Keep snacktime interesting
If a piece of fruit or handful of nuts has you yawning at snacktime, consider out-of-the-ordinary options. Though it's easy to reach for junk food when even the thought of another container of yogurt is a bore, you can give your snacktime culinary intrigue by being creative and using your cravings as a launchpad for healthy, interesting snacks.
Apple Pita Pizza
If a slice of apple pie is calling your name, avert the temptation with an apple pita pizza. A healthier alternative to a sugar-, fat- and calorie-laden dessert, this slimmed-down treat will satisfy your sweet tooth while healthfully refueling your tank.
Quick fix: Lightly saute half an apple with a little butter, a sprinkling of brown sugar and a dash of cinnamon. Arrange on a small, toasted whole-grain pita and sprinkle with a bit of cheddar cheese. Place under the broiler until the cheese gets bubbly. Cut in half and enjoy.
Traditionally a high-fat dessert composed of ice cream, whipped cream, sweet syrups and fruit, parfaits can be revamped into a super-healthy snack. Layering high-antioxidant fruit with rich and creamy Greek yogurt and crushed cereal turns a once diet-deadly indulgence into a healthy snack.
Quick fix: In a short, clear glass, layer a mix of blueberries, blackberries and diced mango with spoonfuls of nonfat Greek yogurt and crushed whole-grain cereal. Mix up the fruit, depending on the season, and try different flavors of yogurt for a tasty change.
Hard-Cooked Egg and Tomato
Packed with protein, a hard-boiled egg is a convenient, nutritious snack by itself. It can seem dull, though, without a colorful or flavorful accompaniment. Pairing an egg with a juicy, ripe tomato and honey mustard dressing makes for an out-of-the-ordinary savory nibble.
Quick fix: Slice a hard-cooked egg crosswise into five thick slices. Cut five slices into a tomato without slicing all the way through to the bottom, leaving the tomato essentially intact. Place an egg slice into each cut in the tomato. Drizzle with a low-fat honey mustard dressing.
Pumpkin Coconut Smoothie
Considered a superior fruit (yes, pumpkins are fruit), pureed pumpkin is packed with the antioxidant beta-carotene and other powerful phytonutrients while being lusciously low in calories (about 40 per cup). Pureed into a smoothie with coconut and vanilla soymilk, this super squash becomes a lavishly sweet treat.
Quick fix: In a blender or food processor, puree 3/4 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree (canned or fresh), 1/4 cup vanilla soymilk, 2 tablespoons toasted coconut flakes, and 1 tablespoon agave nectar. For extra flavor, add a dash of ground cinnamon and a drizzle of sugar-free coconut syrup, or subsitute chocolate soymilk for vanilla soymilk. To thicken, add a handful of ice cubes before blending.
Red-Bean Hummus with Baked Whole-Grain Pita Chips
Full of fiber, protein and naturally sweet flavor, kidney beans make a unique and healthy hummus. Partnered with baked pita chips, this snack is a nutritious change from the usual chips and dip. Instead of offering a high-fat, high-calorie nosh that leaves you hungry for more, hummus and baked whole-grain chips deliver the same great texture along with fiber and protein, which will keep your hunger at bay.
Quick fix: In a food processor, puree 1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans (rinsed and drained) with a squeeze of lemon juice, pinch of garlic salt and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. Cut a whole-grain pita or two into wedges, spray with nonstick cooking spray, and bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven until crisp. A snack serving is 1/4 cup hummus with half a pita.
Roasted Asparagus with Yogurt Dip
Lightly salted crisp-tender asparagus spears paired with a tangy herbed yogurt dip is a tasty between-meal snack that tantalizes your tastebuds for a fraction of the calories in typical snack foods. Eight asparagus spears ring in at under 30 calories, yet deliver 3 grams of fiber. Unlike mayonnaise, yogurt and other dairy products, yogurt is associated with healthy weight maintenance.
Quick fix: Spray 6 to 8 asparagus spears with olive oil and toss with salt and black pepper. Roast on a baking sheet in a preheated 400 degree F oven until tender. In a mini food processor, puree 1 cup plain yogurt, 2 tablespoons chopped mint and a generous squeeze of lime juice.
Tropical Pineapple Pudding
Decadent in taste, yet easy on the waistline, this island-inspired treat features fresh pineapple flavor and a dreamy, creamy texture. Pineapple is packed with vitamins and minerals, but you can substitute any fresh 100 percent juice.
Quick fix: Whisk 1/4 cup pineapple juice and 1/4 cup cornstarch in a bowl. Bring 4 cups of 100 percent pineapple juice and 3 tablespoons honey to a boil in a large saucepan, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to a simmer and stir in cornstarch mixture. Cook, stirring occasionally, until pudding coats the back of a spoon. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and divide into six ramekins. Refrigerate until chilled. Garnish with fresh diced pineapple and a sprinkling of minced macadamia nuts.