20 Mix-and-Match Healthy Snacks
Confession: I am not a fan of snacking. To my way of thinking, you are either hungry or not; if you’re hungry, then eat, and if you’re not, then don’t. Every eating experience is an opportunity to consume nutrients – and to receive pleasure too - but the first is more important than the last. (When you love fresh and wholesome food, nutritious and delicious are the same.) But if snacks (can we agree to call them mini-meals?) have a place in your life, then it's always helpful to have more ideas.
How to Snack
To increase your nutrient consumption at each eating experience, be sure to eat more than one food at your mini-meal. A single food, such as a little bag of Baked Lays, is not a great mini-meal. The single food may be fine but what about the other nutrients that you need? A satisfying mini-meal should be nutritionally dense, balanced, and take a bit of effort. The effort serves as an affirmative action that you want the best.
Before you snack, it’s a good idea to tally what you’ve eaten and still need for the day. You can make a mental tally or, better yet, use the Calorie Count Nutrition Analysis to help with that. Then, the challenge is to find an in-between meal snack that gives you access to more two or more food groups. (The six food groups are outlined in MyPyramid.gov, the nutrition website of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Inside the pyramid, there are Grains, Vegetables, Fruit, Milk, Meat & Beans, and Oil. There are also Discretionary Calorie foods, but those are extra, not a food group.)
Food-combining is not magic; the practice simply provides more nutrients. Combinations include grain, fruit and dairy, or vegetable, meat/bean and grain, or fruit, meat/bean and dairy, or whatever else meets your daily needs – you get the point. It is fun to mix and match new food combinations and it’s a great way to teach kids about healthy eating
Here is a list of mix and match nutritious low-calorie snacks to get you started. Choose any that you like and then add more. The portion size is up to you.
20 Mix-and-Match Healthy Snacks
- Laughing Cow Light Garlic & Herb Wedge on a reduced fat Triscuit topped with a slice of roasted red pepper
- Low-fat cottage cheese with fresh strawberries and Back to Nature Sesame Ginger Rice Thins
- Hot air popcorn sprinkled with grated Parmesan cheese and a touch cayenne
- A small baked potato, topped with 1/4 cup of salsa and 2 tablespoons of non-fat Fage yogurt
- A small whole wheat tortilla, spread with hummus, topped with cucumber slices and grated carrot, rolled up
- One slice of whole grain bread, spread with peanut butter and honey, rolled around a small banana
- 1/4 cup of fat-free Ranch dressing over mixed fresh vegetables and a hard-boiled egg
- 1/2 celery stalk lightly filled with peanut butter and raisins (Ants on a Log)
- Sliced cherries, fat-free ricotta cheese and sliced almonds, with a sweetener if needed
- A dried fig sliced in half, stuffed with a walnut half (rolled in sugar if desired)
- 1/2 whole wheat mini bagel with 1/2 ounce of smoked salmon and a tomato slice
- One baguette slice, one oil sardine, one cherry tomato, and a squeeze of lemon juice
- Whole almonds, Wasa Rye Crispbread, and light Babybel mini-round cheese
- One ham slice, one pineapple wedge and a dab of low fat cottage cheese
- One slice of turkey breast, spread with mango chutney, rolled around a breadstick
- Cherry tomatoes, low-fat fresh mozzarella, basil, and olive oil (Caprese Salad)
- A Chocolate-Raspberry Frozen Yogurt Pop from Eating Well
- Coco-Nut Bananas also from Eating Well
- Raspberries mixed with fat-free vanilla yogurt and wheat germ
- One graham cracker square spread with 1 tablespoon lemon curd, sprinkled with confectioners' sugar, and served with 4 ounces of skim milk.
There must be a million mix-and-match healthy snacks. Please suggest some more.
Mary_RD does not have a relationship with the manufacturers of the listed products.