Many people in the U.S. are revamping the way they eat. As more and more shift their diets to lighter, low-fat proteins mingled with complex carbohydrates, mid-morning or late afternoon snack time is not only inevitable, it’s advisable. You should, in fact, be fairly hungry every three to five hours when you’re eating right. So, those hunger pangs that visit you around 2 or 3 p.m. every day are completely healthy. Turning your snack time into something colorful and creative will encourage you to keep your lunches light and your metabolism firing.
A Primer on Healthy Snacking
The key to any snack is one that it’s high in good things and low in bad things. Good things include protein, fiber and whole grains. Bad things consist of too much saturated or hydrogenated fats, refined sugar, and excessive sodium. Usually, the choices are obvious, but it’s best to avoid processed foods, salty fried snacks (sadly, this still includes potato chips), cookies, and sweetened soft drinks.
Prepare a Stash of Healthy Chips
The more you give yourself healthy, fresh alternatives, the less you’ll turn to the dark side of convenience stores and vending machines at work. Eating light at lunch, like a half sandwich with a small salad, is a lot more appealing if you know that there is a delicious and savory snack waiting for you in the fridge. You can store healthy chip substitutes and dips in the kitchen at work or home to have ready for your mid-afternoon cravings.
Because anything fried is high in calories, embrace anything that’s baked and non-sweetened. Whole wheat or whole grain crackers and baked chips are fast and easy store-bought alternatives. If you’re sticking to a gluten-free diet or you’re trying to sneak in more veggies, try roasting thinly slicing yams, butternut squash, carrots, or beets with salt and healthy extra virgin olive oil until they’re crisp. If you love tortilla chips, try this trick: slice 6 corn tortillas into quarters and bake in the oven at 325 until golden and toss them with a little salt.
Pair them With Yummy Dips
If you make a big batch of dip at the beginning of the week, you should have enough to get you through a 5-day workweek. Try making more than one at a time for some variety. The internet has plenty of ideas, but here are few to get you started.
If you have a recipe calls for a base of sour cream, exchange it for low-fat Greek yogurt; it is just as thick and creamy and has a fraction of the fat calories. Here’s a fun one to try: blend a pint of low-fat Greek yogurt, 6 ounces of frozen spinach (thawed and completely drained of any liquid), 1/2 medium onion (finely chopped in the food processor until it’s nearly liquid), 1 teaspoon cumin, and salt to taste. Let it sit in the fridge for at least an hour for the flavors to mingle.
Make black bean hummus as an alternative to its higher fat chickpea cousin. Grab a can of black beans, drained and rinsed, reserving about 1/4 cup of the canning liquid. Puree those ingredients along with 1-2 cleaned scallions, a pinch of cayenne, and salt to taste. Serve with no-fat Pico di Gallo and 8 of the fat-free, baked tortilla chips.
Stylish Dipping Bowls Promote Healthy Choices
Turning your snack presentation into a ritual makes the entire process more satisfying. A set of dipping bowls is a fun, colorful, and elegant serving solution. Chilled bowls are also a fashionable choice, and one that could help a picky eater in the home or office stay on track with their healthy diet goals. Lids that snap in place keep leftovers fresh in the fridge until it’s time to nibble. Iced bowls also keep dips cold and temperature stable while you work away at your desk.
Snacking should be fun and guilt-free. Try these low-carb, low-fat dip options today to avoid high-calorie temptation. No one said you had to starve to be healthy.