Snacking should be as mandatory as breakfast
Dietitian Rachel Beller, a nutritionist on The Biggest Loser, told Redbook magazine that grazing during the day has big impact. If you get too hungry between meals, that can deplete your willpower and make you consume more calories overall. The trick to snacking for health? Choose nutrient-rich foods and filling combos of protein and fiber, like these popular picks from top dietitians and weight-loss bloggers. Some of these healthy foods are even more nutritious than you realize.
Baked sweet potato fries
This vitamin A-rich snack is a healthy-kid favorite, but there’s no reason you can’t also enjoy this Parenting recipe that swaps bad carbs for good ones: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Cut four sweet potatoes into 1-inch-wide wedges, place flesh-side down on a roasting pan, then brush with a mixture of 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Cook, turning once, for 20-25 minutes. Remove pan from oven and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon kosher salt.
Krispy kale chips
This unbelievable source of vitamins K, A, and C may become your new go-to late-afternoon snack. From Self: Place 1 large bunch raw kale leaves, stems removed, on a cookie sheet, then drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil and a pinch of salt. Cook at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until crispy, about 10 to 12 minutes. Love it? Check out more creative kale recipes.
Popcorn with a kick
A favorite, family-friendly snack for dietitian and Real Mom Nutrition blogger Sally Kuzemchak is popcorn—a surprising source of fiber and antioxidants. (That's just one reason why you NEED popcorn in your diet.) Among her favorite toppings: garlic, parmesan cheese, and sugar/salt.
Homemade kettle corn
DIY kettle corn can eliminate some of the artificial chemicals from processed versions. Greatist recommends tossing 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1 teaspoon of Stevia with 2 cups of freshly popped popcorn. Shake in a paper bag for even distribution. (You can swap the Stevia for 1 teaspoon of honey plus 1 teaspoon of water, microwaved for 20 seconds to thin it out.)
Though she admits that she’s not a big snacker—“I really like to be hungry for meals”—Cara Eisenpress of Big Girls Small Kitchen says her favorite snack is healthier nachos: 3 to 4 Food Should Taste Good Multigrain chips, a few pinches of cheddar, a zap in the microwave, and a dollop of guacamole or sprinkle of scallions. Add more chips and cheddar, and you've got an easy Mexican appetizer anyone can make.
Brown rice bonanza
Feedmeimcranky’s Annabel Adams makes a big batch of brown rice on the weekends, and for weekday snacks heats up a small bowl and tops it with salsa, hummus, or Trader Joe’s ‘Cowboy Caviar,’ a mix of black beans, peppers, and roasted corn.
Low-carb turkey wrap
Make a snack out of a turkey wrap, which is one of Dr. Oz’s top snacks—and only 75 calories. Spread 2 teaspoons of honey mustard on 3 thin slices of turkey; top with 1/4 cup sliced apple and wrap in lettuce. (Can turkey really make you tired?)
Cinnamon-spiced baked apples
These are a quick, healthy snack favorite of Diane Carbonell, founder of the Fit to the Finish blog. Core a crisp apple (such as Granny Smith or Fuji) and put the wedges in a microwave-safe bowl. Sprinkle with a teaspoon of brown sugar and a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg, then toss to cover. Cover the bowl with a microwave-safe plate and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on high. Carbonell will sometimes add raisins or a dollop of nut butter after the apples cook. The apple is less than 90 calories and provides 3 grams of filling fiber; raisins also add more iron, vitamin C, and fiber. Try these apple pairings for more ridiculous health benefits.
Chocolate-drizzled fruit kebobs
Health magazine skewers 1 strawberry, 2 blueberries, 1 piece each kiwi, cantaloupe, pineapple, and then drizzling with 1 teaspoon Hershey’s chocolate syrup for a filling, fruit dessert that quenches a chocolate craving too.