**Happy Valentine’s Day! I’m still in Brazil (if all goes as planned, I’m now in Trancoso). I’m excited to share another great guest post with you for today’s Foodie Friday. Enjoy!**
Hello friends of The Lyons’ Share Wellness! I’m Caroline, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, freelance writer, media spokesperson, and blogger at Sweet Foodie. I believe that good nutrition should be stress-free and fun! Megan and I were sorority sisters at Harvard and recently reconnected over our shared passion for wholesome food and healthy living.
Speaking of wholesome food, we thought it’d be helpful if I shared some of my favorite snack tips and recipes for the workweek. With a little prep, you can eat healthy all week long. Nourishing snacks help you stay awake and alert at your desk, have energy for post-work exercise, and avoid nighttime bingeing.
What are healthy snacks?
#1. They’re Balanced: Choose a mix of foods that are close to their natural state and provide at least two of three of these components: complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and protein. Carbohydrates are your body’s main energy source (and your brain’s favorite fuel) and the fiber in complex carbs helps keep you full, prevents cancer, and regulates your bowel movements; healthy fats improve blood cholesterol levels, decrease risk of heart disease, and help you absorb certain vitamins and minerals; and protein is satisfying, important for muscle repair and growth, and may bump up your metabolism to burn extra calories.
Healthy sources of complex carbs, healthy fats, and protein:
- Complex Carbs: (if there’s a label, look for at least 3g fiber per serving): Whole grain bread, cereal, crackers, tortillas, flatbreads, English muffins, frozen waffles; cooked whole grains (quinoa, brown rice, bulgur, barley); oats; whole grain corn tortillas; popcorn; baked potatoes; canned pureed pumpkin; fruit (fresh, frozen, or dried); vegetables (fresh, frozen, or freeze-dried); canned beans; hummus
- Healthy Fats: Nuts and nut butters; Seeds and seed butters; ground flax seeds; flax oil; chia seeds; avocado; olives; olive oil
- Protein: Low-fat dairy (milk, plain Greek yogurt, plain yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese); calcium-fortified soy milk; canned beans; canned fish like tuna and salmon; edamame; soy nuts
(Remember: Snacks should combine food from at least 2 categories).
#2. They’re Big Enough: Don’t skimp on snacking with 100 calorie packs of processed sugar air. Choose nourishing snacks that are 150-200 calories if you’re following a diet below 2,000 calories/day, or 200-250 calories if your calorie needs are over 2,000 calories/day.
#3: They Fit Into Your Lifestyle: Pick snacks that taste good to you, look appealing, and are easy for you to prepare, assemble, and/or carry. Experiment with different combinations and find out what you like the best.
Here’s a list of healthy ~150-200 calorie snacks that are easy to assemble with just a few ingredients you can keep at work, or grab and go on your way out the door.
- 1/2 cup guacamole + 1 medium bell pepper, sliced
- 1 hardboiled egg + 15 Kashi 7 Grain crackers
- 2 Fiber Wasa Crispbreads + 2 tablespoons hummus + 1/2 cup sliced cucumber
- 1 plain non-fat Greek yogurt + 1 teaspoon honey + 12 roasted almonds
- 1 medium apple + 2 tablespoons natural nut butter
- 1 part-skim mozzarella cheese stick + 12 Kashi 7 Grain crackers
- 1 cooked sweet potato (5″ size) + 1/2 container of Greek yogurt + sprinkle of cinnamon, mashed
- 1 Doctor Kracker Klassic 3 Seed Crispbread + 1 Laughing Cow Mini Babybel Light cheese
- 1 non-fat latte (12 ounces or a Starbucks Tall)
- 2 mini whole wheat pitas + 2 tablespoons hummus
- 1/2 cup carrot sticks + 1/2 cup jicama sticks raw + 1 cup celery sticks + 2 tablespoons of reduced-fat Ranch dressing, hummus, or salsa
- 1 wedge of Laughing Cow Light Creamy Swiss on 2 celery sticks + 1/4 cup dried cherries
- 1/2 cup 2% cottage cheese + 1/2 whole wheat English muffin + 1 teaspoon fruit preserves
- 1 small banana (or 1/2 medium) + 1 Tablespoon natural peanut butter
For more recipes, healthy stress-free tips, and inspiration, you can follow me on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram. And check out my website and blog for everything you could want to know about my writing and nutrition services.
(This post is inspired by a C&J Nutrition post – thanks to them for their starter list of healthy sources of protein, carbs, and fat.)
So tell us in the comments … What is your favorite healthy snack?
Thanks for the tips – loads of great info … I am still learning so much about healthy eating and proper fueling.
My personal habits are keeping some fruit, pistachios (in shell) and a bug tupperware water cup at my desk. Right now pears are good, so I have those, which are quite filling. Then pistachios make a good snack that takes time and effort to consume (meaning it can’t be ‘mindless’).
Thanks again for the tips!
Sounds like you have it down, Michael! I love pistachios, and I love the idea of having them in shell so you are more conscious about how many you are eating, but I’ve never used them as a work snack – they require both hands so I can’t get anything done! Maybe that would be a good excuse for a mental break here and there, too! I sometimes choose pistachios while watching movies – the “perfect” opportunity for mindless snacking, kept under control by the shells! MMM …. pears … I love pears!
Love this!! I am always looking for healthy work snacks, and to be honest, I just gave up and decided that my time at work would just be part of the 20% unhealthy foods that I eat. Many of these sound delicious and easy! Plus they are healthy!
I love the 80/20 approach, but I don’t think your work snacks need to necessarily be in the 20%! Choosing some of these yummy ones that Caroline listed and then enjoying a treat here or there outside of work sounds like more fun to me :).
Interesting, I would have thought of beans and hummus as being more protein and not complex carb. Shows what I know! I guess my usual snack of veggies with a dip of pureed beans and garlic isn’t balanced, but it seems to work for me.
Carina, I think that’s a great snack! Beans do have some protein (which is why they’re often referred to as a source of protein for vegetarians) but they are mostly complex carbs. For example, chickpeas are about 66% carbs, 22% protein, 12% fat. Cannellini/ Great Northern beans are about 70% carbs, 27% protein, 3% fat. Most are in that range.
In my opinion, your snack seems very balanced! You don’t need to have an exactly equal amount of protein/ fat/ carbs to be considered “balanced,” and the carbs that you are getting from your veggies and your beans are great, complex carbs with lots of fiber! I say keep it up!
Hi Carina! I agree with Megan that your snack sounds great. Most foods are a mix, but they tend to lean more heavily in one category or another (beans are actually in two categories in my list because they go both ways like Megan was saying). Your snack of fiber-filled veggies (complex carbs) and bean dip (protein + carbs) is awesome! 🙂
Thanks for the great healthy snack ideas! I am always running around so I always make sure to carry a simple and healthy snack with me to eat so I don’t end up caving and getting some quick and processed food!
I always have snacks on me, too, Sara! Especially when I used to travel so much, my bag at the beginning of the week would be loaded up with tons of food :). Better “safe” than sorry!