuts, fiber from the strawberries and nuts, and lots of healthy fat from the nuts.
Popcorn Trail Mix
2 cups air popped popcorn + ¼ cup of your favorite trail mix makes for a voluminous, portable snack that is great for munching. Popcorn and nuts are both good sources of dietary fiber and nuts provide protein and healthy fats to help make this snack even more filling.
1 cup of steamed and lightly salted edamame is the perfect snack, as it contains fiber, protein, and healthy fats! To make this snack, just steam or boil frozen shelled edamame for about five minutes. Sprinkle with salt and toasted sesame seeds.
Guacamole Stuffed Peppers
A refreshing snack to much on in warmer months. To make quick guacamole, mash up a ripe avocado with a squeeze of lime juice + a dash of both salt and garlic powder. Top bell pepper slices with guacamole and enjoy!
With this snack, you’re getting plenty of fiber from both the pepper and avocado, and lots of healthy fats from the avocado.
Chocolate Coconut Energy Balls
These little energy balls are delicious, easy to make, and portable for on-the-go snacking. Filled with nuts, dates, coconut, and cacao powder, they only take 10 minutes to whip up. They taste incredibly decadent and dessert-like, so if you’ve got a sweet tooth, this is the easy and healthy snack for you!
These no bake energy balls are vegan, gluten free, dairy free, and soy free.
What makes these balls a healthy snack? They’ve got fiber from the dates and oats. Healthy fats and protein come from cashews and coconut. Plus, they’ve got a boost of antioxidants from the cacao powder! One or two of these little guys will tide you over until your next meal.
How to make chocolate coconut energy balls
Blend everything up in the food processor until well combined. You want a grainy yet sticky consistency. You may need to scrape down the sides of the food processor bowl a few times to get everything to mix up evenly.
Form one large ball with the mixture, then break off 1 tablespoon sized smaller pieces. Roll these into small balls, then roll in more shredded coconut to coat, if desired. This recipe makes 10-12 energy balls.
You can store leftover chocolate coconut energy balls in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.
Medjool dates nutrition benefits
Dates are packed with nutrition! Medjool dates, which are used in this recipe, have a sweet and caramel flavor. Just two medjool dates provides:
- 3.2 grams of dietary fiber
- 19 percent of your daily copper needs
- 7 percent of your daily potassium needs
- 6 percent of your daily magnesium needs
Cashews nutrition benefits
Cashews are a highly nutrient dense food to include in your diet. A one ounce serving of cashews has:
- 5 grams of plant-based protein
- 1 gram of dietary fiber
- An excellent source of manganese, magnesium, and copper
- A good source of iron, phosphorus, selenium, thiamine, and zinc
Cashews are also rich in unsaturated fats, which can help reduce the risk of heart disease and lower “bad” LDL cholesterol.
Most energy balls are a healthy and filling snack because they contain nutrient dense ingredients like nuts, seeds, oats, and dried fruit with minimal added sugar. These chocolate coconut energy balls will be your new favorite healthy snack!Print
These chocolate coconut balls are full of fiber, protein, healthy fats, and antioxidants. They’re a sweet and delicious healthy snack. Plus 5 more healthy snack ideas to try!
- Combine all ingredients in a food processor.
- Blend together for 3-5 minutes, until a sandy, grainy consistency is reached. Scrape down the edges of the bowl occasionally, if necessary.
- Remove “dough” from food processor and use your hands to form a large ball. Break off ~1 tbsp sized pieces and roll into 10-12 smaller balls.
- Roll each ball in additional shredded coconut, if desired.
Best stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Keywords: chocolate coconut balls, coconut, healthy snacks, healthy snack ideas
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