It’s 2 p.m. and the salad you had for lunch didn’t quite fill you up. What do you snack on? While snacking healthily during the day can help curb your appetite between meals and help provide the daily nutrients your body needs, unhealthy snack choices can add unnecessary calories. To help you make smarter choices when it comes to snacking, here are seven easy 100-calorie snacks that are as satisfying as they are nutritious.
1. Blueberries and cottage cheese: A half-cup of fat-free cottage cheese with blueberries is an excellent choice for a snack, and it’s a perfect combination when you are in the mood for something sweet and savory. Cottage cheese is an excellent source of protein, but moderation is key because of its high sodium content. Although cottage cheese contains calcium, much of it is lost in the processing, so if you are looking to increase calcium, be sure to choose calcium-fortified cottage cheese. Adding a quarter cup of blueberries makes this a great source of cancer-fighting antioxidants and vitamins K and C.
2. Greek yogurt: It’s an excellent source of calcium and protein. In fact, most Greek yogurts have twice the protein as regular yogurts. It's a good source of vitamin D, riboflavin, phosphorus and potassium. Be sure to read the ingredient list to make sure it contains live active cultures. Greek yogurt contains probiotics — or healthy bacteria — which have shown promising results in supporting digestive health, diabetes control and the immune system. If you are feeling adventurous and would enjoy a nutty flavor, add 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed, an excellent source of fiber that also contains heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids. Also, be sure to check the label for the sugar content; many flavored Greek yogurts contain a significant amount of sugar.
3. Low-sodium canned beans: For a quick snack, rinse and toss a half cup of low-sodium canned beans with tomatoes, onions and cilantro. Beans or legumes are an excellent source of plant protein, iron and dietary fiber. Fiber has been shown to help with blood sugar control, cholesterol control and weight loss. For example, just a half-cup of garbanzo beans provides 25 percent of the recommended dietary fiber in one day.
For another quick high-fiber, high-protein snack, stock up on frozen soybeans (or edamame) and steam them in the microwave whenever hunger strikes. Just a half-cup of shelled steamed soybeans will give you 9 grams of fiber and 11 grams of protein — that's the same amount of fiber you would find in four slices of whole-wheat bread!
4. Hummus and veggies: Veggies dipped in hummus are the perfect snack if you need something to hold you through the next meal. Hummus is a very popular food dip or spread that is made of chickpeas or other beans, tahini (a sesame paste), olive oil, lemon juice and garlic. But because of its high fat content, it should be enjoyed in moderation. To help with portion control, either scoop out a quarter-cup serving or buy individual size packs. And instead of pita chips, dip carrots or celery, which are high in fiber, vitamins and minerals.
5. Sliced apples and peanut butter: The fiber and protein in half an apple and two teaspoons of natural style peanut butter make this snack a perfect combination. The dietary fiber in apples helps fill you up, and the healthy monounsaturated fat found in peanut butter keeps you satiated for hours. Peanut butter is a high-fat food, so be careful with the portion size. Be sure to include the skin of the apple because the skin contains half of the fruit's fiber, antioxidants and vitamin C.
6. Almond butter on whole wheat toast: This quick and delicious snack will be sure to become a family favorite. Almond butter is a healthy alternative to peanut butter that supplies a similar amount of protein, carbohydrates, iron and heart healthy unsaturated fats. It can be used almost interchangeably with peanut butter, making it great option for those who can’t eat peanuts. Because of its calorie density, almond butter should be used in moderation.
Whole-wheat bread provides us with energy boosting carbohydrates, fiber and B vitamins that can help you feel full for hours. Make sure to read the food label and look for products that list whole grain as one of the first ingredients.
7. Low-fat quesadilla: Heat one low-fat string cheese inside one corn tortilla for a quick low-fat quesadilla that will be filling and delicious. Use low-fat string cheese to help manage portion control. String cheese is the perfect portable snack that’s packed with protein, phosphorus and calcium for strong bones. Corn tortillas offer health benefits because of their phosphorus content, which contributes to healthy bone tissue, supports red blood cell function and acts as a chemical buffer to control the acidity of your blood. To help increase the fiber content and to improve the flavor you can also add spinach or salsa.
Contributor: Silvia Delgado, RD