Often when healthy snacks are suggested, the go-to is a handful of almonds, or some veggie sticks – how friggin boring right? If you still want healthy options for your snacks but want to enjoy them too, I’ve got your back, Jack! There’s a whole world of tasty snacks for you to explore, and they’re incredibly easy to fit into your way of life.
Well, for starters, they’re easy. Most of the time they’re cheap and if done right, they’re little bursts of healthiness spattered into your day. If you’re not into eating big salads, at the very least, they can act as a great unassuming springboard into having a nourishing diet in the long term. Snacks are also pretty fun to eat, so are a great excuse to get creative with your food. Perfect for anyone who feels a little time poor but still wants to look after themselves.
So many of us skip meals in favour for getting a job done and being busy, but at the very least you ensure your snacks are loaded with the good stuff, you can get some nutrition in and help yourself get those tasks completed from a much more focused and well-fueled mindset.
Creating a healthy snack
These are a few important things to consider when creating a healthy snack:
Probably the most important aspect of a healthy snack is that its going to provide your body with enough energy to sustain your performance and concentration throughout the day. It needs to be high protein with some carbohydrates and fats to give the body the fuel it needs to keep going. Protein can be found in eggs, legumes (lentils, chickpeas, beans), meats, fish, poultry, dairy, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
Foods high in sugar may give you an instant energy hit in the moment, but that sugar rush is followed by a huge dip in your energy, decreasing your energy, your concentration, and putting a lot of pressure on the organ in charge of regulating your blood sugar; your pancreas. Meaning you are more susceptible to Type 2 Diabetes.
So. Not. Worth. It.
This is why steering clear of the high sugar options (muffins, chocolate bars, muesli bars, etc) is so important.
When a food is described as ‘nutrient dense’, it means that it has a high vitamin a mineral content, basically. Each process in the body requires various vitamins and minerals in order to occur, and most of us don’t even reach our minimum requirements on a daily basis. Whole foods are the way to go here, as is having a wide variety of foods. The best way to think of it is that if you are eating a wide variety whole foods, you provide your body with a wide variety of nutrients.
While there are those few people who love nothing more than getting in the kitchen, not everyone has the passion to spend hours creating a raw vegan “cheesecake” from scratch every week. That doesn’t mean you should miss out on eating healthy food, and I’m definitely not about to let you start now!
Easy snacks are essential for the time poor, and some of these options are even easier than going to your local cafe to grab a muffin (while being much better for you instead).
Let’s be honest, if it doesn’t taste good, there is no way you’re going to keep eating it – plain and simple. But taste is so much more than sugar and salt. The more you experiment with these sorts of foods, your tastebuds change and eventually you will enjoy a different flavour palate, more suited to that created by whole, natural foods.
Variety is, after all, the spice of life!
- Boiled eggs (either on their own or chopped up and mixed with butter, avo, salsa or homemade mayo and eaten with a spoon). My Mum used to boil an egg and chop it up with real butter in a mug as my “special” scrambled eggs. You better believe I felt super-special when she made it for me! (How rad is my Mum?)
- Top pumpernickel toast with yummy toppings – my favourite is ricotta/nut cheese with fig, walnut and a drizzle of rice malt syrup, but go nuts! The world is your oyster!
- Leftover chicken drumstick or chicken wing from last night’s roast
- Chia pudding – 2 tablespoons of chia mixed with a milk or yoghurt of choice, left to sit for 30 minutes and topped with fruit (I have two recipes here and here)
- Tinned red salmon with crackers
- Vegetable sticks with homemade avocado/guacamole, hummus, sardine tapenade, mushroom tapenade, pesto
- Corn/bean chips with fresh salsa, guacamole, Mexican bean dip, hummus
- Brown rice/quinoa/buckwheat sushi rolls with fresh salmon and avocado
- Seedy crackers with avocado, nut spread or pate
- Thick sliced leg ham/corned beef/roasted meat of your choice, with mayo/mustard and pickled cucumbers (wrap a chunk of pickle in the ham with a dollop of mayo/mustard)
- Peanut butter/nut spread/tahini and celery sticks – simply wash, cut and spread. And if that is too much effort for you, you can just dip the celery straight into the nut butter instead. Just make sure you get natural nut/peanut butter, which should have no more ingredients than the nuts (and sometimes the salt). You can top these with sprouts of your choice for extra veg/protein content and flavour.
- Hummus with fresh veggie sticks – make your own hummus in bulk and store it in snack sized containers to grab and go with fresh vegetable sticks (carrot, celery, zucchini, cucumber, capsicum, green beans, snow peas, broccoli, cauliflower)
- Apple slices with tahini/peanut butter/nut spread – I like to take a knife and a little pot of spread along with me so the slices are extra fresh, but if this isn’t an option, just make sure you squeeze a little lemon juice on the slices to keep them from browning. You may like to mix through cinnamon or raw cacao in the spread if you want a different flavour
- Homemade popcorn with your choice of spices – Grab some corn kernels in a paper bag (roll the end up) and put them in the microwave for 3-4 minutes. You can then add melted butter, coconut oil, salt and herbs and spices (including cacao for a sweet option, or chilli for a spicy/savoury option). Garlic powder is a favourite option to add to the mix for me.
- Activated salt & vinegar almonds – soak a bag of almonds overnight in water and a pinch of salt. Drain and toss in 50mL apple cider vinegar and 1tb salt and spread in one even layer on an oven tray. Dry in the oven for 12-24 hours on the lowest oven setting and store in a glass jar in the freezer
- Coconut or Natural yoghurt with fruit and mixed nuts/seeds – for a sweet treat that isn’t too rich, simply top your yoghurt with fruit (banana, kiwi, berries, pomegranate, apple, pear) and raw nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts, pistachio, cashew, macadamia, pecan, brazil, chia, pepitas, sesame, sunflower)
- Veggie Chips – either thinly slice vegetables of your choice with a mandolin or chop into long sticks. In a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and sea salt, mixing until completely covered. Lay evenly spread onto a baking tray and bake at 200°C until golden brown. You may like to use zucchini, heirloom carrots, beetroot, kale, sweet potato, potato, daikon, parsnip, or pumpkin, just make sure you keep the skin on – that’s where all the nutrients are!