Reaching for fat- and sugar-filled snacks when you start feeling #hangry is a major no-no when you're trying to get that bikini bod before summer. While potato chips, soda, and cookies might be a quick fix for your hunger, mindlessly eating them day after day is certain to make you feel sluggish and even hungrier later. So, instead of indulging yourself in fatty, artificially sweetened foods, go for something that's going to make you feel energized and alive.
Although it's often associated with weight gain, snacking is something we definitely recommend—with the right foods. In fact, snacking on healthy foods throughout the day is one of the best ways to avoid packing on the pounds. To consider your snack healthy, it should have around 4 grams of protein, between 130 and 250 calories and be low in sugar (especially refined or artificial kinds). Psst! We've actually ranked Every Popular Added Sweetener to help you figure out what's what.
Skip the weight gain and health issues that come hand-in-hand with junk food and grab one of these 23 treats loaded with good-for-you ingredients.
MIXED NUTS AND FRUIT
Make a homemade trail mix minus the sugary additives like milk chocolate and sweetened dried fruit. Instead just simply combine your choice of raw almonds, cashews, walnuts and pistachios with unsweetened coconut flakes and chopped pitted dates or raisins. This is a hearty dose of protein, healthy fats and natural sugar. To get a toasted flavor out of the nuts, roast them at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.
PEANUT BUTTER STUFFED BANANA
Two ingredients and two easy steps, what more could we ask for in a delicious snack. Just slice one small banana in half lengthwise and sandwich about 2 tablespoons of your favorite peanut butter between. If you're feeling really fancy, drizzle on honey or a sprinkle of cinnamon. This high-protein banana sandwich is the perfect cure to midday cravings.
HUMMUS AND VEGGIES
A basic hummus is made from power-packed ingredients like chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice and spices. Chickpeas are loaded with protein and fiber that'll keep you full and help support your digestive track. It's super simple to prepare in large batches and can easily be portioned out and brought to work or school as a snack. Pair ½ cup of hummus with refreshing veggies like carrots, celery, and cucumber and you're sure to be satisfied until your next meal.
YOGURT AND GRANOLA
Yogurt is not just for your mornings, load up a bowl of Siggi's Icelandic yogurt (packed with more protein than the popular Greek version) for an appetizing afternoon pick-me-up. Top it with a small handful of granola, berries and cinnamon to boost the antioxidant properties. We suggest picking up full-fat, plain yogurts and adding your own flavors to keep out all the unnecessary sugars and preservatives.
If you're an avid reader of Eat This, Not That! you probably know that we're big fans of energy balls like these 25 Recipes for Energy Bites That Live Up to The Hype, and for good reason! Whether you make them raw or bake them in the oven, they're a quick, healthy treat gleaming with flavors and textures. You can pack two or three into your day as a pre-workout snack or enjoy them when that three o'clock feeling rolls around and your stomach start aching for food. The best combos we see are a mix of fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and spices.
Sprinkle chocolate protein powder and cayenne over air-popped popcorn to get an extra dose of protein into your snack with a flavorful kick. Popcorn has filling fiber and whole-grains that midday craving killers. But be sure to avoid those prepackaged microwave kind! Many big-name brands line their bags with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a compound that some studies have linked to infertility, weight gain, and impaired learning. To see what else is lurking in your food, check out 40 Most Horrifying Things Found in Food.
CRISPY ROASTED CHICKPEAS
Crunchy and packed with protein, there's no combo more satisfying when it comes to snacking. Roast chickpeas in a drizzle of olive oil and your favorite spices in a 400-degree oven for about 40 minutes, until you get a golden brown crispy bite. It's a foolproof recipe to make at home, but if you're in a rush grab a Biena Chickpea Snack, created by one of these 14 Kick-Butt Momtrepreneurs!
APPLE ALMOND BUTTER SANDWICHES
Skip the dip and make a sammie! Instead of your average apple slices and almond butter, core and cut the apples into slices and spread a thin layer of almond butter on half the slices. Top them with the remaining apple slices and viola! Apple almond butter sandwiches. You can also add a sprinkle of chia seeds or flax meal to boost it with even more health benefits. It's an innovative way to turn a simple snack into a fun one.
TUNA AVOCADO BOAT
With just four ingredients you can make a gourmet snack in an instant. Take one avocado, 1 lemon, 1 tablespoon chopped onion, and 5 ounces of canned tuna, pit the avocado and scoop out about half of the avocado into a bowl, leaving a layer of avocado along the shell (do with both sides). In that bowl add tuna, lemon juice, chopped onion and salt and pepper and mix well. Fill avocado shells with tuna salad and enjoy! Since this is just a snack, we recommend just eating half and saving the other half for later.
COTTAGE CHEESE, PEACHES AND HONEY
Cottage cheese is relatively low in calories and sugar, and very high in protein—enough that only 4 ounces of cottage cheese will provide around 20-25 percent of daily protein requirements! Pair it with a chopped peach and a touch honey for a sweet hint. Peaches have been found to ward off obesity and heart disease with its ample dose of beta carotene.
GUACAMOLE SPRING ROLLS
Guacamole is a dip sent straight from the gods. But it can be something you completely lose track of eating and then look down to realize you've eaten a whole bag of tortilla chips and the guac is gone. To keep your portions in check try wrapping a heaping tablespoon of freshly made guacamole into a rice paper wrapper and roll it up just like a mini burrito. Dip it into a hot sauce to get an extra punch!
TURKEY CUCUMBER ROLL UPS
Slice cucumbers thinly lengthwise, evenly distribute 2 slices of turkey and cheese on each cucumber and roll em' up! Use a toothpick to hold them together if you're on the go or enjoy them right there! This is a super low-carb snack that packs in a good amount of protein to keep you going.
CHOCOLATE AVOCADO PUDDING
You could go to the supermarket and pick up on of those pre-packaged puddings loaded with artificial flavors and refined sugar or you could have an all-natural snack made with just three ingredients. Combine ½ an avocado, 100% cocoa powder and 2 teaspoons of maple syrup and mix until smooth. Cocoa is a heart-healthy spice that is shown to reduce risks of cardiovascular problems and control inflammation-related diseases. Not to mention, its chocolatey flavor is off-the-charts yummy!
FROZEN YOGURT BARK
Mix 1 cup of plain, full fat Greek yogurt and 1 tablespoon of maple syrup together until well combined. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil and pour the mixture on top, spreading thin and evenly. Top with a handful of berries, nuts, seeds, cacao nibs or shredded coconut, and place in the freezer overnight. Once completely frozen, break the bark into piece and store frozen. It's better to always go for the unflavored brands of yogurt and add your own sweeteners so you know just what's going into it. Go ahead and grab a piece when you feel your blood sugar dropping or before a workout, the healthy fat and protein will give you a boost of energy you're looking for.
SIMPLE CHIA PUDDING
Chia pudding can be made with just chia seeds and a liquid. But, why not get some added protein and bold flavor by incorporating a protein powder or nut butter? We suggest using almond milk with Aloha vanilla protein powder or cashew butter!
SCRAMBLED EGG STUFFED PEPPERS
Scramble up one egg (yolk included) with some Italian seasoning and olive oil. Cut one red pepper in half and stuff the pepper with your egg. This is a light snack that has around 6 grams of high-quality protein and no sugar or carbs. Keeping the egg yolks packs in choline, a nutrient that helps liver function and nutrient transportation throughout the body.
Using a ½ cup of Greek or Icelandic yogurt and 1 tablespoon of nut butter you can make an easy dip to dunk your favorite fruits into. This creamy, rich dip will up your protein—and whether it be bananas, apples or strawberries you're dipping, you're guaranteed to enjoy!
HOMEMADE CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT DIP
You're probably familiar with brands like Nutella that sell a heavenly chocolate-hazelnut spread, but if you're looking to shed pounds before summer, that's a definite Not This! with ingredients like sugar and palm oil topping the list. Instead, make your own at home by combining skinless protein-rich hazelnuts and cocoa powder with your choice of natural sweetener in a food processor until well combined and smooth. (We love this recipe from Minimalist Baker!) Spread a tablespoon on a slice of whole grain bread or use it as a dip for your fruits. It tastes just as good and is something you don't have to feel guilty about.
Place 1 Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Grain Tortilla, 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, a handful of spinach and mozzarella or parmesan cheese on a low to medium heated pan. Allow the cheese to melt and fold tortilla. You can also do this in a panini maker to make the cleanup even easier! By using a tomato paste instead of a sauce you are sure to be getting just pureed tomatoes, which are rich in lycopene, an antioxidant that's linked to lower risks of heart disease. Cut the quesadilla in half and keep half for later.
MICROWAVE MUG EGG
Microwave mug recipes have become all the rage these days because of how quick they come together and delicious they taste! Just coat a mug with cookie spray, add two eggs and spices and mix well. Microwave for about 45 seconds and then mix again. Microwave again for 45 seconds—and, just like that, you have scrambled eggs. Speaking of mug recipes for better health, go check out these easy 20 Mouthwatering Mug Recipes!
QUICK FRUIT AND PROTEIN SMOOTHIE
If you're hungry but in a hurry, make a healthy protein smoothie with any extra fruits and veggies lying around. Combine things like leafy greens such as kale or spinach, avocado, banana, pineapple, coconut milk, and an unsweetened protein powder to have a tropical drink at your hand. For more smoothie recipes, check out 56 Best Smoothie Recipes for Weight Loss.
HARD BOILED EGGS
One of the simplest ways to have a good-for-you snack is by boiling eggs ahead of time. Boil a dozen eggs at the beginning of the week to make sure you have a snack to grab when your belly starts to rumble. It's not only loaded with protein but packed with vital minerals and vitamins that will keep you glowing at about 70 calories a pop.
SPICED PUMPKIN SEEDS
Go spicy, salty or sweet, there's really just no wrong way to go with flavoring your pumpkin seeds. It's an easy way to satisfy those crunchy cravings without reaching for a bag of potato chips covered in grease.