9 Healthy Crunchy Snacks to Keep On-Hand
Looking for healthy nibbles that pack a good crunch? From popcorn to cereal, these goodies will do the trick.
When I want a snack, I want it to be crunchy. Chips, crackers, pretzels — if it makes a lot of noise when you eat it, I love it. Even the word “snacks” has a gloriously brittle ring to it.
So when I want a healthier option, these are the crunchy snacks I reach for.
“A few cups of air-popped or low-fat popcorn is a healthy way to satisfy that crunch craving. Popcorn is also a source of fibre, which will help you feel fuller for longer,” says Ottawa-based registered dietitian Janie Hachey of Healthy Reflections Dietetic Services.
2. Roasted chickpeas
Inexpensive, tasty and well worth the effort, home-baked chickpeas will deliver not just crunch, but all-important fibre, iron and folate to your diet, according to the Heart & Stroke Foundation. Not sure how to make them? Here are five tasty ways to serve chickpeas up as snacks and you can make a big batch, cool them, and store for future snack attacks or surprise visitors.
3. Almonds and pumpkin seeds
“A quarter cup of nuts can be a healthy snack idea,” says Hachey. “They’re loaded with fibre, protein and antioxidants, and contain healthy mono and polyunsaturated fats.” Go for unsalted versions to curb sodium intake.
I grew up with mild lactose intolerance so I shunned milk, but I liked dry cereals. I’d snack on them at recess instead of eating cereal as a breakfast food. Turns out, I’m not the only one in the habit of eating cereal without milk. “My favourite midmorning snack is 1/2 cup of high-fibre cereal,” says Hachey. “It has enough crunch to satisfy my craving, and fibre to keep me satisfied until my next meal.” You can have it on its own, or combine it with low-fat yogurt, she says. Hachey suggests choosing a cereal that has at least six grams of fibre per serving, and less than ten grams of added sugar. Here’s the healthiest cereal to buy in Canada.
5. Trail mix
Traditionally used as an easily portable, stamina-providing food for hikers, hence the name, homemade trail mix can really be any medley of dry foods you enjoy. You could even mix the previously mentioned snacks together (cereal, almonds, pumpkin seeds, roasted chickpeas and popcorn) for your own blend. Recipes abound online such as our walnut trail mix, and trail mix in general is limited only by your imagination and ingredient preference.
6. Frozen grapes
Naturally sweet and full of health-promoting polyphenols (a compound that protects against heart disease), grapes can handily slay a rampant sugar craving. Increase grapes’ crunch factor by freezing them for a refreshing treat, which is also a sensible alternative to serving candy to kids. The Defeat Diabetes Foundation recommends rinsing and patting them dry, arranging in a single layer on a cookie sheet and placing them in the freezer until frozen. If you’re not eating them right away, transfer grapes to a freezer bag or airtight container for longer storage.
The name is fancy and French, but crudités are nothing more than cut-up fresh vegetables. Slice up raw veggies such as red bell pepper, broccoli or cucumber and serve with dip — it’s that easy. If you anticipate being pressed for time, either stick with baby carrots that don’t need any prep work, or double or triple your knife work and store extra portions in the fridge crisper for several days’ worth of veggies.
(Related: Try this delish pumpkin hummus)
8. Baked pita or tortilla chips
We’re not talking about the kind you buy prepackaged, liberally coated with salt and oil — this is the kind you make at home. Use your toaster to crisp up a small whole-wheat pita, then cut it into small wedges. Add a Greek yogurt-based dip or even flavourful vinegar like balsamic mixed with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and you’ve got a snack that’s sophisticated enough for guests.
9. Apple slices and nut butter
Apples by themselves? Boring. Apples sliced up with a side serving of tasty nut butter and a dash of cinnamon to spread over top? Now we’re talking.