by Lauren Venosta: Who doesn’t need more energy?
Especially mid-afternoon, after a full day? Avoid the easy grabs from the company kitchen or vending machines and take your own healthy energy-boosting snacks with you. Keep reading for ideas.
Snacking is something most people do every day and oftentimes it’s centered around an event or activity. Going to a movie? Get some goodies. Jumping in the car for a road trip? Pack the snacks. Hungry at the beach? Bust out the refreshments! But snacks aren’t always a good idea because, in the standard American diet, snack foods often aren’t “real” food; they are often overly processed and loaded with sugar. Think about it—chips, crackers, candy bars, granola bars, cookies, trail mixes, cheese products, and protein bars are all processed and typically contain some type of sugar. When you eat these snacks, they don’t provide your body with high amounts of nutrients. And what is the point of snacking to begin with? Energy.
Snacks should provide you with a little energy to last you to the next meal or satisfy a low level of hunger. But processed snacks like chips or cookies don’t provide energy—they drain it. Digestion is an energy-consuming function of the human body. Digestion requires breaking down the food, extracting nutrients, absorbing nutrients, and assimilating those nutrients (for example, making proteins for antibodies) to give your body what it needs.
If you’re snacking for energy, be sure to make your snack nutrient-dense so your body isn’t doing the work of digestion for nothing. Because if you consume a snack that is void of nutrients, such as a processed granola bar, the energy-consuming digestive process is going to be a waste because there are few or no nutrients for your body to absorb. Avoid those empty calories! Choose snacks that are both satisfying and healthy so you can enjoy your snack and increase your energy too.
When you’re looking to consume a snack, focus on these three tips:
- Choose snacks that are as fresh and minimally processed as possible. The less processed your snack is, the more nutrients it will have. Think about choosing a nutrient-dense food (such as an apple) instead of a calorically dense food (such as chips).
- Make the snacks easy to access and consume. If a snack requires a lot of preparation, you’re more likely to grab a granola bar or candy bar for convenience. Package your healthy snacks so that they are easy to grab and go.
- Pick foods you enjoy eating. If you are eating snacks that you don’t like just because they are healthy, it won’t last. Find foods that are healthy and satisfying. There are tons of options for nutrient-dense real-food snacks that you can enjoy.
The following are 10 healthy snacks that will improve your energy and satisfy your taste buds, too. These snacks are minimally processed and loaded with nutrients. They are all easy to consume and won’t leave you feeling depleted.
1. Brown Rice Cake with Almond Butter and Cinnamon
This is a great at-home snack that you can make in less than two minutes. You’re getting healthy carbohydrates from the brown rice cake, and healthy fat and protein from the almond butter. The cinnamon is helpful for balancing blood sugar (which means you’re less likely to have an energy crash).
2. Celery Sticks with Dates
Celery is a fibrous vegetable that will help keep you full between meals. It’s also water-rich so it will help you stay hydrated. Dates contain healthy carbohydrates, which give the body the necessary glucose for energy. This is an easy snack to take on the go.
3. Raw Cashews with Dried Cranberries
This is a simple and healthy take on a trail mix. Cashews provide healthy fat and protein, while dried cranberries give glucose to boost energy. Glucose from a dried fruit is superior to the refined sugar in a candy bar. It’s important to be cautious with sugar; consider the source before consuming it.
4. Avocado with Himalayan Pink Salt
Avocados are loaded with healthy fats that the body can use for energy. Adding the pink salt provides the body with a tiny boost of minerals that are often lacking, such as magnesium. This is a good at-home snack that’s quick and easy.
5. Banana with Almond Butter
This super simple and delicious combo will satisfy your cravings for sweet and salty foods. Bananas are great for energy, and the almond butter provides healthy fat and protein. It’s creamy and tasty too!
6. Hard-Boiled Eggs
Hard-boiled eggs are an easy snack that packs a protein punch. Protein helps promote satiety (aka fullness), and the amino acids that make up proteins promote energy production. Eggs are quick to eat and don’t require much work. You can buy them at the grocery store already hard-boiled or you can follow this simple recipe to make them in the oven.
No-Boil Hard-Boiled Eggs
1 dozen eggs
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees (F).
Place the eggs in a muffin pan to prevent the eggs from rolling around. Put the pan in the oven and set the timer for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove eggs from the oven and place them in a bowl of ice water for 10 minutes. Timing is crucial for these eggs to turn out correctly, so use a timer.
Once you remove the eggs from the ice water, they can be peeled. Tap the eggs gently on a board and roll one at a time to help loosen the shell. Peel the entire shells off and you have easy hard-boiled eggs.
7. Roasted Chickpeas
These little crunchy goodies are the perfect healthy snack if you are a fan of chips or crackers. The salty crunch that these roasted chickpeas give you is super satisfying. Chickpeas have both protein and fiber, which will help keep you full and provide energy until your next meal. Try this recipe for Salt-and-Pepper Chickpea Crunchies.
Salt-and-Pepper Chickpea Crunchies
- 2 cans (15 oz.) chickpeas/garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
- 3 tablespoons melted coconut oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees (F).
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper to prevent sticking and for easy cleanup. Pour your chickpeas onto a blanket of paper towels and then use another paper towel to roll the chickpeas around. This will help loosen any of the skins on the chickpeas. When the skin is removed, they are crispier and crunchier.
Add the chickpeas to a bowl and pour in the melted coconut oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well until they are all coated. Pour out the chickpeas evenly onto your baking sheet and bake for 30–40 minutes until they are crunchy and brown.
You can add additional salt and pepper upon removal from the oven if desired. Let cool completely and store in an airtight container.
Makes 3 cups.
8. Bell Pepper Sticks with Guacamole
This snack is great for at home or to grab for on the go. You can slice up your favorite color of bell pepper and dip it into a basic guacamole recipe for a crunchy and satisfying snack. You can often find pre-cut bell pepper sticks and premade guacamole in your grocery store’s produce department. Avocados are loaded with nutrients and are about 79% fiber, so they are a filling snack that will keep your blood sugar stable and provide lasting energy.
9. Carrot Sticks with Hummus
Sweet carrot sticks with creamy hummus are simple yet satisfying. Carrots are rich in fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins, including high levels of B vitamins, which help to convert food into energy. Hummus, which typically contains chickpeas, tahini, and garlic or other herbs and spices, provides a steady source of energy and can also help control blood sugar levels. Slice up carrots on your own or buy them pre-cut at the grocery store. You can also buy store-bought hummus or make your own at home. And to switch it up, you can swap out carrots for cucumbers, bell peppers, or celery sticks.
10. Fresh Fruit with Nuts or Seeds
Fruit is widely available anywhere and is loaded with nutrients and fiber, both of which sustain energy levels. Nuts are also easy to eat and are abundant in healthy fats and protein, which is a valuable energy source. Think about these combos: apple with almonds, grapes with cashews, blueberries with pecans, blackberries with pumpkin seeds, pineapple with cashews, pear with peanuts—there are so many combos for this snack that you will never get bored.
With all these snack options, there is no need to reach for a bag of chips or a sugary granola bar. You can have fresh, real-food snacks that will give you lasting energy instead of just a temporary sugar high followed by an energy crash. As each new week begins, plan your favorite healthy snacks and prep them for easy grab-and-go, energy-boosting snacking throughout the week.