A new year is here and many people have decided that now is the time to start creating some healthier lifestyle habits. Beginning a workout routine and aiming to eat healthier overall obviously go hand in hand. One area that people often struggle with is finding good options for snacks.
Potato chips, pretzels, nuts, and sweets are probably the most common snack foods. While pretzels and nuts aren't inherently bad for you, pretzels have very little nutritional value, whereas nuts contain lots of great vitamins and minerals but are way too easy to overeat. Weigh out one ounce of nuts the next time you’re eating them and see how small of a portion that is, generally at the expense of 160-200 calories or so. Not only that, but one serving of nuts generally won’t really fill you up all that much.
I don’t really consider foods healthy or unhealthy, rather I look at whether they are either high or low in vitamins, minerals and calories. That being said, the purpose of a snack should not only be to get in some good nutrition but to also stave off hunger for a while.
Here is a handy list of a few of my go-to snacking foods that fulfill both of those requirements:
- Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries
- Grapes: Try freezing them!
- Low-calorie string cheese, fresh mozzarella sticks (Trader Joe’s has a great selection)
- Baby Carrots
- Bell Peppers
- Single serve Greek yogurt packs
- Cottage cheese
- Hard boiled eggs
- Grape/cherry tomatoes
- Protein bars: Be wary here, as many brands market themselves as protein bars but in fact are packed full of extra carbs and fat while having relatively low amounts of protein. I’ve seen as low as 4g of protein in a serving being marketed as high in protein. My favorite bars are Quest Bars, which have 20g protein and a ton of fiber. I also like RX Bars as a good snack, and while they clock in at only about 11-14 g of protein and do have a decent amount of carbs and fats, they’re made with all real, highly nutritious ingredients and have a lot of fiber in each bar to keep you satisfied.
This is obviously not an all encompassing list, just my go-to snacks. In addition to the above, here are a couple of no bake energy ball recipes my girlfriend has made in the past. Neither of these are very high in protein, but you can simply add in a bit more protein powder if you desire more protein with a little bit of water to help mix it in. The first recipe is pretty low calorie, the second is a lot higher. You can experiment and add in more of your own favorite ingredients as well!
Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy Balls (lower calorie)
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1/2 scoop chocolate whey protein
2 tablespoons flax seed
3/4 cup oats
Mash banana. Add all ingredients other than oats and mix thoroughly. Add oats and stir in using rubber spatula. Separate into 1 ounce balls. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to 3 hours before eating.
24.7g fat 82.5g carbs 42.5 protein (whole batch)
2.7g fat 9.2g carbs 4.7g protein 80 calories (per ball)
Cran-Chocolate Energy Balls (higher calorie)
1/4 cup Craisins
1/4 cup dried blueberries
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup pumpkin kernels
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp flaxseeds
1 scoop ON vanilla protein
3/4 cup oats
Mash banana. Add all ingredients other than oats and mix thoroughly. Add oats and stir in using rubber spatula. Separate into 1.5 ounce balls. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to 3 hours before eating.
99g fat 193g carb 68g protein (whole batch)
9g fat 17.5g carb 6.2g protein 176 calories (per ball)
The Chopping Block's Wellness Chef Alia Dalal has her own version of Cookie Dough Energy Bites which are delicious and make a great substitute for Chocolate Chip Cookies. Watch her make them here: