Healthy snacking is a great way to curb hunger while dieting. Making those healthy snacks whole grain will add additional fiber to your diet, help you feel fuller longer and will help regulate your blood-sugar levels throughout the day. Adding a healthy fat or protein source to your whole grain snack will help hold back hunger by slowing down the absorption of the carbohydrates from the whole grain, thereby preventing a "crash" from a sudden drop in blood sugar. Below are four, well-balanced, whole-grain snack ideas.
Although considered a whole grain, popcorn drenched in butter is loaded with calories and saturated fat, and should not be considered a healthy snack. Instead, choose plain, air-popped popcorn and add additional ingredients to your liking. Adding your own seasonings such as salt and pepper, chili powder or cinnamon can add flavor without adding the unhealthy saturated fat found in butter. To make this whole-grain snack even more beneficial, pair a few cups of air-popped popcorn with a handful of nuts or a serving of fat-free cottage cheese to add protein and healthy fats.
Brown Rice Cakes
Brown rice isn't only for dinner; it can also be a healthy, whole-grain snack any time of day. Look for brown-rice cakes whose sole ingredient is brown rice. These are easily portable, and they make an excellent healthy, whole-grain snack when topped with a nut butter like almond or peanut butter, or a spreadable low-fat cheese. With about 35 calories per rice cake, two rice cakes topped with a tablespoon of almond butter make a healthy, whole-grain snack for less than 200 calories.
When choosing crackers for a snack, make sure the nutrition facts panel or ingredients list state that the crackers are "100 percent whole grain" to ensure that you are getting a whole-grain product. Snack foods whose product packaging states that the item is "made with whole grain," often means that the food includes a few whole-grain ingredients and are actually filled with enriched white flour products. To make crackers a healthy, whole-grain snack, look for a brand that has few ingredients and not a lot of added sugar. Adding a few ounces of lean lunch meat, string cheese or nuts makes this a well-rounded, whole-grain snack.
Cereal can be a great on-the-go, whole-grain snack. When choosing a whole-grain cereal, make sure the label or ingredient list states, "100 percent whole grain" and look at how much sugar and fiber each serving contains. Aim for less than 10 grams of sugar and from 3 to 6 grams of fiber per serving. Mix a serving of dry, whole-grain cereal with a few tablespoons of dried fruit and nuts, and put it in a plastic baggie for a homemade healthy snack.