Snacks seem to confuse and elude us. One of the most popular questions I get is, “What do I eat for snack?” We seem to have these unwritten rules about snacks, and most of them just don’t serve us.
Snacks are small meals, or maybe even the same size portion as your meal. (They can even be a leftover from your meal…more on that later!) There is no specific type of food that denotes a snack – unless you are in the food manufacturing industry. The goal of a snack is to nourish your body with vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients needed for good health throughout the day, to help increase absorption, stabilize blood sugars and decrease the chance of becoming too hungry overeating or making an unnecessary choice at days end.
I will agree that snacks may require some thought for children at school, shuttling from school to sport, anyone on the go, air travel, lack of refrigeration, or anyone accustomed to grabbing something in a package or box to eat in between meals. Sure, there are some times when a self contained snack in a bag is ideal, but that should really be the exception, not the norm, and for THAT, we can have some rules.
HEALTHY, ACCESSIBLE SNACKS include:
- Bell Pepper sliced into sticks – red, green and yellow
- Sliced Cucumber, or cucumber salad
- Piece of fruit like an apple, orange or grapefruit -there are many varietals for experiment!
- Sliced apple or pear with nut butter
- Chopped apple with cinnamon
- Nut and berry “cereal”
- Trail mix -pre-measured amount to avoid overeating
- Leftover portion from breakfast, lunch or dinner
- Sliced hard boiled egg, chicken salad, sweet potato fries (leftover from meals…)
- Almond milk smoothie with nut butter, cocoa and more…
If you are a growing teenager, or someone who needs a larger snack, choose two from the above list.
NOT THE GO TO, BUT THE WILL DO:
I recently ran into Trader Joe’s to scope out some packaged snacks. I find that while not always ideal, Trader Joe’s has some better options available.
Coconut Crispy Rolls wafer cookies – A small and tasty tube cookie, the ingredients are simple, and seemingly preserved with sugar and salt. The remaining ingredients are coconut milk, tapioca starch, eggs and sesame seeds. There are some health claims to the ingredients (but don’t consider this a health food – still a cookie) B+ (points deducted for minimal processing)
Trader Joe’s Seaweed Snacks
These are, interestingly enough, a fan favorite at my house, and pack and travel well. The ingredients are sea salt and seaweed. Not knowing much about the source of the seaweed, I’ll go with it’s fine until I read otherwise 🙂 Seaweed snacks get an A.
These are, interestingly enough, a fan favorite at my house, and pack and travel well. The ingredients are sea salt and seaweed. Not knowing much about the source of the seaweed, I’ll go with it’s fine until I read otherwise 🙂 Seaweed snacks get an
TJ’s Seasoned Kale Chips
These tasted ok to me, but the kids thought these lacked flavor. Slightly processed and some sugars lands this snack on the go in the B range.
TJ’s Blueberry Almond Peanut Date & Nut Bites
These mini bites were a big hit for taste and the ingredient list consists of ground nuts, seeds, fruits. Minimally processed, but wholesome ingredients earn this an A.
TJ’s Crispy Crunchy Broccoli Florets
Puffed broccoli, rice bran oil and salt combine to make this snack an interesting choice. The broccoli flavor is absolutely present and very strange in dried form. Once ou are over that, this tastes pretty good. Still reviewing rice bran oil, so until further notice this snacks gets a B+ for minimal processing and the unknown possibilities of rice bran oil.
TJ’s Savory Banana & Nuts Trek Mix
The indgredients are pretty solid here, and do not include any major preservatives. Apple cider vinegar and sea salt likely keep this shelf stable. The taste is fine, but we all decided that creating our own banana and chip mix was more flavorful. This is a reasonable choice that comes in at A-, points off for minimal processing.
Not at Trader Joe’s, but worthy of a mention, the Hu choclates are well sourced, vegan non dairy dark chocolates. I’ve had a few different, and my favorite remains Cashew Butter with Vanilla Bean and Dark Chocolate. I love them not only for their tag line of “IT’S TIME TO GET BACK TO THE WAY HUMAN’S ATE BEFORE INDUSTRY RUINED THE FOOD”, but also their practices. The products are made with organic ingredients wherever possible, fair trade chocolate, and do NOT include refined sugars, dairy, soy lecithin, palm oil, cane sugar, sugar alcohols, vanilla extract or emulsifiers. Wow! But, what does it taste like?? I haven’t eaten them all, but I can vouch for the cashew butter! This is a chocolate and not a healthy snack , but considering the category A- (points deducted as there is no way a dairy free chocolate can measure against say a European handcrafted chocolate!)
Remember that wholesome foods are always the best choices, but in a pinch, you can still make better choices than your average processed snack!