In this world, there are three kinds of people: People who graze mindlessly between meals, people who snack to stave off hunger and people who don’t snack at all (for the record, we don’t know these people).
Whatever kind of snacker you are, it’s easy to start a habit without even realizing it. Your hand digs around in the candy bowl at work when you just went to fill up your water bottle, or you open your refrigerator every time you walk through your house like a nervous tick. Sometimes when I need a break from the computer screen I find myself taste-testing cheeses in my kitchen, because what else am I going to use as an excuse to stop typing?
I stand by the idea that there’s no such thing as a “bad” snack. But if your snack situation is starting to make you sluggish instead of sunny, there are plenty of simple changes you can make that will get your snack habit back on track.
The craving: Chocolate candy bar
The swap: Dark-ish chocolate with sections
Nobody here is trying to keep you from your chocolate. It’s delicious, it might be good for you heart and life is short, so we may as well enjoy it. But if you find yourself hitting a daily chocolate wall, gorging on your office’s supply of candies and then feeling ultimately worse for the ware, it might be worth trying something new.
Dark chocolate is still, you know, chocolate, but with more cocoa and without as much milk and less than half the amount of sugar in milk chocolate (24 grams versus 50 grams of sugar in a 100 gram bar, according to the USDA). Better yet, it’s often served in small, bite sized pieces — giving you more opportunity to figure out whether you’ve had enough and you’re just eating to finish what you started. If you prefer your chocolate to have pizzazz, there are plenty of companies that pair their dark chocolate with mint, nuts and even caramel.
The craving: A milkshake
The swap: Bolthouse Farms Lower Sugar Strawberry Banana Beverage
On a warm day, a cool, sweet drink is hard to beat. But milkshakes can leave us feeling weighed down, and since it’s pretty much ice cream and milk, they don’t offer much in the way of nutrient benefit. Not to mention, cleaning the blender is… the worst.
That’s why a smoothie drink — like the Bolthouse Farms® Lower Sugar Strawberry Banana Beverage — can be just as satisfying as a shake. This offering from Bolthouse Farms contains all your recommended dietary allowance of vitamin C, 3 grams of fiber and 50 percent less sugar than the leading 100 percent juice smoothie.
The craving: Cheese and crackers
The swap: Cottage cheese and cucumber
Cheese and crackers are one of those timeless combinations. The two foods were practically made for each other. But if the craving is just that — a craving — and you don’t want to get too full before lunch or dinner, a swap can be smart.
Enter the humble cottage cheese and cucumber. Cucumber provides a similar crunch to a cracker, though way more refreshing, and cottage cheese is packed with protein (4 ounces packs nearly 13 grams of protein, according to the USDA). You can get fancy and serve yourself the cottage cheese on individual cucumber slices, rolled up in the cucumber (as pictured above) or give yourself a serving of cottage cheese and sprinkle the cucumber chunks on top. And mixing herbs into the cottage cheese can help add some extra dimension to the snack. Treat yourself indeed.
The craving: Jelly beans and other fruity candy
The swap: Fruit bowl
Are the kinda-sweet, kinda-tart fruit candies the first thing you reach for when the afternoon gets slow? As delicious as they are, they don’t offer much of an afternoon pick me up beyond pure sugar. The most popular brand has 30 grams of added sugar in a single serving — more added sugar than the American Heart Association recommends for women in an entire day.
An easy fix? Fruit. You can get the same sweet-and-tangy flavor by having a cup of pineapple, mango, or pomegranate nearby. Bananas are easy to grab, and certain apple types — like Honeycrisp or Granny Smith — can give you the tang you’re craving. A medium banana has about 8 percent of your daily vitamin A as well as a healthy helping of magnesium and potassium, per the USDA. And apples contain 17 percent of your daily fiber, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
The craving: Potato chips
The swap: Popcorn
Potato chips are so easily accessible, and so salty good. But they rarely make you feel full, it’s hard to have only as much as you actually want, and you end up ingesting a lot of salt and fat in the process — a small bag of chips can have 14 grams of fat (as much as 30 percent of your RDA) and upwards of 220 mg of sodium — about 10 percent of what we should be eating in a day, according to the USDA.
That’s why popcorn can make such a good swap. One cup of homemade, oil-popped popcorn has just 2 grams of fat, and you can control how much salt you prefer on your own. Whether you’re making it at home and topping it with a little parmesan (delicious) or buying an already-popped bag to take to work (opt for varieties that aren’t covered in butter), it can give you the same crunchy satisfaction as chips without all the stuff you don’t need. For some added flare, add one of these DIY popcorn seasonings to your homemade batch. Graze on, snack friend.
The craving: Pizza
The swap: English muffin pizzas
Admittedly, if you were stranded on a deserted island and could only bring one thing, we’d definitely be OK with a daily pizza habit. But back in reality, those leftovers in your fridge aren’t exactly snack-sized. And consider that a medium slice has about 16 grams of fat and 799 mg of salt (about 34 percent of what you need in a day — yikes!).
When you can’t kick the craving, try topping an English muffin with a bit of marinara sauce — or even just a slice of tomato — and some mozzarella and popping it in a toaster oven for a few minutes. It’s still tasty, but won’t leave you clutching your gut quite like a giant New York slice.
The craving: PB&J
The swap: Apples and peanut butter
Nobody’s judging your PB&J habit. It’s just that the sandwich — tasty as it might be — is usually a bit more food than a snack warrants. (If you’re calling it lunch, do as you please!)
If that flavor combination is a siren song for your tastebuds, may we direct your attention instead to apple slices with peanut butter. As we mentioned before, apples are full of fiber, something most of us could use more of, and you still get the filling benefits of peanut butter — two tablespoons has 7 grams of protein and 15 grams of fat — so you can make it through to your next meal.
You can even mix a bit of fruit preserve in with the peanut butter if you’e feeling fancy. Not in the mood for an apple? Celery works pretty well as a vehicle for peanut butter, too.
This post was created by SheKnows for Bolthouse Farms.