Snacks get a bad rap, but they can and should be an important part of any “get healthier” plan. Don’t avoid snacks, and don’t pretend like you’re not gonna have ’em! Plan for them. Stock your pantry, your desk, or your vehicle with some handy but satisfying alternatives.
Here are 10 ways to sneak healthier habits into your snacks:
1. Want something crunchy and salty? Replace crackers and chips with nuts. Keep a variety of your favorites on hand. Yes, they have fat, but it’s mostly the good kind (especially walnuts and almonds), and fat satisfies sooner than carbs, so you may eat less.
2. Want something salty and sweet? Try an apple and sugar-free peanut butter, or apple with cheese. I especially like smoked Swiss.
3. Want something creamy and sweet? Stir together some frozen berries, Greek yogurt, vanilla and sweetener of your choice. (Find out which ones are lower in fructose.)
4. Replace sugar- or sweetener-laden soda with soda water. Flavor it with a squeeze of lemon or lime. Add sweetener if you must, but you get to control what kind of sweetener and how much goes in.
5. Dip raw carrot or jicama chips in caesar, ranch or blue cheese dressing. Watch out for sugar and corn syrup in store-bought dressings, though. Better to make your own. (Search this blog for some great salad dressing recipes! Also, try this 5-minute magic green sauce!)
6. Serving dip at a party? Take hearts of romaine: tear or cut away everything but the strong central rib. Save the leafy part for salads, and use the ribs for dippers, instead of chips or crackers. (Here’s my herbed cream cheese dip. For a dairy-free dip, try Dump Ranch!)
7. Got the munchies? It might just be thirst and/or boredom. Have a glass of ice water and go do something interesting or relaxing for 10 minutes.
8. Mix cottage cheese, salsa and guacamole; dip it with celery stalks or romaine ribs.
9. When you would normally go to potato or corn chips, go with 100% whole-grain crackers (such as Triscuits), and spread them with something that brings some protein and/or fat to the mix: cheese, ricotta, sugar-free peanut butter, or hummus.
10. Do a little research and find out what healthy options are available where you tend to stop for snacks. At QuikTrip, walk right past the chip aisle and look for the healthy options, including fresh fruit and cheese sticks.
Watch for “Stealth Health Part 2: Meals!”