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23 Healthy Snack Ideas

Who eats snacks? Okay, that is a silly question. Everyone eats snacks (defined as munchy food, in theory a small amount, eaten between meals). Or at least every one wants to eat snacks. But snacking has gotten a bad rap for being an unhealthy, mindless habit that isn’t good for us. And truth-be-told, the snacking industry SHOULD have a bad rap. The processed food-like substances that pass as snacks are horrible. They override our brain’s ability to say, “Thanks, I’ve had enough” by being salt, sugar and fat bombs. They have zero nutritional value. And they are ridiculously calorie dense. So, if you’re snacking on what most of the western world considers snack food, you’ve got a problem; those snacks are addictive.

Why are Snacks Addictive?

The short answer is because they are made that way by the food industry. They spend billions of dollars determining exactly how to make a snack the right amount of crunchy, salty, sweet, fat to make you eat the whole box/bag without realizing it. The more they can hit the “crave” center of your brain, the more money they make. And why wouldn’t they? Your health is your problem. Keeping their shareholders happy is theirs.  

And just for good measure, they take out any nutrients that might have been in the ingredients they used to make the product. Nutrients spoil. That’s bad for shelf life. And bad for shelf life means bad for the bottom line (again, shareholders)

Will Snacking Cause Weight Gain?Tomato, avocado, corn and micro greens on a tortilla

If you are eating the type of snacks mentioned above, the standard ones you find in a convenience store or advertised on TV, yes snacking will cause weight gain. BUT (this is a big but), it’s not the snacking itself.

Let’s break it down. If you are eating nutrient dense food during meals and your legitimately hungry between meals, eat more! There are some days that I (Dr Robyn) eat little things all day and there are some days I only eat meals. Today I had my regular about 1000 calorie oatmeal at 10am. Then I was hungry around noon so I had a couple of corn muffins (recipe is on the recipe page). Now it’s lunch time (2:30ish) but I’m not hungry. So, I will likely either eat lunch later or have another small snack and then eat again when we get back from our event tonight. There is no wrong way to eat nutritious food. The key is to eat when you’re hungry. Not when you’re bored or stressed or angry or (insert emotion or habit here). Understanding why they choose to eat what they eat when they choose it is a big part of the psychology of eating that I work on with clients.

So, no. Snacking will not cause weight gain IF (this is a big if) you are snacking on real food. But what is a real food snack? I thought you’d never ask.

What Snacks Will Fill Me Up?

  • Air popped popcorn – Mist it with soy sauce or Braggs Aminos (found at health food stores) and then sprinkle on your favorite seasoning/spices before it dries. Yummy options include: nutritional yeast, everything spice (like an everything bagel), Lucifer (super spicy!), Cajun spice, lemon pepper, garlic powder, cinnamon and Italian seasoning. You can use flavored salts (jalapeno or dill come to mind) but be aware of the sodium intake. Be creative. Just about anything in your spice cabinet will work.
  • Apples – This time of year apples are everywhere. Add some natural peanut butter and you’ve got a delicious and filling snack.
  • Bananas – I (Dr Robyn) happen to love sliced banana with peanut butter, apricot preserves (yes, a little sugar there) and cinnamon rolled in a warm tortilla. Mmm – I might need to eat that today!
  • Fresh berries – These can be a little bit challenging to eat because the little buggers roll away from you. But they are easy to put in a container and take with you pretty much anywhere.
  • Actually fruit of any kind - It's all good for you. Have some!
  • Hummus on anything – Veggies, whole-wheat bread/toast, in a wrap with some lemon pepper seasoning, on a baked potato or a sweet potato (of course you made extra the last time you made potatoes, right?), mixed in with quinoa, barley, bulger or other grain or just by itself! (click here to watch me make my recipe)
  • Guacamole On anything – (see list above)
  • Nuts – Walnuts, pecans, cashews, almonds (raw, unsalted of course). They are all wonderful snacks and they are good fat. (If you are worried about fat intake may I be so bold as to suggest you look at the animal products you are taking in rather than the lowly nuts?) If you want some sweetness, add some dried fruit.
  • Dried fruit – Look for dried fruit without added sugar. Raisins, prunes, figs and dates are usually safe bets. We were even able to find dried mangos over the summer.  
  • Pumpkin seeds – Raw and unsalted these are a wonderful snack. Eat them one at a time if you want to eat for a long time or toss a handful in your mouth as you’re walking out the door. Good stuff!
  • Cucumber slices with grapes – Bonus with this one, hydration!
  • Toast/wrap with peanut butter and honey – Obviously this is a sweet snack so not every day. You can even add flaxseed, pumpkin seeds or chia seeds for added nutrition and fiber. If you’re an ethical vegan, use maple syrup insteaMixed nuts in a glass bowld (although that is even messier than honey, if that is possible).
  • Peanut butter and celery – Did your mom make this for you when you were a kid? Newsflash, it’s still good. Line some raisins up on the peanut butter for some sweetness and just for the fun of it.
  • Peanut butter all by itself – You are a grown up. Eat peanut butter out of the jar if you want. Just don't eat the whole jar.
  • Flaxseed mixed with honey or maple syrup – I have not tried this one yet. But someone recommended it in a group I’m in. I wouldn’t eat more than a spoonful. But if you’re looking for something sweet, this would do it and give you some nutrition along the way.  
  • Roasted chickpeas - Drain a can of chickpeas and rinse. Sprinkle with garlic granules, smoked paprika, chili powder, a little sea salt if you'd like. Set toaster oven (or oven) to 400 and roast on a baking sheet for 20-30 mins, moving them around every so often to crisp up all the way around. Turn off oven and leave in there for 15 more mins. That's when they really get crispy. (Full disclosure, I don’t love roasted chickpeas. But some people swear by them. So, there you have it.)
  • Pureed pumpkin – Yep another thing you can eat right out of the can. Check the ingredients to make sure it just says “pumpkin.” Then sprinkle cinnamon or pumpkin spice on it as you go (you have to really like pumpkin for this to be a snack).
  • Dates filled with peanut butter – These are a bit messy to make. But if you like dates, worth it!
  • Grapes – Fresh or frozen
  • Veggies on toast or in a wrap – Pick your favorites. I like peppers, a bit of onion, tomatoes, avocado and spinach or kale. Add a bit of Sweet Mustard Spread and you have a snack. Don’t overfill it (I always do) and you might actually be able to eat it with one hand.
  • Chopped dates, nut butter and a bit of raw cacao – Mix and enjoy. If your palate is still used to the sweetness of the Standard American Diet, this might take some getting used to. But it really is good.
  • Edamame (organic) – Yes, it’s soy. No, you don’t have to be scared of it. It’s just a bean. But if you are salting it, be aware of your sodium intake.
  • Frozen corn (organic) – This one might just be me. But I happen to like eating frozen corn. I just get a little bit out at a time so it doesn’t thaw before I can eat it.

Ya know, I might be hungry for lunch after all! Happy snacking!

Bonus snack added after publication: Nice Cream - Freeze two or three bananas. Put them in a food processor or high-speed blender. Process until smooth (add a little plant milk or water if needed). Add another frozen fruit of your choice (we like cherries) and a teaspoon of vanilla extract and process again. If you'd like it a little sweeter, add a tablespoon or two of maple syrup. If you want a chocolate flavor, add up to a tablespoon of cocoa powder (optional). Make sure it's creamy smooth and enjoy right away.


Wrap photo by Artem Bulbfish from Pexels
Nuts photo by Mehran B from Pexels
 

Dr Robyn is a former competitive volleyball player turned psychologist with continuing education in nutrition. Russ is a former competitive bodybuilder and trainer on the Mr. Olympia Tour. They are the co-founders of Whole Food Muscle and the authors of How to Feed a Human The Whole Food Muscle Way. To work with them one on one to improve your health and fitness or to have them speak at your event or organization email them at Health@RnRJourney.com.


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"Hello
Russ and Dr Robyn,"

"You changed my life and my husband's. His cholesterol has been cut in half. We both have lost about 12 pounds and feel terrific. We don't miss meat, fish, eggs or yogurt or cheese. Thank you so much for all you are doing for the world. We too thought we were eating healthy but couldn't lose weight even though we exercised a lot. Until we changed what we ate. We are truly grateful. I loved your Christmas message about what to say to those comments people make when you say you eat Plant Based.

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