We live in a world of snackers! Experts estimate that the global snack food market to be worth USD 620 billion by 2021! In the US, sales of just potato chips generated $7.5 billion in 2015. Sales of tortilla chips come in next with sales of $5.2 billion. Clearly, folks like their chips! We already know that snacks are big business, just walk through any grocery store and see filled to overflowing snack foods smack dab in the middle of the store. Snacks are everywhere! Many people eat a series of snacks as meal replacements when on the go. People are busy and seek convenience foods. But, are snacks healthy? Are we able to maintain a healthy weight eating snacks? Are we spending money to buy expensive snacks that undermine our efforts toward a healthy lifestyle for our families’?
According to a study in 2011, we now snack about 25% of our total calories per day, which is why we only want to snack if we feel hungry. Dr. Richard Mattes at Purdue University calls today’s snacks a “fourth meal” that can average almost 600 calories! Use this opportunity to add more fruits and veggies to your daily menu. Get smart, get organized, and get healthy. Be prepared too. For example, before going to watch a big game at someone’s house, knowing they will serve all sorts snacks like wings and chips, eat before leaving and be sure to take something healthy to share. That way hunger and temptation are relieved. Avoid snacks that are high in sugar, salt, and fat. Learn more about the dangers of sugar, salt and fat in session 5.
Bottom line: YES, we do want to eat healthy snacks so we don’t get hungry and binge later, on unhealthy foods. However, we don’t want to snack “just because”; we only want to snack if we feel hungry. Too much snacking leads to weight gain. Do avoid snacks that are high in sugar, salt, and fat.
Different Types of Snacks
First: Ask yourself. What are you craving? What kind of food do you think you want to eat? Try to identify the craving: crunchy, munchy, sweet, savory, a thirst quencher, or smooth.
For example, crunchy would be apples, carrots and celery, green pepper sticks, zucchini circles, radishes, broccoli, cauliflower a few tortilla or vegetable chips, or roasted chickpeas with spices.
Munchy would be trail mix, unsalted sunflower seeds, whole grain toast with plant-based spread, cherry or grape tomatoes, and unsalted raw nuts like almonds, walnuts, or even unsalted peanuts in the shell. Those make a mess but are fun to munch!
Sweet snacks can be any kind of fruit, fresh, cooked (like apples in the microwave) smoothies, or frozen fruit.
Thirst quenchers are water, homemade sparkling water infused with fruit, hot or cold coffee or tea. Mix it up with herbal teas and experiment. Sweet, spicy cinnamon iced tea is the best.
Muffins are always a popular snack at our house. My last muffins were made of pumpkin and applesauce. My friends devoured them! Muffins can be sweet or savory.
Other Easy Snacks Include:
- Veggies and hummus – classic!
- Fruit (warm or cold)
- Peanut butter with sliced carrots, celery and apples
- Air popped plain popcorn with nutritional yeast, herbs and spices. Create single serve bags for snacks on the go
- Baked kale, veggie or tortilla chips + bean dip, whirled peas dip, guacamole, or salsa
- Edamame, and it’s easy to create single serve bags for when on the go
- A cup of chili or soup with a few whole grain crackers
- Crackers with vegan cream cheese and olive tapenade
- Avocado toast
- Nuts ~ in moderation. Nuts are powerhouses of nutrition and good health, full of omega 3, fiber, vitamin E, anti-oxidants and good fats. (A recent study from the Netherlands analyzing 120,000 people over decades, found that the people who ate a half handful of nuts per day were at a lower risk for cancer, diabetes, respiratory illnesses, heart disease, and neurological disease. This new study corroborates previous studies that indicate nuts lower cholesterol and lower mortality due to all types of heart diseases).
Get creative with your snacks. Bag or box them up for travel and always carry water with you. I find that often I am thirsty not hungry! Only keep snacks that support your goals for a healthy lifestyle in your house or office. Do enjoy your snacks and do enjoy your regular meals! Save your money buying expensive chips and other snacks, and opt for healthy, low cost snacks instead. Happy Eating!
Photo: Thank you Alex Munsell @Unsplash