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Easy healthy snack ideas recommended by nutritionists

No more unsatisfying office snacks!
by Danielle Wolf and Kristine Hansen / / Source: TODAY
healthy snack ideas, smartfood popcorn, popcorn snack
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Have you ever tried to eat healthy, but somehow got sidetracked by the office snack cabinet? We've all been there. Instead, here are some 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 trending ingredients that fit 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. "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.

Keri Glassman, licensed dietitian and founder of NutritiousLife.com, calls snacks with protein, carbs and fat a "combo snack" because "the combination is what will keep you full and satisfied." She also shared that "snack time is also the perfect time to sneak in a serving of veggies, which don't need to make an appearance only at dinner time."

Here are seven healthy snacks that you can feel good about. They don't cost much either.

1. Kind Bars (Caramel, Almond and Sea Salt), $14 (pack of 12), Walmart

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Also available at Amazon.

These bars come in a variety of flavors — like the caramel, almond and sea-salt variety. “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, $20 (pack of 8), Amazon

A case is also available for $34 at Walmart.

Tuck these snacks — made from yellow split peas and no fillers or additives — into your purse to tide you over between meals. “Pea protein is very high in protein and it helps curb your hunger,” said Ruder. Plus, they have a crisp crunch and are healthier than potato chips.

3. Sabra Classic Hummus Singles, $5 (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. Raw Walnuts, $18, Amazon

Also available for $24 at Walmart.

"I’m a huge proponent of grabbing a small handful of nuts to hold you over to your next meal. Nuts are packed with protein and healthy fat, and you can always keep it interesting by mixing it up — macadamia, brazil, pistachios. They can be easy to overeat, so make sure to watch your portions," said Glassman.

5. Smartfood Popcorn Sweet & Salty Kettle Corn Popcorn, $3 (10 ounces), Walmart

Assorted flavors available at Target.

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. Dang Lightly Salted Coconut Chips, $3 (usually $4), Target

Original flavor available for $8 at Amazon.

"Crunchy, naturally sweet, and a helping of satiating and satisfying fat as well as fiber. Choose the lightly salted and unsweetened to ensure that you are choosing a healthy a low-sugar snack to munch on," said Glassman.

7. Barney Butter Almond Butter Snack Pack, $19 (pack of 24), Amazon

Also available for $29 at Jet.

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.

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