Snack cravings often hit when we’re tired, stressed, or bored. Instead of listening to what our bodies are saying, like “I want more sleep,” we hear “I could really go for some chocolate.” Fight these unhealthy inclinations by having a range of healthy snack options in mind, without sacrificing flavour.
Here are 9 healthy snacks you can prepare yourself, so you know exactly what you’re getting.
Try: Nuts/Trail Mix
The trick to maximising the health benefit of nuts is to make sure you don’t go…well, nuts. These little parcels of goodness may be high in fat and calories, but they’re packed with protein, fibre, and omega-3s.
Nuts will make you feel full and slow down your cravings for empty calories, like the ones found in lollies. Stick to a small handful of raw nuts once a day and you should be fine.
For easy access to this healthy snack, make your favourite trail mix in batches. Throw in some dried fruits, unsalted nuts, and a few dark chocolate nibs if you like. But keep the latter to a minimum!
Craving: Bagel with cream cheese
Try: Avocado on crackers
A bagel with cream cheese may be tasty, but it’s doing very little for you in terms of nutrition. Swap this calorie sandwich for slices of avocado on crackers or a slice of whole wheat toast.
To really up the ante, squeeze lime over the top and add cracked pepper. Suddenly you’ve got a simple, delicious snack that is actually good for you. Avocados contain over 20 vitamins and minerals—not something that can be said for bagels!
Craving: Muesli bar
Try: Making your own
Hear us out! Yes, it is more time-consuming to make your own muesli bars, but they’re not as complicated as you may think.
Search the internet to find recipes with as little as five ingredients, and not one of them is high-fructose corn syrup, chocolate, or sugary yogurt topping. Take a bit of time on a Sunday to whip up a batch and enjoy them all week long.
If you prefer, another option is homemade protein balls. Not only are these delicious and nutritious – they are significantly cheaper than the store or cafe-bought options. Simply combine protein powder, natural nut butter (of your choice), honey and rolled oats. You can also add chopped dates, almond meal, desiccated coconut or a touch of dark chocolate (depending on preferred taste and consistency).
There are a tonne of quick recipes available online. Some require a blender, while others require no food processing at all. For the latter, check out these gluten-free goodies.
Craving: Buttered popcorn
Try: Stove-top popcorn with Cajun spice
Movie night just isn’t complete without a big bowl of hot, buttered popcorn, right? Well, not exactly. A single bag of microwave popcorn has around 400 calories and lots of yucky chemical additives.
There’s no reason to give up popcorn, because you can whip up a healthier version right on your stove-top! Pop some kernels in a pot, follow the instructions, and within minutes you’ll have lovely, air-popped popcorn ready for snacking on. Add extra flavour by tossing your popcorn in Cajun spice!
Craving: Mid-afternoon chocolate hit
Try: Banana with peanut butter
It’s hard to replace chocolate, but we’re going to try. Instead of a quick sugar hit that leaves you crashing hard, go for a banana with natural peanut butter. The sweet and salty flavours taste great without the guilt of a big slab of chocolate.
This snack works with any kind of nut butter, like almond or cashew. Don’t like bananas? Try it with an apple, or any of your other favourite fruits.
Craving: Potato chips
Try: Roasted chickpeas
Potato chips may have a vegetable in the name, but that’s about all they’ve got going for them, health-wise. These moreish snacks will probably leave you feeling worse afterwards, so put down the bag and opt for roasted chickpeas instead.
Chickpeas are legumes high in fibre and protein. Yep – these guys require preparation ahead of time – but it’s worth the effort. Drain a can of chickpeas and pat dry, then roast in the oven for 30 minutes at 200 degrees or until crunchy. Toss them in a spice of your choosing and store in an airtight container for up to a week. Yum!
Try: Cold ginger tea
If you haven’t already heard, a 375ml can of Coke contains a whopping nine teaspoons of sugar. Even diet versions can be harmful to your health, thanks to high levels of acids and additives. Wean yourself off the fizzy stuff with a good-for-you drink with zing: cold ginger tea.
Fill a pot with water and boil with a handful of chopped fresh ginger for 20 minutes. Squeeze in some lemon juice, let cool, and strain into a heatproof drink bottle. Refrigerate your tea for two hours or overnight.
Craving: Fruit yogurt
Try: Plain Greek yogurt with fresh fruit
There’s a reason fruity yogurt tastes so good, and that’s the high sugar content. It lends an unnatural sweetness to an otherwise healthy snack, and makes it more like a dessert.
Keep your yogurt in the snack category by choosing plain Greek yogurt and adding fresh fruit of your choice. It may not give you the flavour you’re used to, but soon your taste buds will start appreciating the natural sweetness that comes from real fruit. A small drizzle of honey will help to sweeten up Greek yogurt while you’re weaning off the unnatural stuff.
Craving: Ice cream
Try: Frozen banana blend
Making ice cream out of bananas may sound as far-fetched as turning water into wine, but once you try it you’ll never look back. Slice 2-3 ripe bananas, arrange slices onto a plate, and freeze until solid. Put frozen banana pieces into a strong blender. Pulse, stopping to scrape along the sides, until the frozen bananas reach the consistency of frozen yogurt.
Voila! Dairy-free banana ice cream. Add toppings of your choice, like coconut flakes or granola.
The secret to making the transition to healthy snacks is in forming a new habit. Don’t think about what you’re losing, think about what you’re gaining—good health, more energy, better moods, and a whole lot of tasty new snack options.