You eat a healthy breakfast, you’re up to the task of choosing a nutritious lunch and dinners? They’re a walk in the park. So why oh why is it so difficult to find a snack that’s healthy AND fills you up?
First of all let me tell you – you are not alone. I’ve been looking at food diaries with my current eight-Week Challenge group, and all of the girls agree that snacking is where they struggle the most. And to be fair, healthy snacks are HARD. There’s just so much stuff out there that pretends to be healthy, but is hiding a whole host of added sugars or sweeteners to make it taste good. Or it’s a seven-step recipe. SEVEN steps! For a snack! No, thank you. My personal opinion around choosing a healthy snack is that it pays to keep things simple. You can keep your complex recipe methodology for people who have more time (and more talent) than me. Yep, I prefer to keep things as close to their natural state as possible, mainly because it reduces my workload.
Which brings me to…
1. Fresh Fruit
I love fruit and I choose to enjoy many different types of it in many different scenarios. Not all fruits are created equal though, so for the purposes of this post I’m just giving you my own personal top three snacking fruits. So here goes:
Bananas – these guys are an excellent source of energy, high in Vitamin B6, as well as potassium and fibre. I often have a banana mid morning or immediately following a workout.
Apples – apples are a great source of fibre and Vitamin C and they help your body to regulate blood sugar. They’re super satiating and due to this (and their sweetness) I have one nearly every day as a mid-afternoon snack.
Blueberries – I actually love all berries, but if I had to pick only one I would go for these little balls of joy. Blueberries are packed full of Vitamin K, Manganese, Fibre and Vitamin C, and their antioxidant count is high. A punnet has a pretty low calories count too, if you’re worried about that sort of thing. I have a handful on my oats every day, and I’m not averse to a half a cup or so with a good dollop of yoghurt when the mood strikes me.
2. Full Fat Greek or Natural Yoghurt
As far as healthy snacks go yoghurt is the bomb diggity, thanks to its low GI rating and protein content. Avoid any flavoured versions (and yes, vanilla is a flavour sorry team) or any with added fruit as it will just mean added sugar. Check your labels and aim for a sugar content of around 5g/100g of sugar or less. Personally I like Jalna and Tamar Valley for the flavour and texture. Chobani is also an excellent choice but it has quite a distinct flavour that not everyone is into, so be warned.
3. Raw Unsalted Nuts
Nuts contain around 10-20% protein, which is a similar amount to what’s found in eggs. This makes them an excellent source of protein for vegetarians and vegans. Nuts are also a good source of fibre and are low GI, which means they’ll keep you fuller for longer. Do remember that they tend to have high levels of (healthy) fats though, which pushes the energy count up. Basically; make sure you eat them in moderation. Check out this article, which breaks down the specific nutrient content of each nut.
I know, I know – oats are traditionally a breakfast food. But stay with me. 1/3 cup oats contains only around 100 calories, a fair dose of fibre, is low GI and contains next to no sugar. I love them as a healthy pre-workout snack, especially if I’m heading out for a run of 10km or more. For convenient snacking, I soak 1/3 cup oats in water in a jar (you want the water just covering the oats) and leave for a few hours or overnight. I often add a little Isowhey Superfood Powder for a little extra punch (plus I like the colour it turns them). Alternatively you can add a pinch of cinammon, a small handful of berries or a spoonful of yoghurt… play around with flavours until you find something you like, just avoid the obvious honey/sugar additions.
There’s nothing better than a bowl of popcorn, but those store-bought microwave versions are chock full of fat and other additives, and the buckets you buy at the movies? Well I don’t want to frighten you with the details but rest assured you don’t want to be digging into those very often… or ever, really. Luckily it’s super simple to make your own on the stovetop at home using just a dash of olive oil, or you can use one of those air popping machines if you happen to be super fancy. There’s less than 100 calories per 25 gram serve (which is actually quite a decent amount of popcorn!) and the sugar count is down at 0.1grams. Play around with some spices for a little something different.
6. Hummus with Vegetables
Hummus is not a low calorie food, but it does pack a nutritional punch thanks in large part to its main ingredient, chickpeas. Full of protein, fibre, good fats and energy, hummus is a great choice when you’re feeling particularly hungry. I like to pair it with a handful of chopped veggies (carrots and celery are my faves)… that way I know I’m getting bonus nutrition from what is essentially my hummus carrier.
OK guys, that’s my own personal top six healthy snacks, but keep in mind I’m not a dietitian, so all I can do is tell you what works for me. If you have any other low maintenance healthy snacks I would love to hear about them! Hit me up in the comments below and I’ll love you forever.