Simple healthy snack ideas to help keep you satisfied, curb your cravings, and bridge the gap between meals. Plus nutritionist-approved strategies for smarter snacking while at home.
A huge thank you to Mary's Gone Crackers for sponsoring this post. For more epic snacking stock your pantry with gluten-free, delicious crackers from Mary's Gone Crackers. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Abra’s Kitchen!
Snacking is a hot topic in the life of a nutritionist. I've spent countless hours sharing healthy snacking strategies with clients, and I even teach a “Snack Rehab” class for my corporate clients!
I don't find anything inherently wrong with snacking, but I do believe snacking deserves mindfulness. This has never been more true than right now. We are rounding the corner on 8 weeks at home and the number one question clients have been asking during quarantine is about snacking.
What do we do when we are home all day and close to the kitchen? Should I snack? Should I not snack? What should I snack on?
Read on for my healthy snacking strategies while you are home and then dive into my favorite healthy snack recipes and ideas!
HEALTHY SNACKING STRATEGIES
#1 – Ask why
There are many reasons to snack; boredom, hunger, blood sugar imbalance, increased activity, boredom (did I say that one already?), Netflix, and habit, and boredom, and Netflix 😉
Ask yourself why you want a snack. Being able to identify “The Why” puts you on the fast track to better decision making.
- Hungry? Choose a snack with protein
- Bored? Choose a lower calorie snack, or better yet take a break from what you are doing and do something joyful for 10 minutes, then see if you still want a snack.
- Blood sugar balance? Protein + fat
Stretch the space between desire and action: I want a snack ———- here is the snack I want.
Those little dashes are where we create healthy habits. Start with a concrete question – Why do I want a snack? Am I hungry? Bored? etc.
#2 – Have a snack but make it nice
Which would you prefer potato chips on a paper plate or a beautiful snack board?
I wholeheartedly believe that taking an extra 5 minutes to make a snack look appetizing makes all the difference. Allow yourself to engage in a different level of mindful, joyful eating. To be clear, you don't have to spend an hour artfully designing a snack board (although it is truly one of my favorite activities), but you can make an effort beyond opening a protein bar, or eating directly out of a bag. Here are some ideas:
- Compose your snack on a plate. Slice a banana into rounds and drizzle peanut butter on top/ Scoop hummus into a small bowl and stand celery and carrot sticks into the hummus, just like little soldiers
- Add a little garnish to your dip – hummus is great with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of spice like za'atar or Everything but the Bagel Seasoning.
- Play with texture, flavor, and color – Have you tried hummus and apple? Delicious! Have you tried carrot sticks with peanut butter? Delicious! Try savory with sweet and sweet with savory.
Eating mindlessly out of a bag of chips or standing in front of the fridge biting off a hunk from a block of cheese (been there, done that), sends a message that our nourishment is not worth the extra time, our joy and pleasure around food is secondary to the impulse to just eat something.
Take your snack out of the package, put it on a plate, and sit down to eat it.
#3 – The anatomy of a healthy snack
So what exactly makes up a healthy snack? It's pretty simple
- Go for real food first; fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds
- Balance fat, protein, and fiber
- Pay attention to portions (is it a snack or a meal?)
- Deconstruct your cravings – do you want something sweet? salty? crunchy? savory? creamy?
If you are craving something sweet can you add fiber and maybe a little protein? Like a sweet and salty trail mix, or an apple with peanut butter and sprinkled with ground flax seeds.
If the snack is truly a tiny meal it should include protein, fat, and fiber.
HEALTHY SNACK IDEAS!
Ok! Now that we understand how to snack and the anatomy of a healthy snack here are some of my all-time favorite snack recipes and ideas!
HEALTHY SNACK BOARD
I have to start with my all-time favorite way to snack. The ultimate healthy snack board. This is an idea or a technique more than a recipe.
You can make it as simple or elaborate as you'd like, just follow these simple tips:
- Add veggies (necessary!)
- Add a dip of your choice
- Sliced meat or a hunk of cheese? Sure
- Crunchy perfect crackers – necessary!
I am obsessed with Mary's Gone Crackers crackers (do I have to say crackers twice? Unsure). I've also found that crackers are a uniquely universal craving, something crunchy and worthy of a delicious dip or topping.
Mary's has been my cracker of choice for years, I love the super seed line!
- All of Mary’s products are baked in the largest certified gluten-free facility (that we know of) in the world.
- Their snacks contain a shortlist of wholesome ingredients.
- Incredible quality and taste, accomplished by carefully baking whole, organic ingredients to toasted perfection.
- The company was founded by a woman named Mary (Waldner) who, when diagnosed with Celiac disease, couldn’t find anything she could enjoy when dining out with friends. She created a cracker in her kitchen and she shared her creation with her friends. They all agreed she should offer these more broadly, so she started the company to do just that. Thanks, Mary!!!
I make all kinds of snack boards, that can easily morph into lunch or dinner boards (Quarantine snacking can easily turn into snacks as meals, especially with a gorgeous board like this one. You can play around with the board idea a ton, like in my ultimate fall snack board, or my festive holiday dessert board.
Energy bites are the perfect solution to a protein-rich sweet bite. This recipe doesn't contain any added sugar, it is super zesty from the lemon and tastes like little cake balls (thanks to cashews!).
This is one of my very favorite meal prep snacks. Steam several artichokes on the weekend, make a healthy dip and enjoy all week long. Artichokes are a functional food that can help to curb sugar cravings (ahem… the perfect quarantine food!)
Artichokes contain a chemical called cynarin which alters your perception of sweet. Foods and drinks you consume after you eat an artichoke will be perceived as sweeter than they actually are. This can help to curb sugar cravings, balance blood glucose levels, and reduce the amount that you are eating. Give it a try. Eat an artichoke, then drink a glass of water, the water will taste sweet!
I have been known to eat ricotta by the spoonful and I am not at all sorry about it. Turning fresh ricotta cheese into an herby garlic dip for snacking is next-level genius… if I do say so myself.
In a food processor combine 1 cup of ricotta cheese, a large handful of fresh herbs (I used dill, parsley, and chives), 1 garlic clove, and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice. Whirl until super creamy and perfect.
Use Mary's Gone Crackers to dip into that gorgeous ricotta, add some spring veggies on the plate and you have a snack ready for the whole family!
This is the simplest idea and can be made with just about any fruit. I prefer to slice in thin rounds (like chips), top with your favorite nut or seed butter, coconut flakes, chocolate chips, cinnamon, and whatever else you fancy.
- Sweet Potato Nachos – Thin slice sweet potatoes and roast until tender, top with your favorite toppings.
- Mediterranean Cauliflower Nachos
- Sheet Pan Tortilla Nachos
- Banana Nachos – Slice banana's into round and top with your favs
- Mango Nachos – Spread sliced mango on a plate and top with chili powder, cilantro and red onion (this is savory/sweet)
- Berry Nachos – Arrange a variety of berries on a plate, drizzle with melted dark chocolate and coconut flakes
This homemade snack could not be easier and is a client favorite! You can use any nut butter you like and fill with homemade strawberry chia jam or storebought jam. Mix up the recipe using dark chocolate in the middle instead of jam or dark chocolate as the outer layers and minty coconut butter as the filling for a healthy chocolate mint treat!
GET CREATIVE WITH CRACKER TOPPINGS
Using a wholesome cracker as your base (like my favorite Mary's Gone Crackers) and then get creative with a variety of toppings. Here are some of my favorite topping ideas:
- Herbed Ricotta and diced beets tossed in a little bit of balsamic vinaigrette
- Goat cheese and sliced tomato
- Peanut butter and sliced banana
- Hummus and olives
- Cream cheese and green olives
- Matcha cashew butter and blueberries
- Melted chocolate, drizzled tahini, and flaky sea salt
Hummus is the king of snacks, so versatile, perfect for dipping with veggies or crackers, and the best blank slate to add a variety of flavors.
I adore blending roasted beets into hummus and sprinkling with citrusy sumac. I've also made the following hummus varieties:
- Spinach artichoke – blend jarred artichokes and a bit of baby spinach into hummus
- Basil pine nut – blend basil into hummus and top with pine nuts
- Roasted red pepper – blend a handful of roasted red peppers into hummus
- Edamame hummus – Extra protein-rich, blend edamame into hummus
Time and time again I come back to my very favorite classic hummus topped with za'atar spice and extra olive oil. Served with a variety of crackers.
A snack roundup wouldn't be complete without guacamole. I beg you to start making your own. Storebought will never EVER be as good as homemade. It couldn't be simpler, you need a handful of ingredients, and I promise the extra 5 minutes will be so well worth it. Serve guacamole with tortilla chips or raw veggies.
I hope you love this healthy homemade snack roundup. If you make any of these snacks snap a photo and tag me on Instagram @abrapappa or use the hashtag #abraskitchen so I can feature your photo! A big thanks to Mary's Gone Crackers for sponsoring this post!
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