Ready-made store-bought snacks are convenient (and getting healthier all the time) but making your own low-calorie healthy indulgences is easy. Try these delectable mini-meals the next time you get a snack attack. Best yet, always have a few of them handy in your kitchen so you can satisfy your gnawing hunger fast.
Hummus: Puree a can of chickpeas (or another type of bean) with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and seasonings to use as a high-fiber spread on pita chips, baked crackers, or high-fiber tortillas. Hummus also doubles as a satisfying dip for cut vegetables and pretzels. One (15-ounce) can of beans makes about six low-calorie servings.
Artichoke dip: Puree a six-ounce jar of marinated artichoke hearts (drained) with 1/2-cup softened Neufchatel, goat cheese, ricotta, or cottage cheese for a creamy dip for baked chips and cut vegetables -- as well as a spread for a small sandwich or wrap. For a tasty change, substitute green olives for the artichokes. As a dip, this recipe makes four to six snack servings.
Sweet and creamy yogurt with fruit: Swirl fresh berries, banana slices or crushed pineapple with a single serving of your favorite low-fat yogurt to naturally satisfy a sweet tooth. The protein from the yogurt and the fiber from the fruit will keep you full and give you a long-lasting energy boost. Change it up by substituting low-fat cottage cheese for the yogurt.
Nut butters and fruit: Almond butter, cashew butter, and peanut butter are a mouthwatering match for sliced apples, sliced bananas, and halved grapes. Warm nut butters slightly in the microwave and drizzle on sliced fruit for a creamy addition to a naturally sweet snack. One tablespoon of nut butter has about 100 calories.
Go nuts: Nuts are the quintessential crunchy snack solution for both savory and sweet cravings. For savory yens, add chopped nuts to flavorful dips, vegetable salads, and small servings of chicken or tuna salads. Have a sweet tooth? Sprinkle snack-sized yogurts and puddings with a couple tablespoons of chopped nuts for a creamy and crunchy sweet treat.
Gourmet popcorn: Popcorn is naturally nutritious but if plain air-popped popcorn reminds you of Styrofoam peanuts, give it a gourmet twist by drizzling it with a little olive oil, truffle oil, or herb-infused oil and toss with dried herbs and spices. For a sweet tooth, spray popcorn with butter-flavored cooking spray and toss with cocoa mix and ground cinnamon. One cup of plain popcorn is around 50 calories.
Baked chips: Cut high-fiber tortillas into wedges and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle with seasonings and bake in the oven at 375 degrees F. or until toasted and crisp. Pair chips with a low-fat creamy dip or salsa. A snack serving is one tortilla, which equals about eight chips.
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