It’s hard to get through a whole day of work without getting a little hungry now and then. That’s OK, snacking can actually be good for you as long as you choose healthy foods in the right proportions. Here is a list of tasty snacks that are perfect for work breaks; most of them require a refrigerator or a microwave, but a few can be stashed in your desk drawer for easy midday nibbling.
1. Hummus and Carrots
Hummus is made from chickpeas and sesame oil, so it’s high in protein and contains healthy fat and fiber. Carrots are high in vitamin A and potassium, so this is a very balanced and satisfying snack. As far as calories, one-half cup of hummus has about 200 calories, and eight baby carrots have only about 30 calories.
Hummus is also good with baked pita chips or pieces of pita bread. Or try other fresh veggies like celery, broccoli, or cauliflower.
2. Apples and Peanut Butter
This snack is similar to fruit and nuts, but sometimes it’s just more fun to slather a little peanut butter onto fresh apple slices. I love apples because they’re high in fiber, plus there are so many varieties that it’s hard not to find some kind of apple you’ll like. And go for natural peanut butter that doesn’t have any added sugar — it really doesn’t need it.
Almond butter is also amazing when you add it to your favorite fresh fruit. Or try cashew butter for a change.
3. Yogurt and Fruit
Yogurt is one of those foods that can be an excellent addition to your diet, but it can be turned into something not so good if it’s loaded with sugary mix-ins. I like plain Greek yogurt with fresh fruit / berries – make sure you just grab a single serving package. Lots of calcium, protein, all for about 150 calories.
4 Rice Cakes
A plain rice cake is low in calories and relatively bland, so it makes a nice base for most any type of topping. You can stash the rice cakes in your desk drawer and bring something tasty like an egg salad sandwich filling. Two rice cakes topped with a quarter cup (or so) of egg salad have about 8 grams of protein and plenty of zinc, selenium, and magnesium, and is only about 260 calories.
Other tasty topping ideas include plain yogurt with honey and berries, sliced avocados with a sprinkle of lime juice, or simple cottage cheese accompanied by fresh veggies.
5. Crispbread and Cottage Cheese
Crispbreads are flat, dry cracker-like bread usually made with rye flour, but are available in whole wheat and multigrain versions. They’re nice and crunchy, and while they’re tasty all by themselves, they’re even better topped with delicious, healthy toppings. I like cottage cheese because it’s high in calcium and protein, with some chives. Three pieces of crispbread, each topped with two tablespoons of low-fat cottage cheese, has a total of 170 calories. The chives are optional, but they add such a nice flavor. You can also top crispbread with nut butter, fruit preserves, or slices of lean meat.
Popcorn counts as a whole grain because it’s high in fiber. It’s also low in calories as long as you don’t cover it with melted butter. Keep a few bags of microwave popcorn handy for a quick, healthy snack; one regular sized bag has less than 300 calories. You can also buy single serving sizes.
If plain popcorn sounds boring, sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on top. Or maybe a few dashes of Tabasco sauce.
7. Fresh Fruit and Nuts
Sometimes the best snacks are the simplest ones, and I just love a piece of fresh fruit and a handful of nuts. There’s just nothing unhealthy about this snack. In fact, a pear with a dozen almonds combine for less than 200 calories, and you’ll get plenty of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and healthy fats.
I also like to match apples with walnuts or bananas with pecans. They’re all so delicious and good for you.
8. Tuna and Crackers
Grab some whole wheat crackers, slice up a stalk of celery, and pick up some canned tuna. This snack is high in fiber, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids that your body needs every day. Six crackers and 3 ounces of tuna have about 200 calories total.
If you prefer, you could make a little tuna salad at home and bring just enough to dab on a few crackers.
9. Fresh Veggies
Bring carrots,, cucumber, or celery sticks and veggie dip to work for a light and healthy snack. The vegetables are low in calories but high in fiber, plus they’re loaded with vitamins and minerals.
10. Cup of Soup
A cup of soup can be so warm and soothing on a cold day. Leftover soup can make a great snack for work the next day, or you can buy single serving microwavable soups. Vegetable soup is perfect because it’s got lots of great nutrition (and tastes great, too), but my favorite is chicken noodle, with plenty of carrots, celery, and onions.
Calorie counts vary considerably, so look closely at the labels for nutrition information. Also, note that many commercial varieties are also high in fat and sodium.