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Five Powerful Snack Foods You’ll Actually Want to Eat

It’s easy to say “have a celery stick or two to stave off hunger”, but most of us want a snack that will make us satisfied enough to keep us from reaching for the potato chips later on. And, while there are no “magic bullet” foods that will actually trigger your body to burn fat, there are ingredients that can help your metabolic system operate at optimal efficiency. As a general rule, your snacks should be high in protein or fiber, low in sugar and salt, and under 200 calories. Here are five easy ideas that fit the bill, if you watch your portions:

Hummus + Veggies. This Middle-Eastern snack superhero is easy enough to pick up at the local supermarket, but SO much healthier to make at home. Many store brands contain sugar, sodium and other unnecessary ingredients, so why not make your own? It’s as easy as taking one can of chickpeas, a tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil—then adding sea salt, lemon, garlic and cumin to taste. Use carrots and red peppers to dip for a healthy snack that’s a good source of protein, fiber and iron.

Gazpacho. Though recipes vary, most versions of this zesty Spanish soup contain tomatoes and red peppers—both great sources of the antioxidant lycopene as well as carotenids, which are essential for maintaining eye health. If you’re using canned tomato juice and peppers, choose low sodium; you’ll find that even without the extra salt, the soup’s bright Mediterranean spices make it tangy and satisfying, so a little goes a long way toward satisfying mid-afternoon hunger.

Avocado Boats. Did you know: just half an avocado has seven grams of fiber, 15 grams of heart-healthy unsaturated fat, and just two grams of saturated fat? Its shape also makes a natural snack dish, thanks to that oversized pit—simply fill the divot with a tablespoon of salsa or a generous dollop of low-fat cottage cheese for an easy, snack with virtually no clean-up. To save the pitted half for another day, sprinkle with lemon or lime juice, cover with cling wrap and refrigerate.

Greek Yogurt. Here’s a frightening fact: though they may be low- or even non-fat, many popular yogurts contain more sugar than a soda! The next time you’re craving something creamy, try unsweetened Greek yogurt. If it’s sweet and creamy you’re after, use a natural sweetener like stevia (bonus: it’s calorie-free!) or agave syrup, which is similar to honey but is lower on the glycemic index, so it won’t cause a blood sugar spike. Toss a few blueberries on top for extra antioxidants.

Fruit + Flair. A small piece of fruit is always a healthy snack option—but isn’t everything a bit more fun when you add flair? Try pairing your next apple with a tablespoon of almond butter for a satisfying salty-sweet snack with both fiber and protein. Another great marriage: warm pear with low-fat ricotta cheese. Simply halve the pear, pop it in the oven for 15 minutes and top with ricotta and cinnamon; the rich topping makes this healthy treat feel as decadent as dessert.

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