Sweet, Salty, Crunchy, Creamy: 49 Healthy Snacks to Satisfy Every Craving
Salty, crunchy, sweet, creamy: For every craving that attacks between meals, we’ve come up with healthy snacks that satisfy.
Study shows: Taking on one kind of craving at a time may help you eat less.
Who knew: If you approach one craving at a time (salty, sweet, crunch, creamy), you’re less likely to overeat. That’s because we tend to take in more when we taste different flavors, compared to when we have a single one. So processed foods, which tend to combine lots of flavors (like sugar and salt) or textures, are essentially priming your brain to pig out. Our advice? Stick to healthy snacks that are about 100 to 200 calories with 15 to 30 grams of carbohydrates, like the options on the next pages.
Sweet: Greek yogurt with berries
When you’re looking for an energy-boosting snack that will also tame a sweet tooth, Greek yogurt is a sure and easy bet. “Greek yogurt offers a thicker and creamier texture with a tart taste, and has more protein compared to regular yogurt,” says Kathryn Cottell, registered dietitian nutritionist for Stony Brook Medicine. “It also helps you stay full for longer, since it’s packed with protein, and also contains probiotics, calcium, antioxidants, and fiber that are good for your gut.” For an added antioxidant boost, toss in a cup of berries. “Blueberries contain less sugar than most berries, but packs 200 percent of your recommended daily intake of manganese, a mineral that helps regulate blood sugar, heal the skin, and maintain bone health,” says Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN, nutrition expert and author of Feed the Belly and Eating in Color. Or try one of these ten healthy toppings for Greek yogurt.
Sweet: Dark chocolate
Chocolate is everyone’s favorite treat, but it also has some serious health benefits, especially darker chocolate. “Dark chocolate contains heart-protective flavonols, which have been shown to help lower blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke,” explains Largeman-Roth. “It may also aid in keeping your skin hydrated and your brain sharp.” Look for brands that contain at least 70 percent cacao, the bean-like seed from which cocoa, cocoa butter, and chocolate are made. Typically, the higher the percentage of cacao, the less added sugar. Stick to a 1-ounce (often 100 calorie) serving.
Sweet: Energy balls
If you’re into DIY-ing your favorite Pinterest recipes, this sweet fix is for you. Not only are energy balls the perfect healthy snack, but most recipes call for a nutritious combination of protein, carbs, and healthy fats. “Energy balls are a great way to pack plenty of nutrients into small, portioned packages” says Largeman-Roth. Her go-to recipe for the Ultimate Power Balls calls for dried plums, puffed millet, puffed rice, chocolate chips, sesame seeds, SunButter, and honey. “You just mix it all together, chill the mixture, then roll it into balls and coat with unsweetened shredded coconut,” she says.”Each one is plenty sweet, but has only 86 calories, one gram of fiber, and some calcium.” Sounds like the perfect thing to grab before a morning run or power walk. Check out these tasty recipes for these homemade energy bars.
Sweet: Pomegranate juice
When you are craving a sip of something sweet, try your best to avoid the sodas and juice drinks that contain large amounts of added sugars and artificial ingredients. Instead, grab POM 100 percent Pomegranate juice, suggests Palinski-Wade. “In every 8-ounce bottle, POM contains the juice of two whole pomegranates without all of the work opening one.” Plus, it provides a good source of potassium. Pour a splash into a glass of seltzer for a bubbly treat.
Salty: Roasted edamame
These green pods are packed with energy-boosting nutrients including protein, fiber, complex carbohydrates, and amino acids without a lot of fat or sugar. Edamame’s vitamins and mineral list is even more impressive—calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, folate, riboflavin, vitamins C, E, and B6 to name a handful. It has a savory, nutty flavor, so when you add a sprinkle of salt it’s a quite satiating, as well as filling. “A one-quarter cup serving of roasted edamame has only 130 calories and provides 8 grams of fiber and 14 grams of protein,” says Keri Gans, RD, New York City-based nutritionist and author of The Small Change Diet. “The combination of the fiber and protein will keep you full until your next meal.”
Nuts, including almonds and pistachios, not only satisfy your cravings for salt, but they’re packed with heart-healthy fats and energy-boosting protein, which both keep you full for longer. “The potassium content in almonds goes a long way in helping offset the impact of the added sodium from the salt,” says Palinski-Wade. Pistachios are another great choice. “You can eat one-fourth cup of shelled pistachios for just 160 calories and still get 6 grams protein, 3 grams fiber, and 310 milligrams of potassium, which is important for your heart and other muscles,” says Largeman-Roth. And don’t feel the need to stick to just one variety. Research shows that regularly eating a mix of nuts could help you live longer. Find out the other foods that help to naturally lower your cholesterol.
With a meaty texture, this fruit (yes, fruit!) really delivers savory satisfaction. “The fat in olives and olive oil is mostly heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, which can help lower blood pressure and also lower LDL (bad) cholesterol,” explains Largeman-Roth. “Olives also contain various phytonutrients, which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.” However, you choose to enjoy them—as is or tossed on a salad—olives are the perfect salt fix in a snap because they’re good for portion control. If you’re looking for a pre-packaged variety, try Pearls Kalamata Olives to Go, suggests Gorin. “They come in little packs of about nine olives!”
With just 16 calories per cup, you just can’t go wrong with enjoying a good old pickle as a quick snack. Pickles are essentially cucumbers that have been saturated and brined in vinegar. While the vinegar alone adds only one calorie per teaspoon, it packs a ton of flavor (in addition to some relatively high amounts of sodium). “Aside from their sodium count, pickles are great at stopping salt cravings in their tracks,” says Gans. “And the beauty of a pickle is that there are practically no calories, so if you end up having more than one, no big deal.” Plus they are loaded with probiotics.
Salty and sweet: Watermelon and feta cheese
Just one cup diced watermelon served with one to two ounces of feta cheese can seriously help satisfy the sweet and salty craving. “Not only does this snack contain vitamins, minerals, and protein, but the flavor combination of the crisp, fresh watermelon and the salty feta offers a nice balance of that salty-sweet mix,” says Cottell. “Watermelon is a refreshing, low-calorie juicy fruit that provides a sweet flavor and is a good source of vitamin C and the antioxidant lycopene.” For an extra boost of flavor, add a drizzle of balsamic glaze and sprinkle with chopped basil or arugula.
Salty and sweet: DIY trail mix
Pre-packaged trail mixes often contain added sugars, saturated fats, and artificial ingredients that add minimal flavor, seriously tanking the nutrition scale. To avoid this, simply make your own with one-fourth cup lightly salted nuts and a tablespoon of dark chocolate chips. “This snack offers a nice balance of that sweet and salty combination and the protein and fiber from the nuts will help keep you full and satisfied between meals,” says Cottell. “If you’re not sure which nut to use, try walnuts as their crunchy texture pairs nicely with the smooth mini dark chocolate chips.” Walnuts are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help support heart health.
You probably ate loads of those tiny red packs of raisins when you were a kid, which was a smart snack for your caregiver to dole out. “Rich in fiber and iron with no added sugars, raisins can combat both a chewy and sweet craving at the same time while serving as a much better alternative to a chewy candy,” explains Palinski-Wade. Added bonus: New research has found that regular raisin consumption may even reduce post-meal glucose levels in individuals with diabetes when compared to a snack of a crunchy alternative such as crackers.
Chewy: Goji Berries
These sweet, tart, and satisfyingly chewy red fruits have served as a staple in traditional Chinese medicine for over 5,000 years—and for good reason! They’re low in calories, contain zero fat and are an excellent source of fiber and antioxidants. In addition, goji berries have been shown to have a positive effect on mood and alertness. One 2008 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found goji berry benefits to include mental acuity, calmness, feelings of health, happiness, and significantly reduced stress and fatigue.
For a while, jerky was considered a bodybuilder’s food, but today more and more people are open to consuming dehydrated meats as a form of protein. And, as an added incentive, fewer manufacturers are using artificial additives, which significantly lowers sodium levels. “Most jerkies offer as much as 10 grams of protein per serving with as low as one or even zero grams of fat,” says Gans. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, they now even offer plant-based jerkies, made from tempeh or tofu, that taste just like the meaty versions but are even lower in sodium.
Crunchy: Roasted chickpeas
While most often enjoyed finely blended in a hummus or bean dip, chickpeas are also delicious on their own. “Roasted chickpeas are a good choice when you are craving something crunchy (or salty), but don’t know exactly what you want to eat,” says Gans. “One serving is only 120 calories with five grams of fiber and five of grams protein.” Her favorite way to prepare them is to roast them in Thrive Algae oil with a little salt sprinkled on top. “Algae oil contains unprecedented levels of monounsaturated fats (the good fat) so it’s a really good everyday choice for maintaining a healthy heart.” You can also experiment with different seasoning combos, depending on your mood. Here are eight more reasons you should start eating more seaweed today.
Don’t be afraid of their peppery bite! Radishes are delicious and some can be very mild in their flavoring. Nutrition-wise, radishes are right up there with other cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. And, beyond their crunchy, satisfying texture and flavor zing, radishes are loaded with vitamins and minerals including copper, magnesium, manganese, and calcium. They’re also packed with fiber and phytonutrients that aid in digestion—at just 19 calories a cup, they’re a total snack bargain.
This slightly sweet and super crunchy root veggie has become increasingly popular in the culinary world in recent years. Also known as Mexican yam or water chestnut, jicama is loaded with vitamins C, E, and B6, folate, pantothenic acid, potassium, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, and even some protein (though small amounts). It’s also low in calories, with just 49 in one whole cup. “Instead of dipping chips in guacamole, try jicama sticks,” suggests Largeman-Roth. “Spritz with lime juice and a little cayenne pepper for an extra kick.”
Crunchy: Apple and peanut butter
As they say, an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but an apple alone won’t keep you full until lunchtime. That’s where protein-packed peanut butter comes into play. “Not only does this snack help fulfill that sweet and crunchy craving, it contains fiber, vitamins, minerals, protein, and healthy fats,” says Cottell. Try a medium-sized Honeycrisp apple for an extra burst of flavor, as these apples are known to be sweet and juicy. A natural, crunchy nut butter not only pairs nicely with the apple, but it also provides protein and heart healthy fats that will help to keep you full longer. Discover all the health benefits of eating apples.
Popcorn is the only grain-based snack that’s 100 percent unprocessed whole grain, as all other grains are processed and diluted with other ingredients. In addition to its heart disease-fighting abilities, thanks to being 100 percent whole grain, research has also found that popcorn contains even more antioxidants than fruit or vegetables! It’s also low in calories. “One cup of air popped is only around 30 calories, so you can definitely go back for seconds,” says Gans. “Sprinkle with a little salt, if that’s your craving, or with cinnamon if you want something more sweet.” Or, mix with a handful of nuts for a little added fat for satiety. These are other reasons you NEED popcorn in your diet.
Creamy: Chia pudding
“Chia seeds contain alpha-linolenic acid omega-3 fatty acids, which are high in fiber, gluten-free, and a good source of protein,” says Largeman-Roth. (Get the scoop on the full benefits of chia seeds.) “They’re also really simple to serve in a variety of different recipes and are cost-effective.” A quick and delicious recipe she recommends calls for three-fourths cup chia seeds plus three cups refrigerated coconut or almond milk. “In a large bowl, combine the chia seeds and coconut milk, whisk together, let stand for 30 minutes at room temperature until the mixture thickens and then whisk again before setting it aside.” Top each serving with fresh fruit and serve. Yum!
Creamy: Mini Babybel Cheese
These smooth, creamy cheese wedges provide a creamy mouth feel while providing a good source of both protein and calcium. “Mini Babybel is a 100 percent natural cheese with a unique, rich, and creamy taste,” says Gans. “One serving delivers four grams of protein and over 15 percent of your daily calcium requirements, all for 70 calories or less.” Enjoy it paired with your favorite piece of fruit.
Creamy: Whole-milk yogurt
Whole milk isn’t this evil, high-fat version it’s often chalked up to be—it’s actually good for you! Some studies even point to the benefits of eating whole-fat dairy products, including a lower risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity. “It’s unclear what exactly is creating the benefits and more studies need to be done, but the research thus far is promising,” says Largeman-Roth. “None of the large review studies of dairy have linked weight loss or reduced diabetes risk with fat-free or low-fat dairy.” In addition to its potential benefits, whole milk just tastes better. “There is a greater feeling of satiety that comes with whole milk yogurt when compared to fat-free or low-fat,” she says. “Also, the richness of whole milk yogurt means you don’t need to add as much sugar to the product for it to be delicious.”
Savory: Hummus and veggies
When enjoying a hearty and flavorful dip like hummus, it’s tempting to grab for the classic pita chips—but a better option would instead be veggies. Sure, they might sound less appetizing, but when dipped into creamy, high-fat (the good kind) hummus, you’ll be surprised by how little a difference in tastes when compared to salty, often saturated fat-laden pita chips. “Hummus and vegetables provides a savory, creamy flavor with the added crunch of the veggies while providing a good source of heart healthy fat, protein, and antioxidants to boost health and stabilize blood sugar level,” says Palinski-Wade.
Savory: Aged cheese
Cheese gets a bad rap, but it’s actually not all that bad for you—especially the aged variety. “Aged cheeses, like cheddar or Gouda, contain probiotics, live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health, especially your digestive system,” explains Largeman-Roth. “Because they are aged over time, lactic acid is formed, which destroys pathogenic bacteria without harming probiotics.” Aged cheeses also contain little-to-no lactose, the type of sugar found in most milk and dairy products, so those with lactose intolerance can often enjoy them. “If you pair aged cheese with high-fiber fruits, like apples, pears or berries, you’ll get the winning combo of prebiotics from the fruit, plus probiotics from the cheese for a gut-boosting snack,” Largeman-Roth says.
Savory: Hard-boiled eggs
These easy-to-cook and easy-to-eat snacks are great for when you’re on the go. They also pack important vitamins and nutrients that keep your bones strong, your eyes sharp, and your heart healthy. “Eggs, in general, are naturally high in protein, which helps build muscle mass and helps repair bodily tissue,” explains Gorin. “In fact, just one large egg provides six grams of protein, which seriously helps fuel you with long-lasting energy.” To make a hard-boiled egg, simply place in a pot of cold water that’s about 1-inch deep, bring to a boil and then turn off the heat. Cover the pan with a lid and let the egg sit for about 15 to 20 minutes before pouring out the hot water and pouring cold water over the eggs. Let the eggs sit in cold water for another 20 minutes or so and then peel off the shells.
Jackfruit is one of hottest foods of the year and, according to Pinterest’s food trends of 2017, it looks like it’s here to stay. Known for its meaty texture, jackfruit has often been used to replace shredded beef or pork in dishes like tacos and carnitas. However, since it’s actually from a plant, you’re not getting any of the saturated fat or cholesterol that you would from beef or pork. Added bonus: Jackfruit is also packed with protein, vitamins B and C, magnesium, and potassium.
Salty: Cheesy Kale Chips
Tear kale leaves into large pieces and arrange on a baking sheet. Spritz with olive oil and bake in a 350°F oven until crisp. While still warm, sprinkle with a little grated Parmesan cheese. Here are some other delicious low-salt diet snacks to try.
Salty: Tamari-seasoned rice crackers
A salt lover’s best choice for scooping up low-fat tuna salad or another healthy dip; punch them up with a squeeze of chili sauce. (Read the label to make sure you stick to one serving of crackers.
Salty: Mediterranean artichoke hearts
Drain canned artichoke hearts and sprinkle with lemon zest, capers, chopped fresh basil, and olive oil.
Salty: Five-spice pumpkin seeds
istock/© Elena Elisseeva
Toss salted pumpkin seeds with sesame oil and Chinese five-spice powder; bake at 350°F until crisp.
Salty: Buffalo popcorn
Toss air-popped popcorn with olive oil, chili powder, and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.
Whole-wheat pretzels (which boast 4 grams of fiber compared with 1 gram in the regular kind) become irresistible when slathered with spicy mustard (only 5 calories per teaspoon). Add a couple of low-fat cheese cubes to make this snack extra filling.
Crunchy: Chickpea poppers
Drain and rinse canned chickpeas, then dry them with a paper towel. Spritz with extra-virgin olive oil, season with dried oregano and garlic salt, and roast at 400 degrees F until crisp.
Crunchy: Veggie chips with tangy yogurt
Dunk root veggie chips (such as Terra chips) into plain low-fat yogurt seasoned with hot sauce and orange zest.
Crunchy: Cheesy dip
Dunk sugar snap peas into 1/4 cup fat-free ricotta cheese.
Crunchy: Easy salsa
Chop up tomatoes, cucumber, bell peppers, beans, and onions in a mini food processor, then scoop on melba toast.
Crunchy: Tangy pear boats
Fill endive spears with chopped pears and season with a dash of balsamic vinegar. Add 12 almonds for extra crunch and some heart-healthy unsaturated fat.
Crunchy: Veggie yogurt dip
Combine finely chopped broccoli, multicolored bell peppers, and scallions with fat-free Greek yogurt and onion flakes. Use it as a dip for baby carrots.
Sweet: Fruity cottage cheese
Fold chopped ripe nectarines into low-fat cottage cheese, and spoon onto a couple of gingersnaps. (Read the label to make sure you stick to a single serving of gingersnaps.)
Minimalist, yet amazingly delicious: Sprinkle cocoa nibs on canned pears.
Sweet: Sweet yogurt dip
Stir a little diet maple syrup or agave nectar into fat-free Greek yogurt, and dunk slices of apples or pears.
Sweet: Fruit kebabs
Spear the sweetest fruits—strawberries, mango, grapes, and pineapple—with bamboo skewers.
Spread graham crackers with vanilla fat-free Greek yogurt, then top with a handful of banana slices and a sprinkle of ground flaxseed. (Read the label to make sure you stick to one serving of graham crackers.)
Transform a simple grapefruit into something decadent: Halve it; drizzle each half with a little dark honey (use concentrated sweets sparingly), and broil until bubbly.
Creamy: Easy mashed sweet potato
Microwave a small sweet potato, split it open, and mash a little OJ and cinnamon into it. Eat it right out of the jacket.
Mash canned white beans with olive oil and chopped fresh rosemary. Pile onto radicchio or lettuce leaves.
Spread baba ghanoush, crushed avocado, or hummus on a whole-wheat pita or whole-wheat English muffin.
Creamy: Soft-scrambled eggs
It’s the most sublimely simple protein-packed treat.
Creamy: Spicy potatoes
Baby red potatoes become blissfully soft when you microwave them for 3 to 5 minutes (leave the skin on for its nutrients). Sprinkle with pepper and dried seasonings. Add a pat of Greek yogurt for a healthy sour cream replacement.
Creamy: Italian antipasto
Raid the supermarket antipasto bar for some lusciously creamy slow-roasted red peppers. Pat the oil off with a paper towel, and eat with a mini bocconcini or two. Delizioso!