Katie’s Healthy Bites: My Smarter Snack Picks

Some people think too much snacking can lead to weight gain, but the key is nibbling on the right things in the right amounts. Here are a few of my favorite choices.

One thing I look forward to every day is my snacks. Some people think too much snacking can lead to weight gain, but the key is nibbling on the right things in the right amounts. Choose wisely and these daily treats can be beneficial, too.

Creating healthy snacking habits gives structure to your daily eating regimen — plus, these foods can add some important nutrients you might not get from your other meals. Better still, a healthy snack provides extra energy to get you through your busy day and it may curb your appetite, which keeps you from overdoing it at lunch or dinner.

So what do I eat? My snacks usually consist of about 1 serving of carbohydrate (about 15 grams), an ounce or so of protein and some fiber so it's balanced. Carbohydrates offer the energy, while the protein and fiber help keep me feeling full because they take longer to digest.

Here are a few of my favorite snacks -- all for under 200 calories:
  • 1/4 cup of trail mix: My combo is unsalted, roasted almonds or cashews with unsweetened, dried fruit like cranberries. This snack is packed with heart-healthy fats and antioxidants and super easy to pack when you're on the go.
  • 1/4 cup of hummus or white bean dip: Pair it with a cup of cut-up, raw veggies like carrots, cucumbers and peppers. With the beans and veggies, you get fiber galore, so drink a big glass of water along with it.
  • A piece of fruit and some cheese: Try an apple with a wedge or two of Laughing Cow, a light string cheese or a Bonne Bell light cheese.
  • 1/2 cup of edamame: Did you know that 1/2 a cup of shelled edamame has about as much protein as 2 eggs? And no cholesterol worries!
  • An apple, whole grain crackers or a slice of wheat bread with 1 tablespoon of natural peanut or almond butter: This combo can help curb strongest cravings. (To make your own: Add your favorite dry-roasted nuts to your food processor and let it run for about 2 minutes. Add a little water to get to your desired consistency, but I like mine as is. A pinch of sea salt, and it’s ready to go!)
  • Low-fat or fat-free Greek yogurt: So creamy and fresh it can seem like a guilty decadence. The yogurt packs a good amount of protein and calcium to boot.
  • Kashi granola bars: Traditional granola bars are mostly carbohydrates, but Kashi adds some soy protein to their to make them more balanced and, again, easy to grab on the run.
  • A fruit smoothie: I stick to 6 to 8 ounces and mix in low-fat yogurt, tofu and colorful fruits, especially whatever is in season.
  • 8-ounce glass of milk: This sounds simple but one serving provides carbohydrates, protein, calcium for your bones and is easy to guzzle down when you don’t have a lot of time.

Katie Cavuto Boyle, MS, RD, owns HealthyBites, LLC and competed on Season 5 of The Next Food Network Star.

[Photo courtesy of enzo & lulu / Flickr]
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