I have been trying to eat more mindfully these days, focusing on hunger as my consumption cue rather than set meal times. This is all well and good until hunger strikes when I’m out and about, or short on time.
To take the edge off the hunger pangs, I’ve come up with an arsenal of 10 minimally processed 100-ish calorie snacks that get me by until a proper meal can be had. And spoiler alert, you won’t see bars of any sort on the list. I have learned along the way that they are typically loaded with both calories and sugar, and should only really be consumed as a meal replacement. Okay, here we go:
1–3. Bananas/Apples/Oranges. These are the perfect mom snacks because they require no preparation, are completely unprocessed, and can easily be tossed in your bag on the way out the door. Bananas are my go-to because I find them super filling and their nature made packaging means I don’t have to worry about washing them. Apples, lovingly dubbed nature’s candy, are the perfect go-to-grab when a sugar craving hits. They taste like a sweet treat and their fiber and water-rich density makes them super filling. Oranges are great because the process of peeling/eating them takes a while, forcing you to slow down and savor them. And while both bananas and apples clock in around 100 calories per fruit, oranges are typically closer to 60 calories, making them just a tiny blip your daily caloric radar.
4. Hard-Boiled Eggs. Every Sunday evening I boil up a pot of hard-boiled eggs for the week. I pack them in my kid’s lunches, and also save several of these protein-packed, unprocessed snacks for myself. If I’m taking them on-the-go, I peel them, sprinkle with a little kosher salt, and place in a small Tupperware cube. If I’m enjoying one at home, I’ll often slice it up and top with a bit of (naturally-low in calorie) mustard. Averaging around 80-calories, hard-boiled eggs are quite dense and full of protein, which helps one feel more full with less calories.
5. Skinny Vanilla (or other sugar-free flavored) Latte. There are times when we all need an afternoon pick-me up, and only a trip to your local coffee shop will do. Starbucks’s skinny vanilla lattes are my go-to indulgence, and the best part is, clocking in at about 60-calories, I don’t have to beat myself up for my little treat (Frappuccinos on the other hand can run in the 500-calories range!). This little treat is obviously not limited to Starbucks, just make sure and order a sugar free/non-fat latte at your local coffee joint if you’re aiming to keep your calorie budget in check. Almond milk, which is a popular dairy- free alternative, is also a great choice coming in around 100 calories for a 12-ounce serving.
6. Edamame with Sea Salt. Edamame (immature soy beans) are a delicious, plant-based snack that provide an excellent source of protein and iron. A half cup of this filling food is about 120-calories when shelled. I actually prefer to buy the beans in their pods, since the act of shelling them slows down the snacking process and allows me to savor their lovely flavor and texture. Throwing a bowl of edamame on the table while dinner is in the works is also a great way to ward of hangry kids.
7. Pistachios. I liken pistachios a bit to Turkish Delight, once I’ve gotten a taste them, I can’t stop myself. So, if I’m on the go and likely in need of a snack, I’ll portion off about 30 nuts. Yes, that’s not much, but their uber meaty texture and high (healthy) fat/protein content make them very filling. They are also one of the best sources for vitamin B6, something that we ladies are known to run low on. Adding herbs and spices to anything is an excellent low-calorie way to add a punch of flavor, which led me to this delicious brand of sweet chili pistachios.
8. Cocoa Dusted Almonds. We’ve all read some version of the line “well, when I get hungry, I just help myself to a handful of almonds” a hundred times from various supermodels/actresses when interviewed about how they stay in such amazing shape. The problem is, I find almonds quite boring on their own. That is until I tried this brand of cocoa dusted almonds, which comes in a variety of flavors, including espresso, mint, and raspberry. Let’s just say if anyone decides to mug me in the near future (please don’t, I already have anxiety!), they will likely be treated to some cocoa-dusted almonds. I definitely have to portion control myself with these, as I could easily eat the whole bag. Ten almonds equate to about 100 calories, and my favorite aforementioned brand also has snack-sized, 150-calorie bags. Not only does the dusting of cocoa help tame a sweet tooth, the high protein content quickly leaves me feeling full.
9. Veggie + Hummus Cups. Vegetables are typically low in calories, high in water content, fiber, and antioxidants. I don’t need to tell you we should all be eating a ton of them. Like almonds, they can also be a little boring. Hummus, on the other hand, is always invited to the party. It’s delicious and full of protein. It is also a made up mostly of chickpeas, a legume, which means the calories can add up quickly, so getting your portion sizing in is key to not overdoing it. I like to fill the base of a lidded jar with ¼-cup of hummus, which runs you about 100-calories, then push sliced veggies such as carrots, peppers, celery, or cucumbers in the bottom of the jar for a healthy and filling fix.
10. Popcorn. Popcorn can be a delicious and healthy high-fiber snack. I’m not talking of course about the swimming-pool sized tub filled with butter and salt you get at the movie theater, but rather the mostly unadulterated brands such as this one that are only 39-calories per cup! We recently bought a home popper in an effort to reduce our household waste (popcorn is a nightly thing on my turf). I like to sprinkle my home pop with a little lime juice and chili-salt in lieu of butter for a delicious low-calorie burst of flavor.
Mindful, healthy snacking is an important element to staying fueled and satisfied. When the hunger pangs hit, and sitting down to a proper meal isn’t in the cards, try one of my 10 go-to, guilt-free snacks that will leave you feeling healthy and fulfilled until meal-time.