11 Healthy Grab-and-Go Snacks
As much as I love tips on how to make a healthy snack, the reality is that many of us don't have the time to make all of our snacks and portion them out in advance on a weekly or daily basis. I'm not suggesting you stop cooking at home — and of course I love the idea of homemade anything — but it is possible to find healthy pre-made snacks from your local supermarket.
Here are 11 of my current favorite grab-and-go healthy snacks to fuel your day:
1. Greek and Icelandic Yogurt (Skyr)
Plain Greek yogurt mixed with some delicious fresh fruit contains less than half the amount of sugar you'll find in flavored yogurts and contains twice the amount of fiber. One major benefit, Greek yogurt is packed with protein, and probiotics to aid your digestive system - making it a great superfood snack! If you want a more indulgent option, you can always try Icelandic yogurt (Skyr), which is a bit on the creamier side and has almost as much protein as Greek yogurt. My Pick: Dannon Activia Greek at only 80 calories a serving.
2. Nuts (Not Trail Mix)
A half-cup of mixed nuts is packed with fiber and protein. This makes it the ideal grab-and-go snack. You may want to opt for unsalted nuts to avoid the extra sodium. My Pick: Planters Nut-rition. Planter's Nuts have been around for 100 years, but they're always in style because their nuts are so healthy. I love their on-the-go single serve packs!
3. Healthy Energy Bars
I'm really picky when it comes to pre-packaged bars, shakes and smoothies, but KIND has succeeded in seducing me! First off, they taste too good to be healthy. But here's the KIND truth: They are THAT good for you! Jam-packed with wholesome ingredients, no refined sugar and the right combination of natural protein, carbs and healthy fats so you won't get hungry or snack on junk afterward. My Picks: KIND Maple Glazed Pecan and Sea Salt Bar and KIND Healthy Grains Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate bar.
4. Light Cheese
Light string cheese or mini cheese wedges are packed with calcium and can be creamy and satisfying. I often pair them with half a serving of whole grain crackers or a pear to stave off hunger. My Pick: Laughing Cow Mini Babybel Light, at only 50 calories, 6g protein, 20 percent of you daily recommended intake of calcium. Plus, they are so darn cute and easy to carry around.
4. Fruit Pita
Simply take your favorite fresh fruit and wrap it into half a whole-wheat pita with some cottage cheese. Voila! A low calorie and nutritious snack that's ready to go when you are. My Picks: Friendship's 1% No Sodium Added Cottage Cheese - only 90 calories per ½ cup and 16 grams of protein. I like this brand because it doesn't have a high sodium content and has a dense non-watery texture! Smart Slims Whole Wheat Pita. Half the stuffed pita is only 50 calories and you get so much yum for your calorie buck, not to mention healthy whole grains, and fiber.
5. Delivery Snacks
This is actually one of my favorite finds; it's the ultimate in convenience, taste and variety. You can subscribe to have a healthy box of snacks delivered to your home or office every month. Pick from an array of snacks or let them pick for you. You can specify any preferences, food restrictions and allergies and they come in a fun and cute surprise box. My Pick: Nature Box, which has literally created a new way of life for healthy snackers.
6. Beef or Turkey Jerky
This is one of my favorites when it comes to healthy on-the-go snacking. You just need to be careful to avoid sodium- and sugar-filled brands. However, there are a few low-sodium, natural, or lightly-flavored options that are rich with key vitamins, minerals and protein, low in calories and ultra tasty and filling. Plus this chewy snack is super-portable and keeps fresh for months when packed properly. My Pick: Field Trip All Natural Beef Jerky. I actually travel with it in my carry-on bag.
7. Chips and Salsa
You can opt for 15 baked tortilla chips (about 1 ounce) with 1/4 cup fresh or pre-made salsa or you can maintain the crunch and salty dipping idea but have more per serving with popchips. These thin and crispy, light popped crunchies are perfect for the chip lover who thrives on crunch but doesn’t want to rack up a lot of fat or calories per serving. My Picks: Popchips Sea Salt and Green Mountain Gringo Salsa.
8. Hard-Boiled Egg
This snack is so inexpensive and loaded with nutrients. Eggs are one of the best ways to get a healthy dose of protein and nutrients. But be sure to eat the whole egg - the yolk carries much of the nutrients. I am known to keep a hard-boiled egg in my purse (I kid you not!) because it's one of my little secrets to staying fueled and lean. My Picks: Homemade- Try hard boiling and pre-peeling a dozen at the start of the week and throw one in a small Tupperware container each day for an easy on-the-go snack. Or, you can literally get them everywhere, from 7-Eleven to Starbucks. It truly is a snack that is easier to find that you think, I know I have often been on road trips or in airports and needing "something" to snack on or give my salad more substance.
9. Nut Butter Treats
Try Nut Butter-sicles. Your choice of nut butter, just got better and so easy. Simply freeze 1/4 cup of your choice of nut better with 3/4 cup of your favorite type of milk. My Picks: I love Nutella (I am a chocolate lover after all) and I like also Barney almond butter. Stir in a little mashed banana to make it a NutButter-Banana-Sicle.
10. Fiber Bars
This is a great substitute for a candy bar! It's not just the digestive system that can thank fiber for proper functioning; the heart benefits too! Another benefit is that fiber bars don't have the funny taste or high calorie content of many protein and nutrition bars. My Picks: Fiber One Oats and Peanut Butter OR Oats and Chocolate Bar. These bars are packed with fiber, and also satisfy a peanut butter craving or chocolate chip craving!
There are so many great grab-and-go size single serving popcorn varieties now - what I love is the quantity and fiber you can pack without throwing away your daily intake! My Pick: Skinny Pop - once you try it, you'll be addicted. What do they do to their popcorn? I will pay way too much for a bag - simply because the taste cannot be matched!
Readers - Which fast and healthy snacks are your favorites? Do you prefer homemade snacks or store-bought snacks? Leave a comment below and let us know about your favorite snacks.
Amanda Russell is a top-rated fitness and lifestyle writer, professional keynote speaker, Olympic-trained athlete, model, spokeswoman, founder of FitStrongandSexy.com and one of the industry's leading experts in fitness, wellness and change. Amanda has her own professional online workout channel and talk show. She can be found writing about life, fitness, wellness and change on her website: www.amanda-russell.com. To watch Amanda’s show, visit AmandaRussell.TV. She was recently named as one of Google's "Next Top Fitness Trainer's in 2012."