I wholeheartedly believe in eating healthy as consistently as possible (with a little room for my favorite indulgences – dirty martinis, pineapple and olive pizza, and cheese plates) and that treating one’s body right benefits every aspect of a person’s life. Since it’s the start of the new year, I feel even more motivated to keep my diet clean and work out more than I used to. While I mainly keep my meals healthy, I have found that one of the biggest diet-busting culprits is snacking. It’s easy to overindulge on decadent treats like chocolate, ice cream, and chips but it’s also easy to over do it on seemingly healthy nibbles like cheese and crackers and even nuts. That being said, snacking can (and should) be a part of a healthy diet, as long as it is done right with nutrient dense, low-calorie options. With this in mind, I have rounded up 7 of my favorite guilt-free snacks.
1 // Dried Seaweed
I don’t really have much of a sweet tooth and I can easily pass on the rich, calorie-laden desserts that make most other people weak in the knees. However, if you put a plate of cheesy nachos or salty fries in front of me, it’s game over. Dried seaweed manages to curb my salt craving without making me forego my healthy diet. It’s crispy, savory, and just as addicting as a pack of chips but with a small fraction of the calories. Rich in magnesium, potassium, selenium, and vitamin A, B, and C, dried seaweed packs a serious nutritional punch.
2 // Goji Berries
I decided to give goji berries a try after reading an interview with Australian supermodel Miranda Kerr in which she deemed the tart red superfood one of her go-to beautifying snacks. While no amount of antioxidant-rich berries will transform me into a Victoria Secret angel, I was intrigued to try them and see if they a) would make my skin glow and my hair bouncy and b) if they actually taste good. Well, guess what? They are actually pretty tasty, they keep me sated in between meals, and since I’ve started eating them regularly I do notice a healthier glow to my skin (but maybe that’s just wishful thinking). They are a bit tart, like dried cranberries but a little bit sweeter. Plus they are chock full of antioxidants, fiber, and beta-carotene. I keep this low-calorie, nutrient-high snack in my purse to nosh on at work and when I’m feeling a bit peckish.
3 // Popcorn with Olive Oil & Sea Salt
I’m obsessed with popcorn and it’s my favorite movie-time snack. It’s also surprisingly healthy – so long as you pop it yourself, either with an old-fashioned air popper or a healthy oil like coconut or olive oil. It’s low in calories (1 cup of air-popped popcorn has only 30 calories) and actually has a ton of antioxidants. I choose to skip the artery-clogging butter and instead drizzle mine with olive oil and add a sprinkle a bit of sea salt for an added dose of healthy fats and flavor.
4 // Edamame
My boyfriend loves edamame and is the one who got me hooked on them. Edamame has become a trendy food and its stellar reputation is well deserved. Edamame is a young soybean which has been harvested before it has had a chance to harden. These delightful green gems are low in calories, high in protein, and are packed with vitamins, protein, magnesium, and iron. They are also naturally free of cholesterol and gluten. I also love them because they are delicious and super easy to prepare. Simply steam them on the stove or pop them in the microwave in a bowl with a bit of water. They are delicious on their own but are even tastier with a bit of salt and cayenne pepper.
5 // Frozen Fruit
When I’m craving ice cream but don’t want to splurge, a bowl full of frozen fruit totally hits the spot. Sometimes I’ll blend the fruit in my food processor for a sorbet-like treat that feels like an indulgence but is completely healthy and free of added sugar. Pro-tip: if you are feeling creative, blend a couple of frozen bananas with a couple of spoonfuls of cocoa powder. Voila! Chocolate ‘ice cream’ that is full of vitamins and totally guilt-free.
6 // Plain Yogurt and Honey
I’ve always loved yogurt, but a lot of the flavored versions that are available in stores are way too sweet for my taste and are loaded with unnecessary junk like gelatin and processed sugar. Instead, I prefer to eat plain yogurt (greek yogurt is my favorite) with just a little bit of honey. Sometimes I will toss a couple of frozen blueberries on top for some extra sweetness and added vitamin C. It’s not too sweet but is very flavorful and fills me up without making me feel heavy or bloated. It makes a great breakfast or late snack and is filled with satiating protein and calcium.
7 // Veggies and Hummus
I have to say, I’ve never come across a vegetable that I didn’t love and I don’t need any dips, dressings, or seasonings to make me want to eat them. That being said, if you don’t love veggies, dipping them in garlicky hummus is sure to change your mind. I like to make my own with chickpeas, olive oil, garlic and a bit of salt. I’ve seen recipes with spinach and beets added and they look amazing as well. Hummus can be pretty calorie-dense but it has tons of nutrients. As long as you keep your portions under control, this is a completely diet-friendly, healthy, delicious snack for any time of day.