People always ask me “what’s a healthy snack?” My answer is always the same – a healthy snack is one that you can identify as coming from one or more of the key food groups – fruits, veggies, grains (especially whole grains), lean meat and beans, and low fat dairy foods (or calcium-rich dairy alternatives).
My personal favorite healthy snacks include one or more of the following: a small handful of raw cashews, a hunk of cheddar cheese, 1 cup of cantaloupe, some baby carrots or cold Brussels sprouts, a bowl of pink grapefruit sections, or a bowl of whole grain, high fiber cereal with skim milk and banana.
I asked some of my favorite food, health, and nutrition experts and authors for their personal favorite grab-and-go snacks. Try some of these in-between meals, after school or work, or before heading to a big party to meet your nutrient needs and temper your hunger. And please let me know how it goes!
“I love layering 2 rice cakes with sliced tomato and low-fat cheese (reduced fat cheddar or Swiss, or cottage cheese).”
~Joy Bauer, MS, RD, Today Show diet and nutrition expert and New York Times bestselling author
“Fuji apples — I obviously can’t prove that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but I do eat one Fuji apple daily and I feel GREAT! They’re my favorite kind of apple–tart and sweet. I LOVE THEM.”
~Lisa Lillien (aka Hungry Girl), New York Times bestselling author
“I like 2-3 tablespoons of a high fiber cereal in a small container of plain, low-fat or fat-free Greek yogurt.”
~Margaret M. Furtado, MS, RD, LDN, RYT, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center
“A hard cooked egg and whole grain crackers, or a toasted whole wheat English muffin topped with 1/2 cup no added salt low fat cottage cheese are two of my favorites.”
~Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD, author of Expect the Best: Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During, and After Pregnancy
“A black bean taco made with a corn tortilla and one tablespoon of shredded 2% Mexican cheese and salsa.”
~Robin Plotkin, RD, LD, Culinary and Nutrition Expert
“1/4 cup chocolate milk with 3/4 cup skim milk tastes great, especially when it’s warm and steamy.”
~Bonnie Taub-Dix, MA, RD, CDN, author of Read It Before You Eat It
“A nut-free granola bar (such as Enjoy Life Foods) and a small apple– one of my favorite portable snack combinations.”
~Lisa Stollman, MA, RD, CDE, CDN
“I love to make “pizza bites;” I cut a few small squares out of a damacus bakery flax seed wrap, top them with yummy toppings (such as homemade pesto with spinach and goat cheese), and warm them in the oven for a few minutes.”
~Cait Morth, NSCA certified personal trainer
“I love pretzel crackers with hummus- you can even buy individual pre-portioned servings (or portion yourself to save $).
~Heather Mangieri, MS, RD, CSSD, Spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association
“Apple Triscuits made with Gala apples and sharp cheddar cheese, sliced and layered on Triscuits and broiled until warm..yum!”
~Wendy Jo Peterson, MS, RD, a San Diego, CA-based dietitian
“Roasted edamame or raw cashews– so easy to grab and go with either of them!”
~Keri Gans, MS, RD, CDN, Spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association
“I keep a big handful of grapes in the freezer. On the way out the door, I grab some frozen grapes and a cheese stick and there’s my snack!
~Rebecca Scritchfield, MA, RD, a Washington, D.C.-based dietitian
“I love to make a Garden Deli Sandwich made with a whole-wheat pita bread (2 ounces), 1/4 cup cream cheese (preferably low-fat or fat free), 1/2 cup sliced cucumber, not peeled, 4 tomato slices, and 1 cup chopped lettuce. 1/2 sandwich makes a great snack.”
~Brenda J. Ponichtera, RD, author of the Quick and Healthy Cookbook Series
“One of my favorite snacks to have at work is a yogurt parfait made with fresh blueberries and a container of light blueberry yogurt; it’s easy, takes little time to eat, and gives me a boost of calcium and antioxidants.”
~Bridget Swinney MS, RD, LD, author of Healthy Food for Healthy Kids
“I roast edamame with plenty of spices including garlic powder, dried oregano, dried thyme, cayenne, salt and pepper, and a little olive oil until it’s completely crispy. I tuck it into baggies and off I go (with napkins in tow).”
~Robyn Webb, MS, cookbook author, culinary instructor, and Food Editor, Diabetes Forecast Magazine
“I make my own trail mix with almonds, dried cranberries, and whole grain dry cereal and put it in resealable bags and eat in the car on the run.”
~Sandy Nissenberg, MS, RD, author of The Everything Kids’ Cookbook
“For a super satisfying, fiber-rich snack, I love a small sweet potato (about 4 ounces), baked or nuked for about 6 minutes, sprinkled with low-fat cheese; dolloped with Greek yogurt in place of sour cream; or dashed with cinnamon and a touch of salt.”
~Corinne Dobbas, MS, RD
“I enjoy a handful of seedless red grapes, 1 slice Swiss cheese and 11 unsalted almonds or 2 tbsp of brazil nuts and 1/4 cup of raisins mixed into 1 cup of high fiber cereal.”
~Susan Weiner, RD, MS, CDE, CDN, Contributing Medical Producer, dLife TV