One of the biggest contributing factors to weight gain and obesity is frequent, unhealthy snacking. It’s easy to justify grabbing something to eat in between meals or late at night when your stomach won’t stop growling; not being hungry can result in better sleep, higher productivity and better focus. But it’s even easier to cross the line from smart, healthy snacking to overeating; have you ever opened a chip bag in front of the TV, only to notice that it’s halfway gone twenty minutes into the show? Or, think about the last time someone brought donuts into the office—did you find yourself going back to the break room multiple times to satisfy your sugar craving?
These are the kinds of mindless snacking that can have significant negative effects on your diet, digestion and overall health, so it’s important to find a balance between snacks that will make your taste buds happy and snacks that won’t expand your waistline. It’s fine to have a snack in between meals if you’re hungry, just keep moderation and health in mind when you choose what snacks to chow down on. The following are ideas for healthy and yummy snacks that will keep you feeling full without adding unnecessary fats and calories or ruining your appetite—try them out the next time you’re hungry and feel good about your snacking choices!
Fruit and Yogurt:
Nothing says “healthy” quite like a fresh piece of fruit, so reach for an apple or some grapes the next time you just can’t wait until lunchtime. Bananas, apples and oranges all have high amounts of Vitamin C that can give your energy a boost. For some extra protein and fiber, mix fruit pieces with fat-free yogurt. It’s the perfect snack to demonstrate that you can feel full for a long time even if you’re just putting healthy foods into your body.
If you’re deciding between potato chips, pretzels or popcorn, popcorn should be the clear winner. Popcorn has much less salt and fat than the other two options, and since it’s a whole grain, it does great things for your heart, too. Look for the reduced-fat and lower salt varieties rather than the butter-soaked kinds, and you’ll have a fiber-rich, low-calorie snack that won’t make you feel guilty about eating the whole bag.
Pita and Hummus:
Eating whole grain pita and hummus will make you feel like you’re dining out on a Greek island instead of consuming a healthy snack. Whole grain pita gives you tons of nutrients and fiber, while the chickpeas in the hummus provide you with a good source of protein. This is also one of the least boring snacks you can make, since there are so many delicious hummus flavors to choose from and numerous ways to eat your snack; toast your pita, choose whole grain pita chips, or make a pita and hummus sandwich—any way you eat it, the health benefits are still there.
Nuts are not only an excellent source of protein, but they provide your body with the healthy fats it needs to function properly. Health benefits vary between types of nuts, but they include promoting heart health, fighting disease and reducing inflammation. Walnuts, almonds, pistachios, peanuts and pecans are all good choices when you’re picking out the healthiest snacks at the grocery store. Be sure to get the unsalted varieties to keep an eye on your sodium intake.
Try this healthy recipe for a popcorn-based trail mix. With fat free popcorn, dried fruit and nuts, it’s a snack you can definitely feel great about eating.
Take Along Treat
• 2 bags (2.9 ounces each) (22 cups popped) Smart Pop!® 94% Fat Free Microwave Popcorn
• PAM® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray
• 1 cup salted peanuts
• 1 package (7 ounces) mixed dried fruit bits
• 1 cup honey
• 1/4 cup water
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray two 15×10-inch jelly roll pans with cooking spray.
2. Prepare popcorn according to package directions. Remove all unpopped kernels. Combine popped corn, peanuts and fruit bits evenly between prepared pans.
3. Place honey, water and lemon juice in medium-sized heavy saucepan; bring to a rapid boil and continue boiling for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Immediately pour over popcorn mixture, tossing gently to evenly coat.
4. Bake for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Remove from oven and stir again. Allow to cool on pan. Store in airtight container.
This recipe is brought to you by Orville Redenbacher’s. Visit Orville.com to find this and other healthy popcorn snack recipes at www.orville.com.