Put down that candy bar! It's the typical time of day when the cravings start and a chocolate bar is sounding pretty good. Or how about that bag of salty chips calling your name? Snacking is normal, necessary even to maintain a good energy level and keep focused. Maybe you had a bad breakfast or lunch wasn't satisfying. Whatever the reason, it happens. It would probably...no. It would be better if we made better choices when it came to what we snacked on. Chips and candy are easy and tasty. But the chips will leave you unsatisfied and the candy with a bad sugar crash. It's not hard to curb a craving regardless if it's sweet or savory. The trick is to plan for them.
Guilt-Free Savory Snacks
I am the queen of salt. I am embarrassed to admit I can make a family size back of regular potato chips my dinner. I always feel gross after though. My skin feels greasier, I bloat, I can't quench my thirst and worst of all, I'm hungry again ten minutes later. I avoid temptation by not buying snacks like these because I know I don't have the self-restraint to avoid them. Instead, try one of these great snacks.
Pumpkin or Sunflower Seeds: I don't keep nuts around the house because we have an allergy. Seeds are another great option though and satisfy that salty urge. Pumpkin seeds are a great source of protein, boost your immunity and carry antioxidants. Half a cup comes in around 140 calories with 6 grams of fiber. Sunflower seeds help with cardiovascular health, are full of fiber, protein and nutrients like Vitamin E and have anti-inflammatory benefits. A quarter cup comes in around 200 calories. They might be small portions but they fill you up anyway.
String Cheese: Cheese sort of gets a bad rep but it's really not that awful when eaten in moderation. I love string cheese because it keeps me occupied while I snack and it's tasty. Low moisture, part-skim Mozzarella string cheese (which is what I buy) is about 80 calories and contains 8 grams of protein. There are plenty of portioned cheese snacks in grocery stores to choose from. The idea is to stick to their pre-sized serving and not eat 5 of them. Sure those Babybels are only 70 calories but down 4 more and you're looking at 280 calories and 24 grams of fat.
Chips & Salsa: If you can't avoid the need for a chip, chips and salsa are a safe bet. Salsa is generally not the worst thing you can eat since it is all chopped veggies for the most part. Be careful with the sodium count because packaged items can get a bit carried away. Like anything else, making your own salsa is always best. Check out this recipe for Pineapple Salsa to mix things up. 13 tortilla chips come out around 140 calories and there are tons of healthy, nutrition-rich options out there now as well.
Guilt-Free Sweet Snacks
I am not a sweet person most of the time. My sweet tooth is easily satisfied and usually appears after a hearty meal. I know plenty of people who cannot get enough sweet though. Chocolate chip cookies, candy, anything sweet is their downfall. The worst part, in my opinion, aside from all the bad nutrition is the sugar crash. I don't know about you but a sugar crash is a terrible feeling. These snacks can help avoid that crash while also keep you satisfied longer.
Greek Yogurt: Greek yogurt is a powerhouse snack. It contains tons of protein, probiotics to help with digestion, potassium, calcium and so much more. One cup of Greek Yogurt has around 130 calories with a whopping 24 grams of protein. It's fantastic topped with granola, fruit, a drizzle of honey and if you are dying for some chocolate, add a few chips in there. It's basically a blank canvas.
Peanut Butter & Anything: In a secluded cabinet on the top shelf, I keep a jar of raw peanut butter. I'm talking about the stuff that separates and needs to be stirred almost every use. It's rich and flavorful and pairs with almost anything from fruits to veggies. Peanut butter is filled with protein, antioxidants and vitamins. There are thoughts that it is helpful in weight loss and lowering the risk of diabetes as well. Peanut butter comes in around 200 calories for a 2 tablespoon serving. Other nut butters are also a great snack. Just be careful when buying a butter that it has simple ingredients and no added sugar. I'm sorry, that kid-friendly creamy peanut butter does not count.
Fruit: This one is kind of obvious but for a sweet craving, fruit is always one of your best options. They're also versatile from an uber-sweet banana to tart berries. You can also mix them up for variety. Never shy away from the obvious. It can't get easier than biting into an apple. To make this snack even better, pair it with a nut butter.
These are just a few great options for snacking without the guilt. Later this month, we'll be sharing some homemade snack recipes that will satisfy those cravings on both the sweet and savory side. In the meantime, what are some of your favorite guilt-free snacking ideas?