When trying to put together a healthy diet, even if people do just fine creating 3 well-balanced meals, many often fall apart in one area: snacking. The time between larger meals can leave the stomach growling and the hands reaching for the nearest convenient snack—usually chips from the vending machine, cookies or cake in the office kitchen, or those dreaded 100 calorie packs of food that aren’t actually part of the food pyramid and never seem quite filling enough in portions of one.
But you don’t have to give up snacks altogether. And your snacks don’t have to be boring old plain fruits and vegetables, either. We’ve taken ingredients from our article “The 10 Best Foods to Eat for Being Heart Healthy” and put together 7 heart-healthy snack ideas that will leave you satisfied while contributing to your well-balanced diet:
- Nuts and yogurt. Mix a small bowl of low-fat yogurt with almonds, walnuts, or macadamia nuts, or even with low-sugar, whole grain granola. Try a vanilla or fruit-flavored yogurt and enjoy the sweet and crunchy mix!
- Your favorite raw veggie with 1/4 cup low-fat ranch dressing or hummus. Dress up carrots, colorful peppers, or broccoli with some delicious low-fat ranch for dipping, or even better, with hummus. Hummus is made with chickpeas, which contribute fiber, and olive oil, which is rich with the heart-healthy monounsaturated fat.
- Natural peanut butter! In moderation, opt for “natural” peanut butter, which has a lot of the heart-healthy nutrients nuts contain. (Be careful when choosing peanut butter because many manufacturers add salt and sugar for enhancing the flavor.) Spread peanut butter on wholegrain crackers, celery, or a slice of wholegrain bread.
- Make your own trail mix. Combine high-fiber or whole grain cereal with dried fruit, a few nuts, and even a few dark chocolate M&Ms. Make a large bag early in the week and pack small sandwich bags to bring with you to work or when on-the-go.
- Fruit smoothie. Freeze 1/2 to 1 cup of your favorite berries, and blend with a half a banana and a half cup of orange juice or low-fat milk. The berries contain anti-inflammatories, and the sweet treat also makes an excellent dessert.
- Avocado on multigrain bread. Spread avocado (which is packed with that monounsaturated fat and helps lower bad cholesterol) on multigrain bread, english muffin, or crackers. Top with a little cilantro and tomatoes for extra flavor.
- Oatmeal and bananas or dried cranberries. Fiber-rich oatmeal can lower cholesterol. This warm snack will leave you satisfied, and of course, your heart all the healthier!
Sign up for our nutrition class on Wednesday, April 14 from 1-2PM to find out more about creating an all around healthy diet.