Arm yourself against snack attacks with healthy options
Arm yourself against snack attacks with low-cal 'recipes' that will satisfy a sweet tooth or a salty craving
The next time hunger pangs hit, resist the urge to dive into a calorie-packed and nutritiously void nosh.
"The best snack is 150 to 200 calories, is packed with nutrients, and includes whole grains, fiber or protein to provide some staying power," says registered dietitian Heather K. Jones.
Here are 15 wholesome solutions to midafternoon hankerings.
Seedless cucumber slices with low-fat cheese
128 calories for 1/2 cup of cucumber and two slices of low-fat cheese
The next time you crave a marathon munching session, reach for cucumber. A half-cup contains only 8 calories. Pair the veggie with low-fat cheese (a slice packs about 60 calories) for a snack that feels substantial.
Nuts and raw veggies
163 calories for 1 ounce of nuts and 1/2 cup of red pepper slices
The protein and healthy fats in the nuts will help you feel full, while the red pepper will load you up with vitamins A and C. Feel free to substitute the raw vegetable of your choice.
179 calories for 1 cup in the pods
A cup delivers almost 15 grams of protein, as well as significant amounts of fiber and heart-healthy folate. Sprinkle a little salt on, and you'll have a satisfying alternative to other sodium-packed bites.
Rice crackers with wasabi peas
110 calories per ounce
This Asian-style snack mix will settle your urge for something crunchy and salty without piling on the pounds. Plus, the peas provide a few grams of protein.
35 calories each
Instead of grabbing crackers -- which can pack close to 100 calories and 5 grams of fat per serving -- try a popcorn cake. At less than 40 calories a pop, you can afford to top one with two slices of low-fat cheese or a tablespoon of peanut butter without exceeding 200 calories.
Low-fat cottage cheese with strawberries
149 calories for 5 ounces of cottage cheese and 1 cup of strawberries
Step away from the cheesecake, and opt for this combo. The protein and fat from the cottage cheese will quiet hunger, while the strawberries serve up all the vitamin C you need for the day. Pro tip: Choose an individual container of low-sodium cottage cheese to help control portion size.
Cherries and chocolate pudding
144 calories for 1/2 cup of cherries and 3.5 ounces of chocolate pudding
The next time your sweet tooth tugs you toward something rich, dunk some cherries in chocolate pudding. At about 100 calories per cup, it's a waistline-friendly alternative to other sugary treats. The cherries add fiber and vitamin C to the mix.
Red grapes and cheese
159 calories for 1/2 cup (about 12) red grapes and 1 ounce of pecorino cheese
This sweet-and-salty pairing won't tip the scale. The cheese adds protein, while the grapes offer traces of vitamins C and K.
Sliced pear topped with chopped walnuts and honey
174 calories for a medium-size pear, 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts and 1 teaspoon honey
The pear is full of fiber and vitamins, while the walnuts shell out heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
Greek yogurt with honey and whole-grain cereal
175 calories for 6 ounces of low-fat plain Greek yogurt, 1 teaspoon of honey and 2 tablespoons of whole-grain cereal
If you can't decide whether you're craving something sweet, crunchy or creamy, reach for this combo. It'll quiet your rumbling tummy with protein and fiber. Just make sure you select a cereal that's low in sugar and high in fiber, and that has a whole grain as one of its first ingredients, such as Cheerios.
Banana with peanut butter
199 calories for 1 medium banana and 1 tablespoon peanut butter
These two foods go together so well. You'll bolster your health with the banana's potassium, magnesium, and vitamins B6 and C. You'll also get a dose of heart-healthy fats from the peanut butter.
Cashew nuts and pomegranate seeds
170 calories for 2 tablespoons of cashews and 1/2 cup of pomegranate seeds
Power up with cancer-fighting pomegranate seeds. In addition to the disease-preventing polyphenols, the ruby-red kernels pack a fair amount of vitamins C and K. Meanwhile, the cashews contain iron, protein and healthy fats.
Popcorn with Parmesan cheese
106 calories for 2 cups of air-popped popcorn and 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese, or 172 calories if using oil-popped popcorn
Low in calories and high in fiber and antioxidants, popcorn is an ideal snack. A sprinkle of Parmesan will add flavor without weighing you down.
Apple slices with brie cheese spread
189 calories for 1 medium apple and 1 ounce of brie
This duo will crush your craving for something sweet and also deliver fiber and antioxidants. Even better, the fruit may prevent strokes, according to Dutch research.
Finn Crisp rye crackers with goat cheese and blueberries
190 calories for 3 crackers, 1 ounce of goat cheese and 1/3 cup of blueberries
A nutritional triple threat, this snack serves up 12 percent of your recommended daily intake of fiber, 6 grams of protein and plenty of cancer-crushing antioxidants.