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The holidays are right around the corner... You know, that time before the time you don't stop eating between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve. To gear up for all those office parties, family get-togethers and holiday functions, how about some tips for healthy, affordable snacks to eat at your desk or on the go?
The key ingredients for a healthy snack are protein and fiber, at least five grams each, advised Dr. Sonali Ruder, who blogs at “The Foodie Physician” and serves as ambassador for the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council. “It has more staying power. It’s going to keep you full,” Ruder explained, adding that plant-based proteins (pea protein, hemp and chia seeds) are a trending ingredient that fits the bill (think: sweet potato or kale chips).
Bonnie Taub-Dix, registered dietitian and creator of BetterThanDieting.com, takes it a step further and recommends snacks with three crucial ingredients. “The main goal here is that snacks, just like meals, should contain protein, carbohydrates and fat,” said Taub-Dix, RDN. "That way you get longer-lasting energy.” Think of it like a three-legged stool, where failure to adhere to one could cause an imbalance in your diet, she advised..
Here are seven snacks that you can feel good about — and don’t cost a lot either.
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1. KIND Bars, Caramel Almond and Sea Salt Gluten-Free, $13.51 (pack of 12), Amazon
These bars come in a variety of flavors — even sweet kinds like these caramel-almond and sea-salt bars. “Even the wrapping is transparent,” said Taub-Dix. “You can see the nuts, you can see the fruit. I never leave home, especially for a trip, without them. It keeps you from stopping into a bakery for a muffin.”
2. Splitz Original Crunchy Split Pea Crisp Snacks, $13 (pack of 8), Amazon
Tuck these snacks — made from yellow split peas and no fillers or additives — into your purse or tote to tide you over between meals. “Pea protein is very high in protein and it helps curb your hunger more,” said Ruder. Plus, they have a crisp crunch and are healthier than potato chips.
3. Sabra Classic Hummus Singles, $3 (pack of six two-ounce cups), Jet
This brand of hummus is a perennial staple for a healthy snack. “Instead of taking crackers, because you already have carbs, you can have it with baby carrots or jicama sticks,” said Taub-Dix.
4. Quaker Instant Oatmeal Super Grains Apple-Cinnamon (6-pack), $9, Amazon
“Ancient grains” products can be pricey but this one is affordable, featuring flax, barley and quinoa. “It’s a nice portable breakfast,” said Ruder. Fruits and nuts are also in the oatmeal, with honey or brown sugar as a more natural sweetener. “It’s kind of my comfort food,” said Taub-Dix, who suggests adding additional flavor with cottage cheese or almond butter.
5. Smartfood Sweet & Salty Kettle Corn Flavored Popcorn, $3 (10 ounces), Amazon
Pre-popped popcorn now comes in fun flavors and seasonings — and is still a healthy snack. “Popcorn is a whole grain,” said Ruder. “A lot of people forget that.” This Smartfood bag of whole-grain, air-popped popcorn is enough for 10 servings and is free of artificial color, flavor or preservatives.
6. Eat Well Embrace Life Hummus Edamame with Red Pepper, $4 (10-ounce), Amazon
Hummus is nothing new but now, in a single tub, you can get your vegetable intake, too. The company Veggicopia offers chickpea, edamame and roasted red pepper versions. Add some carrots or whole grain crackers and you have a well-balanced snack.
7. Barney Butter Almond Butter Snack Pack Smooth, $18.19 (pack of 24), Amazon
It’s the portability of these that wins Taub-Dix over. “If on the plane they’re handing out cookies or chips, squeeze almond butter onto pretzels,” she said. Or, spread almond butter between two slices of wheat bread and pack it to go. “It’s a great food that doesn’t need refrigeration. It literally takes less than a minute to make,” Taub-Dix explained.
Looking to feed your family? Check out nutritionist-approved snacks for kids here.