Escape Your Snack Rut With 30+ Healthier Ideas

By , SparkPeople Blogger
You woke up early, got in a pre-dawn workout and ate the healthy breakfast you prepped the night before. At work, you park as far from the door as possible and turn a blind eye to the breakroom donuts. When lunchtime rolls around, you resist the urge to join the group for Chinese food and stick to the salad you packed. But then three o’clock hits. Lunch is a distant memory, your belly is growling, your energy is flagging and you’ve been working so hard—haven’t you earned a little treat? Before you know it, you’ve fallen prey to a bag of vending machine chips, your co-worker’s candy jar or [insert Bad Snack Choice here].
Snacking isn’t always bad—in fact, when done right, it can actually help you achieve your weight loss goals by keeping you feeling fuller longer, stabilizing blood sugar levels and adding more vitamins and minerals to your daily diet. The key is avoiding sugary foods, exercising portion control and noshing on a combination of healthy fats, complex carbs and lean protein. Of course, that’s easier said than done, especially when you’re busy, tired and strapped for time. To help you become a smarter snacker, we polled our members and experts for their favorite nutritious, nourishing things to nibble between meals.

30+ Healthy Snack Ideas from Members and Experts

“Homemade muesli/granola. I keep a stock of nuts, oats and dried fruits on hand and make my own cereal, which I have either dry, with almond milk or—if I need calories after exercise—with peanut butter.”

“A healthy snack that requires a bit of effort is banana ice cream. It's simply frozen bananas, some coconut cream, vanilla and a bit of maple syrup. Easy, healthy and it tastes pretty darn good! You can add some toppings, if so inclined."
Kyle Kranz, running coach

"A serving of [light] Greek yogurt...can't beat it!"

"My go-to snacks are hard boiled eggs mixed with vegenaise, sea salt and broccoli or spinach (cooked from frozen). I also love smoothies with vegan protein powder, frozen berries, almond milk and coconut butter. Another good choice is garbanzo beans with tomatoes, onion, parsley, sea salt, extra virgin olive oil and nutritional yeast."
Rachel Straub, fitness author

"Full-fat organic cottage cheese with chopped-up cashews. Such a good combo, full of protein and fat."
Ashley Pitt, personal trainer

"Chia pudding is a gluten and dairy-free snack that’s rich in omega-3s (which reduces inflammation), fiber to keep you full, cancer-fighting antioxidants and more. The perfect ratio for chia pudding is three tablespoons of chia seeds plus one cup of liquid (I like to use coconut milk). Stir, let sit for five minutes, stir again, then let sit in the fridge for at least an hour to thicken up. Add fresh fruit and a drizzle of honey or maple syrup and you’re good to go!"
Kasey Shuler, personal trainer

"I make chai walnuts and honey salted sesame almonds at home and pack them.”
Judy Barbe, nutrition author

"Yogurt parfait with nonfat Greek yogurt, pecans, mixed frozen berries, bran flakes and cinnamon—my daily treat!"

"At work, I snack on fruit slices, whatever is in season and on sale. Lots of apples, pears, peaches and nectarines, sometimes pineapple or cantaloupe. If I'm just eating slices of apple, I'll top them with a little dusting of cinnamon for flavor. At home, I'll have slices of apple with a little bit of peanut butter or almond butter."

"A favorite travel snack is a combo of peanut butter-filled pretzels, wasabi peas, dried mango and dried coconut, almonds and Kashi Wheat Biscuits (Dark Cocoa Karma Cereal) in a ziplock bag."
Judy Barbe

"I keep a bag of apples and a jar of peanut butter at my desk, and some grapes in the freezer— they are like sorbet and get me past my ice cream craving."

"If I don't have a smoothie, I usually crave a fresh herb salad. I get the big $5 box of mixed greens from the grocery store. It tastes very gourmet and refreshing when I add dill, parsley and cilantro and two fried eggs on top. I am trying to work my way back to a vegan diet, but I still love eggs for their amazing flavor, nutrition and [the] solid, grounded energy I feel when I eat them."
Julie Aiello, Outdoor Yoga SF founder and creator

"A banana covered in crunchy almond butter. Fat, carbs and sugar!"
Ashley Pitt

"This requires some cooking, but my clients seem to love it! Make a big batch of crepes to have on hand for healthy snacks. In a blender, combine 1/2 cup oatmeal flour, 1 16-oz carton of nonfat cottage cheese, 1 16-oz carton of egg whites and 1 scoop of whey protein powder (vanilla works best). Pour a small amount into a heated pan on the stove. Cook up a big stack, store on a plate, cover and place in the refrigerator. You can pull one out, heat it and eat it like a pancake. Or you can put some peanut butter on it and roll it up for a snack on-the-go. Or get super creative by spreading some ricotta cheese and blueberries in the middle. This recipe makes 8-10 crepes."
Kristy Stabler, nutrition coach

"Cucumber slices or mini peppers with yogurt-based artichoke jalapeño dip."
Judy Barbe

"Chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans). Soak dried chickpeas overnight, rinse and use fresh water with some oregano. Cook for about an hour, rinse again and cool them. Place on cookie sheet and place in freezer. Once they're frozen, pop them in a freezer bag. In the fall, I like to add pomegranate arils."
"A slice of whole-grain toast with a spread of avocado, cottage cheese, hummus or sweet potato and topped with seasoning and spice blends for added flavor. The carbs from the toast give a boost of energy, while the topping of protein or healthy fat keeps me full and satisfied till my next meal."
Mandy Enright, registered dietitian nutritionist

"I love pretzels and hummus, nachos made with whole-wheat crackers and low-fat cheese, plain yogurt with granola and/or fruit, apple, pear or banana with peanut butter, trail mix or sliced veggies with Greek yogurt dip."
SparkCoach Jen

"I usually prefer savory snacks, like romaine lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots or red peppers with cheese and walnuts. Or I can go with dried berries and nuts or cacao nibs with my coffee. My criteria for picking my snacks is that the thing I choose shouldn't get me craving more."

"I love bell peppers dipped in zesty ranch dressing. Stir one tablespoon of ranch dressing with 1/4 cup of 0-2 percent Greek yogurt and a teaspoon of lime juice to make a protein-packed, zesty dip. Scoop up with a sliced bell pepper or a cup of the mini bell peppers for an easy, filling and satisfying snack."
Ilana Muhlstein, registered dietitian
"Air-popped popcorn."

"Try an acai protein shake—I make [mine] with acai, spinach, kale, almond milk, vegan protein powder, half a frozen banana and a date."
Brooke Taylor, fitness trainer

"Baby carrots and red pepper hummus."

"I know it sounds overplayed, but I have smoothie bowls all the time. They are the perfect snack! I love it for the incredible things I can put into it, and because smoothie bowls are super filling without being very heavy. I like to make a mint chocolate chip green smoothie with some essential oils (3 drops spearmint essential oil, 2 drops ginger essential oil), cacao nibs, Amazing Grass chocolate greens powder, ½ a banana, frozen mixed berries, coconut or almond milk, a small scoop of almond butter and fun toppings: chia, hemp seeds, goji berries, shredded coconut or banana slices."
Julie Aiello

"I love fresh fruit, apples especially. I have some fun colorful containers that I use to store slices and for easy grab-and-go. I can't wait for Minnesota apples to be in season; it's almost time for Zestars! I also keep yogurt cups, Larabars, nut butters, string cheese and cottage cheese on hand."

"[A] parfait made in a glass filled with layers of Greek yogurt, granola, berries and maybe a thin layer of fruit compote or jam near the top. Delicious, with eight grams of protein. My favorite, not only because it tastes so good, but because it also has a lot of fiber to keep [me] full."

"Some of my favorites are apples with Justin's almond butter, cucumbers or sprouted crackers with hummus and ZING protein bars."
Brooke Taylor

"One of my go-to healthy snacks are sweet potato nachos. I cut up sweet potatoes into circle slices, pop them in the oven and have them act as my 'chips.' Then I sauté chopped tomatoes, pico de gallo, jalapeno and onion, add them to the nachos and garnish with cilantro. It’s a delicious way to enjoy nachos without the guilt."
Michael Blauner, personal trainer and fitness expert

"I make gluten-free/dairy-free chocolate muffins for a weekend breakfast, then freeze the leftovers. They can defrost overnight at room temperature and be ready for breakfast or snacks during the week. Packed with beneficial fats and protein—and, most importantly, chocolate! And you won't even be able to tell that they're gluten- and dairy-free."
Liza Baker, health coach

"My favorite treat is one avocado, two tablespoons of raw cocoa and two tablespoons of agave nectar. Put it in the fridge for an hour, then eat half and share with a friend."
Brooke Taylor

"WASA light rye crackers with 2 tablespoons of hummus. Smoothie with one cup of soy milk, one tablespoon of cocoa powder, one tablespoon of crunchy peanut butter, one banana and two cups of cups baby spinach. 1/2 serving of air-popped popcorn with cinnamon sprinkled over it."
"Snap peas and baby carrots. I also love Greek yogurt with berries, cinnamon, ginger and a bit of maple syrup."
"This is my go-to snack for between breakfast and lunch: plain full-fat Greek yogurt, your favorite fruit (half an apple, chopped into bite-size pieces), one banana (sliced in pieces), strawberries (sliced in pieces) or blueberries, your favorite combination of trail mix and plain oats. This snack has a lot of protein and is very flexible: you can adjust each part to fit your taste buds and your macronutrient requirements."
Tyler Spraul, trainer with
"Banana with maple syrup: sliced banana cooked in a pan with a bit of coconut oil, then drizzled with maple syrup and cinnamon…you can add a pinch of sea salt. Or baked sweet potato slices sprinkled with cinnamon, otherwise known as sweet potato toast."
Cheryl Russo, health coach
"My go-to is a high-protein Keto evening snack: 1/2 avocado stuffed with 1/2 can of tuna, with a pinch of sea salt and a squeeze of lemon juice. Eat with a spoon."
Brandon Mentore, sports nutritionist
"Almond butter mixed with chia seeds and unsweetened dried and shredded coconut. It makes a great dip for celery or seed-based, grain-free crackers."
Jessica Pantermuehl, founder of LiveWell Collective

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