7 healthy pack-and-go snack ideas
Need an afternoon nosh? These healthy, portable snacks are easy to make, delicious and guilt-free
Nutritious snack ideas
When you have just five minutes between meetings to grab a snack, that vending machine down the hall starts to look pretty alluring. But you don’t have to eat junk food just because you’re in a hurry. Keep your healthy eating plan on track by preparing your own pack-and-go snacks, suggests Mary Sue Waisman, registered dietitian, chef and founder of All About Food, a nutrition consulting company in Fall River, N.S. “If your own great-tasting food is with you, then you can keep temptation at bay and avoid impulse buying,” she says.
When making your snacks, choose healthy foods that are rich in nutrients and aim to include at least two food groups. For a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack, Waisman suggests including protein (from milk, meat or their alternatives), which offers “staying power,” because it takes longer to digest.
Read on for seven easy, nutritious snack ideas that you can take anywhere.
Whole-grain granola with dried fruits, nuts and seeds
“A lot of pre-packaged granola products can be higher in fat and/or sugar. To gain control over what goes into [your granola], make it yourself,” says Waisman, whose go-to recipe includes whole rolled oats, wheat bran, skim milk powder and other healthy ingredients. If you don’t have a favourite yet, try our Homemade Low-Fat Granola and omega-3-rich Walnut Granola. Just watch your serving size-a half-cup of granola with some dried fruit should be enough to tide you over until lunch.
Reduced-fat yogurt is a great source of vitamins and minerals, including bone-building calcium, and it’s the foundation of Waisman’s healthy fruit smoothies. “I use three-quarters of a cup of yogurt, then add a whole fruit, such as an orange, peach or a half-cup of strawberries, as well as a little orange juice and some ice cubes,” she says. “A banana produces a nice texture.” Don’t hesitate to use frozen fruit in your smoothie-it’s picked and packaged at the peak of ripeness, so its nutritional value is comparable to the fresh stuff. Just be sure to check the label for added sweeteners.
Nut butter on a whole-grain tortilla
This protein-rich snack takes just a few seconds to throw together. Spread two tablespoons (one serving) of nut or soy butter onto a whole-grain tortilla, then fold or roll it up. “Read the label and look for what a serving size is,” advises Waisman. “Some of the large tortillas can actually count as two servings, according to Canada’s Food Guide.” Also read the nut-butter labels to check for added sugar and flavours.
Is there a more snack-worthy food than the humble egg? “Eggs are the perfect protein. They pack a lot of nutrition; they have lots of vitamins and minerals, and they’re inexpensive,” says Waisman. They even come with their own packaging-how’s that for convenient? Hard-boil a batch of eggs and store them in the fridge so you can quickly grab one on your way out the door to snack on with a few whole-grain crackers.
Half a chicken sandwich
This is a terrific way to use up leftovers from last night’s dinner. Cut a slice of bread into two halves and pile on 1 to 2 ounces of leftover roast chicken, turkey, beef, egg salad or tofu. “Most deli meats pack a lot of sodium, so it’s always a better option to use your own leftover meats,” says Waisman.
Homemade cereal bars or muffins
Homemade cereal bars and muffins are not only compact and portable, but you can also make them in large batches and freeze in individual portions for added convenience. “Scour your favourite cookbooks and look for flavours your family loves,” suggests Waisman, who recommends using cookbooks that provide a nutrient analysis of the recipes. Need a little inspiration? Try our Breakfast Muffins and Chewy Walnut Trail Bars.
Beans and lentils
They’re not the most obvious snacking choice, but don’t overlook legumes. “One of the most undervalued types of foods are beans and peas,” says Waisman. “They’re so easy to prepare, and they’re one of the least costly sources of really great nutrition.” She suggests seasoning and roasting chickpeas, or puréeing white beans with garlic and lemon juice for a healthy dip or sandwich spread. Just be careful when using canned varieties-they can be high in sodium, so be sure to drain and rinse them first.