Healthy eating isn’t all about calorie counting. Nutritious foods are key, but sometimes it’s nice to know you can grab a quick snack that doesn't deliver an entire meal's worth of calories. The next time hunger creeps up when it’s least convenient (like 30 minutes before a dinner reservation), turn to this list for a small and satisfying bite that won’t ruin a healthy day.[AD]
1. Pumpkin Yogurt
Combine 1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek Yogurt with 1/4 cup pumpkin purée. Sweeten with stevia, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, and pumpkin pie spice blend (or cinnamon). Pumpkin is a low fat way to increase this snack’s fiber and flavor profile.
2. DIY Chunky Apple Sauce
Dice up half a tennis-ball sized apple and add it to 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce. (So much apple!) You’ll get the spoonability of apple sauce, but with an added fresh crunch—not like that store-bought mushy stuff. Sprinkle with some cinnamon for an extra flavor kick.
3. Cottage Cheese and Cantaloupe
Top 1/2 cup of low-fat cottage cheese with 1/2 cup of diced cantaloupe. That 1/2 cup of cantaloupe delivers 50 percent of the daily recommended values of vitamins A and C—two vitamins that may help promote clear skin.
4. Egg Whites and Toast
Toast one slice whole-wheat bread and top with two scrambled egg whites. Sprinkle with a dash of pepper and paprika.
5. Red Pepper and Goat Cheese
Slice up one medium red pepper and enjoy with 2 tablespoons soft goat cheese. Goat cheese is tangy and flavorful, has about one third fewer calories and one third the fat per ounce compared to cow’s milk cheese.
6. Jicama and Honey Mustard Dip
Hicka-what? Jicama (pronounced, hic-kuh-muh) is a root veggie that touts six grams of fiber per cup. Peel and slice 1 1/2 cups, and dip into a mixture of 1 tablespoon Greek yogurt, 1 tablespoon mustard, and 1 teaspoon honey.
7. Carrots and Hummus
Chow down on 10 baby carrots with 2 tablespoons hummus. Jazz it up with fresh herbs like dill or parsley.
8. Cukes and Cream Cheese
Cut one medium cucumber into long strips. Combine 2 tablespoons diced roasted red pepper, 2 tablespoons low-fat cream cheese, and 1/4 teaspoon cracked pepper. Spread the cream cheese mixture onto the strips. Cucumbers are made up of mostly water, which makes them a healthy low-calorie dipper.
9. Broccoli and Tzatziki Sauce
Whip up a quick tzatziki-like sauce by combining 2 tablespoons plain nonfat Greek yogurt, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon minced cucumber. Dip six florets into the sauce. The healthy bonus here is that eating broccoli raw may help maintain the green veggie’s cancer-fighting nutrients.
10. Baby Corn and Soy Sauce
For a super quick snack, dip 20 baby corns into low-sodium soy sauce. Baby corn is high in folate, a B-vitamin that helps produce and maintain new cells.
11. Open Faced Turkey Sammie
Toast one slice whole-wheat bread and spread with 1 teaspoon honey mustard. Top with two slices of deli turkey.
12. Apples and Cheese
Pair a Laughing Cow Mini Babybel Light cheese wheel with half a baseball-sized apple, sliced. The cheese has six grams of protein and 20 percent of the daily recommended value of calcium.
13. 14 Almonds
Almonds don’t need any extras to be a satisfying snack. Added bonus: They’re the most nutritionally dense nut (which means they have the highest concentration of nutrients per calorie). Try eight of our cocoa dusted almonds for a sweeter version.
14. Rice Cake and Almond Butter
Top a rice cake with 2 teaspoons almond butter. While it’s not nearly as popular as peanut butter, almond butter is a better choice when it comes to fiber, iron and especially vitamin E.
15. 22 Pistachios
These little guys are the biggest bang for your calorie buck. Pistachios rank higher in protein and lower in saturated fat compared to most other nuts. Pick the in-shell variety if you can. One study found people consume up to 41 percent more calories from pistachios when they don’t have to crack the shell to work for it In-shell pistachio nuts reduce caloric intake compared to shelled nuts. Honselman, C.S., Painter, J.E., Kennedy-Hagan, K.J., et al. Family and Consumer Sciences, Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, IL. Appetite. 2011 Oct;57(2):414-7..
16. Cheesy Popcorn
Toss 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese and a dash of cayenne pepper with 2 cups of freshly popped popcorn. Choose a low-fat, low-sodium pre-packaged variety or pop kernels in a small paper bag in the microwave. Grated parm can have a lot of salt, but one tablespoon has only three percent of the daily recommended value, and only 22 calories for a whole lot of added flavor.
17. Kettle Corn
Toss 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 teaspoon stevia with 2 cups freshly popped popcorn. Try shaking it all up in a paper bag or a container with a lid on it for even topping distribution. Not a fan of stevia? Swap it for 1 teaspoon honey plus 1 teaspoon water microwaved for 20 seconds to thin it out.
18. Avocado Rice Cake
Top a rice cake (we like the unsalted brown rice variety) with a fourth of an avocado, mashed. Sprinkle with cracked black pepper and paprika. Avocados are a good source of monounsaturated fat (the kind that can help improve cholesterol levels and decrease the risk of heart disease) Reducing saturated fat intake is associated with increased LDL receptors on mononuclear cells in healthy men and women. Mustad, V.A., Etherton, T.D., Cooper, A.D. Graduate Program in Nutrition, Pennsylvania State University. Journal of Lipid Research, 1997 Mar;38(3):459-68. Dietary fat and heart failure: moving from lipotoxicity to lipoprotection. Stanley, WC, Dabkowski, ER, Ribeiro, RF JR., et al. Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine, University of Maryland. Circulation Research, 2012 Mar 2;110(5):764-76..
19. Hard Boiled Egg Whites and Mustard
Boil four eggs for 12 to 15 minutes. Let them cool, de-shell, slice in half, and remove the yolks with a spoon. Sprinkle with pepper and dip in 1 tablespoon mustard. The really yellow mustards get their color from turmeric, an anti-inflammatory spice. Pro tip: If you add 1 teaspoon baking soda to the water, the eggs will be a cinch to peel!
20. Watermelon Salad
Top 1 cup raw spinach with 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar and 3/4 cup diced watermelon. Spinach has a ton of vitamin K (which helps blood clot properly when you get cut) and vitamin A (which is good for your eyes).
21. Mexican Potato
There’s always the option to bake a potato, but for a quick snack version turn to the microwave. Pierce a medium potato (about the size of a computer mouse) a few times with a fork, and microwave on high for about five minutes, or until soft (you should be able to remove a knife without any resistance). Top half of the potato with 1 tablespoon salsa and 1 tablespoon plain Greek yogurt (a great stand in for sour cream). Save the other half in the fridge for the next time you're in need of a quick snack!
22. White Bean Salad
Combine 1/3 cup white beans with 1 tablespoon sliced scallions, a squeeze of lemon juice, and 1/4 cup diced tomatoes. White beans are a good source of dietary fiber, protein, and iron.
Toss 10 large boiled shrimp in 1 tablespoon lime juice. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon chili powder. Here’s the kicker: This little snack has over 10 grams of protein! Shrimp also have a high concentration of the antioxidant astaxanthin, known to reduce inflammation Astaxanthin decreased oxidative stress and inflammation and enhanced immune response in humans. Park, J.S., Chyun, J.H., Kim, Y.K. School of Food Science, Washington State University. Nutrition and Metabolism, 2010 Mar 5;7:18..
24. Baked Apple
Baked apples can get all dressed up and filled with oats, nuts, and other tasty stuff. But for a simple low-cal version, core a tennis-ball sized apple, dust it with cinnamon, and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes (or until tender, but not mushy).
25. Frozen Grapes
Grapes make a great snack fresh or frozen, but if you opt for the chilly state, they last way longer. Nosh on 1 cup (about 28 grapes). Feeling fancy? Use them as fruity ice cubes in a tall glass of water to stay hydrated while snacking.
26. Strawberries and Goat Cheese
Pair 10 large strawberries with 1 tablespoon soft goat cheese. This serving of strawberries has over 100 percent of the daily recommended value of vitamin C.
28. English Muffin and Fruit Butter
Toast half a whole-wheat English muffin. Top with 2 teaspoons pumpkin butter or apple butter. Choosing these spreads over conventional jams can save about 20 calories per serving.
29. Protein Shake
Shake up one scoop vanilla whey protein with 1 cup unsweetened almond milk. This one’s perfect for post-workout snacking too—whey protein has been shown to help rebuild muscles after exercise. (We're also big fans of turning this into dessert).
30. Enlightened Bars
These healthier ice cream bars aren’t just low in calories — they actually have some impressive nutritional stats: Eight grams of protein, no artificial sweeteners, only three grams of sugar, and five grams of fiber per bar. (We’re partial to the coffee flavor at Greatist HQ—surprise, surprise.)
31. Dark Chocolate
Let's be honest, this snack doesn’t need any friends. Enjoy three squares or five dark chocolate kisses. A bit of the dark stuff can help regulate levels of the stress hormone cortisol Differential effect of polyphenol-rich dark chocolate on biomarkers of glucose metabolism and cardiovascular risk factors in healthy, overweight and obese subjects: a randomized clinical trial. Almoosawi, S., Tsang, C., Ostertag, L.M. MRC Human Nutrition Research, Elsie Widdowson Laboratory. Food & Function, 2012 Oct;3(10):1035-43..