It’s inevitable — sometime during the day, either between breakfast and lunch or lunch and dinner, you’re going to get snack-y. And if you’re at the office or out and about, you could be tempted by a not-so-healthy option (caramel macchiato or candy bar, anyone?) With a little planning, you can avoid diet-derailing visits to the vending machine or office candy bowl. These 9 snacks are easy to pack and satisfy your craving for something salty, sweet or crunchy.
Cheesy popcorn (155 calories): Forget that white cheddar popcorn stuff and make your own cheesy popcorn. Toss 3 cups of air-popped popcorn with 1 T. grated parmesan and 1 t. of olive oil.
Mini pita sandwich (200 calories): The most satisfying snacks are usually just mini meals. Which is why a mini pita sandwich—or half a regular sandwich—can really hit the spot. Just stuff a mini whole wheat pita with your favorite fillings: think vegetables and some protein (tuna salad, hummus, hard boiled eggs or chicken).
Spinach and Canellini Bean Dip (175 calories): Pack a portion of Giada’s yummy dip with a few baked pita chips or endive spears for healthy treat.
Dried pineapple rings (105 calories): Chewy, sweet-tart dried pineapple rings are like nature’s natural fruit leather. Look for the kind with no added sugar—5 rings is a serving.
Nutty dates (160 calories): Take the pits out of 2 medjool dates and stuff with walnut halves for a buttery sweet treat. For a salty note, try a little bit of blue cheese in place of (or addition to) the walnuts.
Ricotta with fresh sliced peaches (250 calories): Look for a good-quality part-skim ricotta and pair ½ cup with a sliced fresh peach or half-cup of berries. Sweeten it up with a drizzle of honey or maple syrup.
Jicama with lime and chili powder (50 calories): Just sprinkle lime juice and chili powder over one cup of sliced jicama sticks for a flavorful snack inspired by Mexican street food.
Celery boats (100 calories): Celery is virtually calorie free, but delivers that satisfying crunch. Fill two stalks of celery with 2 T. of Neufchatel (reduced-fat cream cheese) and top with 1 T. of raisins for an easy-to-pack snack.
Trail mix (200 calories): Make a trail mix that’s crunchier and a little less calorie-dense by adding your favorite cereal—Cheerios and Chex work well. Half a cup of cereal, plus a couple tablespoons each of raisins and peanuts will give you a snack with staying power.
Kerri-Ann Jennings, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian who thinks you don’t have to compromise good taste to achieve good health. A former associate nutrition editor of EatingWell Magazine, Kerri-Ann now freelance writes about food, nutrition and health trends and her work has been published on FoodNetwork.com, Yahoo! Shine and the Huffington Post, among others. She also puts her masters degree in nutrition from Columbia University to use teaching classes and counseling individuals on adding healthy behaviors to their daily lives. Find more of her work at kerriannjennings.com or follow her on Twitter @kerriannrd or Facebook.