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Healthy Snack Ideas

Snacking is often regarded as a bad behavior and restricted or eliminated from our diets. However, snacks can be an important part of your nutritious eating plan if the foods you choose are healthy and contribute to a well-balanced diet.

Snacking is not just for children — adults need snacks as well. Healthy snacks provide extra energy for exercise or help sustain energy until you eat a meal. Choosing healthy snacks between meals can also prevent overeating by reducing hunger at mealtimes.

Snacking can be good for you, but remember — snack calories count in your total calories for the day. So, make sure to pick healthy, low-calorie snacks and skip the junk food.

Calorie-Free Snacks

  • Salad greens (lettuce, spinach and romaine)
  • 1 cup raw vegetables (cucumbers, mushrooms, celery or broccoli, for example)
  • Frozen Crystal Light Popsicle
  • Diet Jello
  • Bouillon or skimmed broth (preferably low-sodium)

Very Low-Calorie Snacks

  • 5 Saltine crackers
  • 2 cups air-popped popcorn
  • 3 graham crackers (2 1/2 inch square pieces)
  • 1 rice cake with 1 tbsp. part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 large carrot with 1 tbsp. fat-free dressing
  • 1 small piece of fruit (apple or pear)
  • 1 medium piece of fruit (peach, orange or nectarine)
  • 1/2 small banana
  • 1 tbsp. raisins
  • 1 slice lean turkey or chicken cold cut
  • 1 ounce low-fat cheese
  • 1/2 cup sugar-free pudding made with non-fat milk

Low-Calorie Snacks

  • Toasted English muffin with jelly
  • 1 small tortilla with 1 ounce low-fat melted cheese and salsa
  • 1 cup cereal with 1/2 cup non-fat milk
  • Small baked potato with salsa, non-fat sour cream or non-fat yogurt topping
  • Mini-pizza: 1/2 English muffin or bagel with 1-ounce low-fat cheese and tomato sauce
  • 12 baked tortilla chips with salsa
  • 1/2 bagel with alfalfa sprouts, cucumber, tomato and non-fat cream cheese
  • 1/2 sandwich made with lean turkey or chicken, lettuce, tomato and mustard
  • Grape Nuts (1/3 cup) with 4 ounces non-fat vanilla yogurt
  • Small whole-wheat plain bagel
  • 12 Baked Lay's potato chips
  • Baked apple sprinkled with cinnamon
  • Large frozen banana with 1 tbsp. peanut butter
  • Non-fat cottage cheese with fresh fruit
  • 8-ounce carton low-fat or nonfat yogurt
  • 1/2 cup sugar-free or fat-free ice cream

Recipes

Try these recipes with your family and make snack time a healthy and fun activity.

Party Parfait
(serves 2)

You will need:

  • 2 cups plain or vanilla non-fat yogurt
  • 1/2 cup fresh fruit
  • 1/4 cup whole grain cereal

To prepare:

  • Fill two parfait glasses half full with yogurt (approximately 1/2 cup in each)
  • Layer 1/8 cup of fruit on top of the yogurt
  • Sprinkle a little cereal on top of the fruit
  • Layer another 1/2 cup yogurt into each glass
  • Add another 1/8 cup of fruit on top of the yogurt
  • Finally, sprinkle on the remaining cereal
  • Chill until ready to serve

Bananas on a Stick
(serves 6)

You will need:

  • 3 bananas, peeled and cut in half widthwise
  • 1/4 cup all natural peanut butter (such as Adam's) softened
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans, walnuts, low-fat granola or crispy rice cereal
  • 6 popsicle sticks

To prepare:

  • Push one popsicle stick into the cut end of each banana
  • Lightly spread the peanut butter onto the bananas
  • Roll the banana in the nuts or cereal
  • Serve immediately or wrap the bananas in waxed paper and freeze for at least 3 hours for a fun frozen treat.

Other Ideas

Some other quick and easy ideas are to use cookie cutters to make fun shapes out of sandwiches or Jell-O.

  • Prepare the sandwiches and then use the cookie cutters and be as creative as you can.
  • Make Jell-O, pour into a sheet pan and chill until set. Remove the sheet pan from the refrigerator and use the cookie cutters to make the shapes. Remove them from the pan with a spatula.

 

Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or health care provider. We encourage you to discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have.