Juggling kids, family and career doesn’t lend itself to sitting down to three square meals or taking time to make healthy snacks every day. You’re often faced with the decision: Eat a bag of chips, or eat nothing at all. Grab and go packages of convenience foods are certainly easy to eat, but with their usual high fat and calorie content they aren’t easy on your waistline. To help you quiet your grumbling tummy on the days your schedule bites into your mealtimes, consider the following healthy snacks you can grab on the go.
Whole grain bagel with nut butter and dried fruit
In the same amount of time it takes you to find a vending machine to get a packaged, process snack, you can have a wholesome mini-meal for fewer grams of fat and calories.
Eat this: Half a whole-grain bagel spread with a tablespoon of peanut or almond butter and sprinkled with your favorite dried fruit. You’ll get a healthy balance of whole grain fiber, protein, good for you fat and a concentrated dose of antioxidants from the fruit.
Not that: Single serving size bag of chips. Even “health food” chips can be deceiving. Peruse the labels and you’ll find most brands are not only high in fat and calories, they are low in fiber and loaded with sodium.
Fruit and yogurt smoothie
Smoothies are a refreshing, easy to drink meal in a cup. However, failing to navigate the many smoothie offerings with a discerning eye can give you a mega serving of calories and sugar.
Eat this: Berry yogurt smoothie. Whether you have the time to quickly blend a smoothie at home before you head out the door or you opt to stop by a smoothie bar, stick with a modest-sized drink made of fresh fruit and low fat yogurt with a shot of wheatgrass or tablespoon of ground flax.
Not that: Peanut butter frozen yogurt protein shake. A heavy combination of peanut butter, protein powder and frozen yogurt is more like an entrée than a snack. Unless you’re using this shake to replace a meal, opt for a lower calorie fruit and yogurt drink. Be sure to also bypass those smoothies made of sweetened fruit and ice cream.
Hard cooked egg and English muffin
Sure, this is a common breakfast dish, but if you skimp on your morning meal, making up for it with a protein-rich snack will keep your hunger at bay and ensure you are energized until your next substantial sit down meal.
Eat this: Hard cooked egg and half a whole grain English muffin. Fittingly considered nature’s perfect protein, a hard cooked egg is easy to tote and, when paired with a complex carbohyrate, delivers a nutritiously balanced snack.
Not that: Jumbo muffin. Typical bakery and vending machine muffins are so large they can feed a small family, though not very healthfully. Laden with sugar, fat, and calories, a jumbo muffin is not only snack overkill, it will leave you uncomfortably full (especially if you also down a latte) and drained of energy by noon.
String cheese and nuts
Cheese sticks and nuts are snacks you can pack in your purse or gym bag without worry of them getting smashed and leaking. Best yet, they offer a satisfying savory flavor and crunch that will stave off in-between meal hunger.
Eat this: Mozzarella or cheddar cheese stick with a small handful of cashews, pistachios or almonds. The cheese will give you a tasty calcium and protein boost while the nuts offer fiber, protein and heart-healthy fats.
Not that: Cheddar cheese sandwich crackers. Though conveniently packaged in individual-serving sizes, this snack is packed with saturated fat, calories and sodium.
As you head out the door, you can quickly spread a small whole grain tortilla with prepared or homemade hummus, roll it up and go.
Eat this: Hummus spread on a small high-fiber tortilla. A simple puree of chickpeas, tahini and olive oil, hummus is a high in protein, fiber and unsaturated fats. Partnered with a whole grain tortilla, you’ve got a delicious balance of nutrition.
Not that: Drive-thru snack wraps. Don’t waste time sitting in the drive-thru for a menu item deemed a snack. Make your own and you’ll save your diet from an overload of calories, saturated and trans fats, and sodium.
You may not be able to control your schedule, but you can control the snacks you consume while on the go. Taking just a few minutes to choose healthier options will keep you from sabotaging your diet and your energy for the rest of the day.