Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Healthy Snacks

When I started moaning about my new diet, I mentioned that I had to sort out some healthy snacks STAT. I work in the kind of job where tensions often run high, and I am an emotional eater. If I'm nervous, or I have a big deadline, or I'm worried, I want to eat. Normally, I'd wolf down some M&Ms but in my new world order those are verboten. So over the past week I've been investigating what kinds of treats are allowed. I've also called in some reinforcement: the wonderful Libby from Ravenous has kindly shared her go-to snacks to maximize your choices! So, dear readers, go on... nibble away!

Dried apricots
I love apricots, and I especially love dried apricots, so I was thrilled to find out that 1 cup of dried apricots is only 300 calories, so 1/2 cup at 150 calories is perfect for an afternoon pick me up. Plus, dried apricots retain more of their nutritional value than any other dried fruit. Be careful though as they do contain quite a lot of sugar. If you like them as much as me, you might want to try making "Shoe Leather". I grew up eating strips of this traditional Syrian pressed apricot roll; it's like a thicker, healthier version of a Fruit Roll-up and totally addictive.

Controversial: cashews have 553 calories per 100g. But they have super other benefits like antioxidants and tons of minerals. So the rule of thumb is a handful - not a sackful.

Ryvita & Boursin

Some people hate Ryvita. I don't mind it. I admit that it has a cardboardy texture, and has little actual flavor, but that is sort of the point: it is a low-cal vehicle. Paired with low-fat Boursin cheese, 1 cracker and a light spread of cheese is less than 80 calories. Top with a sliced cherry tomato, or some sliced black olives for a really nice mid-afternoon snack.


Cooked with a little tiny bit of vegetable oil, 1 cup of cooked popcorn without salt is only 55 calories. Be really healthy and just toss it with some cayenne pepper, or indulge with a teaspoon of sugar or salt or BOTH!

Jordan's Frusli cereal bars
If you're out and about and have a hungry cranky Irishman with you, sometimes you need to just get a snack in a package. Fear not. Jordan's Frusli bars are pretty tasty, pretty filling, and hit the spot for only 113 calories. Holland-Barrett's sells them individually, or you can be Mom-like and carry them with you in your bag (I might have to start doing that. As an insurance policy for my relationship).

Now for Libby's suggestions. She has some great tips for when to eat your snack for maximum benefit:

I have a few snack ideas and rules that I always follow. I pretty much always have a snack in the afternoon, about an hour and a half before my evening workout. It's good to fuel the body before a workout and if I don't, I could eat my whole kitchen when I get home after burning 400-500 calories. I really only have two rules for afternoon snacking: keep it under 300 calories (ideally 150-200) and full of protein. That way, your body will digest it quickly and it won't put your diet at risk by hiking your blog sugar levels. My three favourite healthy afternoon snacks at the moment are:

Greek yoghurt and nuts

(Especially Total 0%, but really any fat free Greek yoghurt will do). It is completely fat free and only about 100 calories for a really filling pot of healthy, protein-packed yoghurt. Because it has zero sugar, I usually add a small squeeze of honey and a small handful of chopped almonds for a little crunch. The almonds are good fats that your diet needs and also help fill you up.

Homemade hummus and raw vegetables

Homemade is the key word here. A lot of the grocery store versions have too many calories and way too much salt. Homemade versions require a hand blender, a can of chick peas, olive oil, lemon and garlic and about five minutes of your time. With raw veggies like carrot sticks and celery, this snack satisfies the need to chew and keeps you full for hours.

Cottage cheese and fruit
Low fat cottage cheese is full of protein and when mixed with strawberries and blueberries (pineapple also a fave), it is the perfect little salty sweet afternoon snack. And if you're really hungry, you can eat a lot of cottage cheese and berries for under 300 calories!

Thanks, Libby!

So what are your favorite low-cal, healthy snacks? Feel free to share and if you want to write your own post, let me know and I'll link to it. Enjoy!


  1. Great suggestions! But the one that caught my eye was the 'sinful' one--adding sugar AND salt to your popcorn!! I LOVE sweat and salty at the same time. Have you tried salt chocolate??

    Fun blog! Im an expat too :)

  2. OMG. I just caught glimpse of my comment as I pressed 'post comment': I love 'sweat' and salty? Uhmmm. No. I think you can guess what I meant but just for the record--sweet and salty please!!! ;)

  3. Hahah! Yes! Sweet and salty popcorn is great - you can get it at most movie theatres here. It's like kettle corn from the States... its so delish! Welcome, expat!

  4. Great post! My favorite website for healthy snack ideas is

  5. my two go-to "healthy" snacks are:

    cadbury's hot chocolate (made with water not milk) - 2 tbs are about 125 cals, and it's perfect for when you have a craving for something sweet!

    otherwise I turn to hard-boiled eggs. two large hard-boiled eggs are only 150 calories (ish, I think) and they keep you full and have tons o' protein.

    LOVE dried apricots!