Love sneaking a handful of nuts in between meals or a square or two of chocolate before dinner? Practically all American adults snack, thinking that a bite or two here and there is harmless. But those random bites can definitely add up.
In fact, snacking may contribute to about a quarter of your total daily calorie intake — which is about the equivalent of a fourth meal, according to the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT).
Let's face it: Snacks do not always fall into a "healthy" category, especially if your go-to picks are salty chips and candy. Plus, we know that packaged snacks with super long ingredient lists aren't the best for us, but most of us don't have the free time to hand bake the healthiest snacks ourselves. Instead of reaching for the packaged stuff, try these three-ingredient snacks that are delicious and super easy to make. And you'll know exactly what's on the ingredient list because there are only three!
Read more: 19 Easy 100-Calorie Snacks That Satisfy
Healthy Snacks With Only 3 Ingredients
Try our 13 simple, crave-worthy, produce-packed snacks below. Each is made with just three wholesome ingredients and can be fixed in five minutes flat!
1. Popcorn Snack Mix
Popcorn is a healthy whole grain, but drowning it with butter or choosing the caramel-coated kind won't do your body any favors. Why not find a happy medium? Choose popcorn that's popped in healthy oil and make it the star of a snack mix.
Toss together a rounded cup of lightly salted popcorn with dark chocolate chips and nutrient-rich pistachios. Both chocolate and pistachios provide health-promoting polyphenols that boast antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, according to a March 2017 study in Nutrients. Now that's a snack with benefits!
Get the Popcorn Snack Mix recipe and nutrition info here.
2. Mediterranean Parfait
A parfait doesn't need to be sweet. Try a savory parfait for a scrumptious, colorful and easy-to-make alternative to your usual fruit-and-granola cup. Simply layer hummus with colorful cherry or grape tomato slices in a juice or martini glass. Enjoy scooping it up with whole-grain pita chips, fresh pita wedges or low-carb cucumber slices.
In fact, a December 2016 study published in Nutrients found that people who eat chickpeas — the main component of hummus — tend to have higher intakes of fiber, polyunsaturated fat, vitamins A, C, and E as well as the minerals iron, folate, potassium and magnesium than folks who don't eat it.
3. No-Waste Fruit Smoothie
Roughly 30 to 40 percent of edible food in North America is wasted or lost, according to a United Nations Environment report. Not only does food waste have a negative impact on our planet, but it's also a waste of our money. So, when you've got sad-looking fruit, like mushy mango or peaches, a brown banana or almost overripe strawberries, just blend together equal amounts of the fruit and plain, low-fat Greek yogurt (hello, probiotics!) with a few ice cubes. You'll get all the health benefits from fruit in the form of a refreshing smoothie.
Read more: 10 Irresistible Weight-Loss Smoothie Recipes
4. Raspberry Cheese (Rice)Cake
Turn a boring and bland rice cake into a dessert-inspired treat. First, you'll start with a brown rice cake for whole-grain goodness and a bit of fiber. Then, spread a tablespoon each of raspberry preserves and soft goat cheese or plain cashew cream cheese for a vegan alternative to kick that cheesecake craving to the curb.
5. Mini Pear Pizzas
No dough required! Pear slices can cleverly act as mini "pizza" crusts. Plus, they're an excellent source of fiber, with one medium pear boasting nearly six grams of fiber to keep you satiated. Just slice pears lengthwise, remove any seeds and pat the slices dry. Then, spread with soft cashew cheese (ideally scallion or herb-garlic flavor) and drizzle with a balsamic reduction. To make the slightly-thickened reduction, simply cook a couple of tablespoons of balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat for a few minutes or until it's reduced to about one tablespoon.
6. Caprese Snack Skewers
Although it's truly Italian, the Caprese salad is standard fare on menus across America. The key to making the perfect Caprese is to use fresh, high-quality ingredients, which include tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil, and usually a sprinkling of extra-virgin olive oil and salt. To transform it into a personal-sized snack, insert about six cherry tomatoes, six fresh basil leaves and six marinated ciliegine (mini mozzarella balls) onto bamboo skewers in an alternating fashion. If you can't find ciliegine, cubed mozzarella works fine, too. Consider this a tasty way to help get bone-friendly calcium on a stick!
Get the Caprese Snack Skewers recipe and nutrition info here.
7. Apple Deli Sandwich
An apple a day may help keep cancer away, a January 2017 study published in the Journal of Food and Drug Analysis found. So why not make fresh apple slices the "bread" of choice in a finger-sized sandwich snack? First, core an apple and slice it into rounds. Then, between each two-slice pairing, add a protein-rich sandwich filling such as a half-ounce each of organic applewood-smoked deli turkey and sharp cheddar. No mayo or mustard needed!
8. Bagel Cucumber Toast
While bagels are notoriously big and carb-heavy, you can have your bagel fix by sticking to just half. So, toast half of a whole-grain everything bagel and lightly spread it with Neufchâtel (that's a naturally light cream cheese), cashew cream cheese or hummus if you're following a plant-based diet. Then, generously arrange extra-thinly sliced English cucumber slices on top in an overlapping fashion. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines advise a shift towards getting more veggies, including at snack-time — and this snack offers a delicious way to do just that.
9. Vegetarian Chili Potato
The classic chili-potato combination gets a new life as a warm and comforting snack. To make it, bake a medium-sized potato, which can be done in five minutes or less in the microwave. Halve the potato and top with your favorite vegetarian chili and a few dollops of organic, low-fat sour cream, plain Greek yogurt or quark. And don't forget to eat the potato skin; it's loaded with health-promoting antioxidants, a February 2017 study in the Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology found.
Get the Vegetarian Chili Potato recipe and nutrition info here.
10. Cocoa Plant Protein Power Balls
No-bake energy balls are popular go-to snacks. One tasty way to make these pop-in-your-mouth bites is to toss lightly salted shelled pistachios with pitted dried dates and unsweetened cocoa powder into a food processor, and then blend until a crumbly paste forms. For a tasty ratio, aim for about three times as much dates by weight as pistachios. So, try a half-cup of pistachios (2.5 ounces), 1 cup well-packed dates (7.5 ounces), and a couple of tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder. Form into balls by firmly squeezing and rolling by hand. They've got a punch of plant protein thanks to the pistachios and some fiber from the dates. Stash these in your fridge for an anytime snack, including after a workout.
11. Make-Ahead Banana, Yogurt and Cacao Jar
Snacks in jars are smart — you can make them in advance and stash them for whenever cravings strike. Try this: In a one-cup jar, layer plain Greek yogurt, sliced fresh banana and cacao nibs. Make it tonight, store it in the fridge and grab it for a quick snack tomorrow. This healthy snack offers a good balance of carbs and protein, along with plenty of potassium from the bananas — so consider it for your post-workout pick.
12. Mini Egg Burrito
When in doubt, crack an egg — it's one of the easiest nutrient-rich foods to prepare any time of day. Thankfully, dietary cholesterol is no longer considered the "bad guy" it once was. Plus, whole eggs are rich in leucine, an essential amino acid that's key for building muscle, according to a December 2017 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. So, scramble an egg, wrap it up in a whole- or sprouted-grain tortilla and serve it with a few tablespoons of fresh guacamole. The combination provides a more balanced nutrient profile than guac and chips. Just pop it in a Tupperware and store it in the office fridge until hunger strikes!
Get the Mini Egg Burrito recipe and nutrition info here.
13. Organic Savory Energy Mix
About one out of every four workers ate nearly 1,300 extra calories per week just from office snacks and drinks, according to a June 2019 study published in Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. And those snacks were often high in sodium and added sugar. So before you hit the office break room, be prepared! Take an energy mix to the office to munch on by combining equal parts unsalted kale chips, organic freeze-dried corn and organic roasted chickpeas for a fiber-rich snack. Make a big batch to share with coworkers, too!
- Mintel: "A Snacking Nation: 94% of Americans Snack Daily"
- IFT: "Snacking Constitutes 25 Percent of Calories Consumed in U.S."
- UN Environment Report: Waste Not, Want Not: Reducing Food Loss and Waste in North America Through Life Cycle-Based Approaches
- Nutrients: "The Anti-Inflammatory and Antioxidant Potential of Pistachios (Pistacia vera L.) In Vitro and In Vivo"
- USDA National Nutrient Database: "Pears, Raw"
- Journal of Food and Drug Analysis: "An Apple a Day to Prevent Cancer Formation: Reducing Cancer Risk with Flavonoids"
- Dietary Guidelines 2015-2020: "Shifts Needed To Align With Healthy Eating Patterns"
- Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology: "Phenolic Compounds of Potato Peel Extracts: Their Antioxidant Activity and Protection against Human Enteric Viruses"
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: "Consumption of Whole Eggs Promotes Greater Stimulation of Postexercise Muscle Protein Synthesis Than Consumption of Isonitrogenous Amounts of Egg Whites in Young Men"
- Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "Foods and Beverages Obtained at the Worksites in the United States"
- Nutrients: "The Nutritional Value and Health Benefits of Chickpeas and Hummus"
- Jackie Newgent, RDN