Reminiscing is fun when it comes to food from your childhood, but now that you’re older and wiser, your snacks may need an upgrade. Here’s a list of memorable snacks with a twist that are healthier than snacks from your childhood and easier for you to appreciate now.
Unsalted and Unsweetened Trail Mix
Try trail mix, with unsalted and unsweetened dried fruit, nuts and seeds, is a wildly healthy snack but it is loaded with calories and so a little goes a long way. Look for trail mixes that contain organic ingredients. Chocolate candy in your trail mix is anything but healthy.
Almond Butter and Banana Sandwiches
It may have a cool song to go with it, but the peanut butter and jelly sandwich is not the only nutty-fruity sandwich on the block Go for an almond butter and banana sandwich to keep it ultra healthy. Unlike peanut butter brands that contain trans fats and added sugar, almond butter is usually unadulterated. And then bananas are naturally sweet and flavorful, while most jellies are made with high fructose corn syrup.
Whole Grain Crackers and Real Cheese
Let’s skip the Lunchables and other processed cheese and crackers snacks in favor of the whole grain crackers and real cheese. Go for old-fashioned crackers like Ak-mak crackers, invented in 1893, or graham crackers from 1829, for a super simple source of whole grain with less fat and more fiber. Cheese is a rich food meant to be savored in small amounts. In cheese, the only ingredients should be milk, salt and starter culture. American cheese, regardless of the brand, is processed and not real. The taste and texture is not like cheese and it doesn’t deliver that real cheese thrill.
Homemade Fruit and Yogurt Parfait
Nix the sugary yogurt with “fruit on the bottom” and pile fresh fruit, plain non-fat Greek yogurt, oats and nuts or your favorite granola together for a homemade fruit and yogurt parfait. You’ll avoid added sugar and replace it with more protein, fiber and healthy fats, all of which will keep you feeling full longer.
Jicama Slices and Spicy Guacamole
Skip the chips and salsa. My favorite healthy treat is jicama slices and spicy guacamole. If you’re feeling less adventurous you can sub the jicama for cucumbers. Both add the crunch of tortilla chips, without being fried, at a sizable calorie reduction. For a protein and fiber boost, add black bean dip and you’ve got a new iteration of nachos. The guacamole adds a helping of healthy monounsaturated fat, potassium, vitamins E, K, folic acid, and others. Who knew guac was so healthy?
Turkey sandwiches are overrated. While some of us still call this lunch, turkey rollups are much more adult. Made with sesame sticks, honey mustard and a slice of turkey deli meat, they are a bit leaner on the calories but heavier on the crunch.
Natural Dried Fruit Bars
Years ago Fruit Roll-Ups were a staple in my lunch pail, but now I know better. I mean, the fruit puree part is fine but they lose points for their added corn syrup and hydrogenated oil. Dried fruit bars have the same sweet taste but they are 100% dried fruit. Also called fruit leather, they can be found at Trader Joe’s and other health food stores. Fruit leather is made from all kinds of dried fruits, such as papaya, mango, and pineapple. Look for 100% fruit as their only ingredient. Just be sure not to too many because most people need only 2 or 3 small servings of fruit per day.
Regular pizzas are carbo-licious. That is to say, they are delicious but offer way too many refined carbohydrates in the white crust. Whole grain pita bread is a good alternative to use as pizza dough, and the rest is up to you. You can add caramelized onions or other chopped vegetables with a little marinara on top. Here’s a pita pizza recipe to get you started. Chances are you’ll pass on traditional pizza more often when you master the art of the pita pizzas.
Red Bell Peppers and Hummus
Even healthy snacks could use an update. Carrots and ranch dip can be exchanged for red bell pepper strips and hummus. Hummus comes in a variety of flavors and the red bell peppers have a crisp snap and fresh, slightly sweet taste, as well as a great punch of Vitamin C. Hummus has only half the calories of regular full-fat ranch dip. What’s more, ranch dip adds 3 grams of saturated fat that you can do without without.
Chocolate Pecan Air-Popped Popcorn
Most buttered microwave popcorn is simply not healthy. Whether it’s a 100-calorie pack or not, the preservatives in some microwave popcorn, particularly diacetyl, caused lung problems when inhaled by the workers at the popcorn factory. Instead, go for air-popped popcorn and liven it up with 100% olive oil spray and a dash of raw cacao powder, cinnamon, and a sprinkle of pecans. You might also try adding parmesan cheese, dried cranberries, or brown sugar to taste. You’ll save 3 grams of fat and 97 mg of sodium by substituting one cup of air-popped popcorn for oil-popped corn.
What’s your favorite healthy grown-up snack?