When ya gotta snack … ya gotta snack. And all too often when that soul-gripping snack urge strikes, you find yourself morosely wandering around the kitchen, peering glumly into well-stocked cupboards and getting frostbite from standing in front of an open fridge packed to bursting with healthy food, muttering “there’s nothing to eat here.”
But I bet there is. Here are four great, fun, healthy snacks that have tons of treat value for a teeny (under 200 calorie) diet price … and chances are, you have the makings for all of them.
Frozen Grapes – European red or green seedless grapes like Thompson seedless are best for freezing – just give them a quick rinse under the faucet, shake of excess moisture, and pop ’em into the freezer. In a very short time they turn into super-sweet little nuggets of icy eating pleasure. And lots of it – this type of grape weighs in at about 3.5 calories each, so you can eat more than 50 of them and still come in under 200 calories! When you consider that 50 potato chips could easily set you back a good 750 calories (not to mention making your fingers greasy and leaving you hungry for more), you see what an outstanding snack deal frozen grapes really are.
This is one of the rare foods that delivers both the grandness of quality and the splendor of quantity. And I’m all about quantity.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich Don’t scoff – this all-American classic is sweet, filling, and satisfying, and with the right components can easily come in under 200 calories. Start with the right bread; we use a 35 calorie per slice diet lite wheat. Unless you’re a jelly purist you’ll find that cheap store-brand diet jelly does the trick perfectly; we’re currently very hot on Great Value diet strawberry, which has a delightfully teensy 10 calories per tablespoon. We’re hardcore (yet cheap) about our peanut butter so we go for Wal-mart’s store brand full-fat version, which comes in at 90 cals for one tablespoon, and that’s really all you need. Put them together and voila! You have a fantastic snack for just 170 calories.
On a personal note, I find that a PB&J, untoasted, is the perfect panecea for those times when you’re feeling abused by life; there’s nothing like that indescribably comforting combo of the soft bread, creamy peanut butter, and tart sweetness of the jelly to make you forget what a pain in the ass the day has been. Works for me every time.
Air Popped Popcorn – Sure those little 100-calorie bags of microwave popcorn are convenient, but they’re expensive and high sodium (howzabout 13% of your daily sodium in a single bag?!), and really just don’t stand up to a serious case of the munchies. If you’re settling in for a long evening of munch-inducing activity, like a red-hot game of monopoly or a Mad Men marathon, you’re far better off hauling out the old air popper.
One cup of air-popped popcorn has just 30 calories and a negligible amount of sodium (0.32 mg). If you can develop a taste for plain popcorn, you’re good to go; if you need a bit of tarting up, give it a quick blast of non-stick spray and sprinkle on the zippy flavoring of your choice (chili, garlic, onion, or curry powder, spice mixes, etc.) You can eat six cups of air popped popcorn before hitting the 200 calorie mark, and for me that alone puts it into the “just grand” category.
Apple Slices dipped in Something – Nothing against eating an apple just as it is, but honestly there are times when what you really crave isn’t something that’s crisp and refreshing and healthy, it’s something sweet and indulgent and at least vaguely treat-like. And apple slices dipped in some kind of soft, sweetish concoction hits the spot.
Start by slicing the apple thinly (like you would for a pie filling); this is crucial, because the more slices you make, the longer the snack experience is going to last. Some of my favorite apple-dippers are plain peanut butter (whisk in a dribble of water to make it soft and dip-able); a couple tablespoons of fat free sour cream whipped up with some artificial sweetener and maybe a shake of cinnamon); and a tablespoon or so of sugar-free, fat-free vanilla instant pudding mix whisked with enough soymilk to make a smooth, velvety, thick cream consistency. Yum.
Check out some more choice healthy food articles!