Healthy + Simple Snacks

I had a reader request that I do a post on easy and healthy snacks / meals and I was so excited to see this request come in! Nutrition is a huge passion of mine and I could seriously talk about this all day! I'm going to split this into two posts -- one for meals and one for snacks to avoid this getting too lengthy! 

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I also want to share a bit of background info about how my diet has changed throughout the years -- however, if you're just here for the snacks (I don't blame you!), feel free to skip to the second half of this post.

I was a 90s kid, which meant we ate the typical 90s fad diet -- lots of processed foods and low-fat everything. Breakfasts were usually sugary cereal during the school week and then my mom would usually make French toast, pancakes / waffles, eggs, etc. on the weekends. I brought a lunch from home most of the time and it usually consisted of a jelly sandwich on white bread (I was super picky and didn't like PB on my sandwiches), pretzels or crackers (Cheez-Its, Goldfish, etc.), a Yoplait yogurt, and maybe a couple Oreos or some grapes -- this was washed down with a Hi-C juice box every day. The best day ever was when I'd open my lunchbox and there would be a pizza Lunchable in there -- score! We ate dinner each night as a family -- I remember that things like tator tot hotdish, chow mein, Hamburger Helper, and spaghetti being regular items on the menu. 

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Just for fun, here's a pic of me in 1st grade -- definitely rocking those 90s bangs!

Snacks were usually some sort of fruit snack, Chex mix, etc. after school. My absolute favorite after school snack was apples dipped in caramel sauce, which my mom usually made for us in the fall. I also remember eating a bowl of ice cream almost every evening before bed. As I'm typing this out, I'm realizing all I ate as a kid was sugar -- it's a miracle I didn't become diabetic by the 6th grade.

Fast forward to college -- I ate a lot of junk because hello, meal plan with tons of options and there was also a food court type place in the bottom level of the dorms that I lived in. This place served chicken strips, pizza, quesadillas, and a million types of ice cream treats -- plus it was all "free" because all you did was swipe your student ID to use your meal plan flex dollars. This was all fun and games until your new jeans feel a little snug.

I started eating healthier my sophomore year when I lived off campus (I lived with my grandpa and step-grandma and it was SO nice for my introverted (at the time) heart.) The dorm life was not my fave -- so much drama and no personal space. I lived at home my junior semester (I graduated early but that's a story for another day), and then got an apartment with a friend after I graduated that December. I started cooking more but didn't really have a concept of what was healthy or not. It wasn't until the following year that I started reading up on nutrition and began eating a clean and balanced diet.

This diet has evolved to what I eat today -- which is 90/10 clean eating. What this means is that 90% of the time my diet consists of whole, unprocessed foods, while 10% consists of treats (because hey, we all need an Oreo or four every now and then!). I stopped eating red meat in high school because the taste / texture bothered me and haven't eaten it since. I went vegetarian for the past year or two, but have recently brought chicken, turkey, and fish back into my diet.

Whew, that might be more than you ever wanted to know about my diet! Let's move on to some of my favorite healthy + simple snacks. I've always been such a snacker and tend to eat 5-6 smaller meals per day verses three larger meals.

Below are some of my favorites snacks that are in heavy rotation! 

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Energy Bites
I started making these last summer and I'm obsessed! They're cheaper and healthier than buying granola bars and it's so easy to switch up the recipe. Usually I stick with a PB, oats, honey, flax, chocolate chips version, but this week I decided to change things up a bit and did almond butter, shredded unsweetened coconut, peppermint extract, cocoa powder, oats, and honey.

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Fruit
I'd say about 75-80 percent of our weekly groceries consist of produce -- fresh and frozen are what we usually pick up (canned foods aren't my favorite).

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Veggies
I'm a million times more likely to eat veggies if they're already washed and cut -- it feels too daunting when you're starving to open the fridge and see the package of celery in there knowing it needs to be washed and cut. I also love pickles + olives, so a lot of times I'll throw a few of those in there as well. I prep a HUGE container of these every Sunday so all I have to do is grab a handful and toss it in a bowl or a little container to take with me.

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Banana + PB
This is a snack that never gets old -- I just slice up a banana and add a dollop of peanut butter. If I'm extra hungry, I'll put it on a piece of toasted Dave's Killer Bread or Ezekiel bread.

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Yogurt
I eat both the plain Greek variety and these fun little flavored cups, which have a good amount of sugar, but I figure that if this is the worst thing I'm eating all day, I'm doing okay!

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Homemade Popcorn
This has been a favorite of mine ever since I was a kid -- we use a popcorn maker similar to this one and it's super easy to make popcorn in the microwave (no oil needed!). I almost always top it with lots of pink Himalayan sea salt and melted butter.

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Nuts
We buy the big bags of pistachios and roasted almonds from Costco and they're the perfect snack! 

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Smoothies + Protein Shakes
These have endless combos -- some of my faves are:

  • Frozen strawberries + banana + almond milk
  • PB + chocolate whey protein + almond milk + ice
  • This mocha powder + chocolate whey protein + almond milk + ice
  • Frozen triple berry blend + splash of OJ + half of a banana + almond milk + spinach
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Healthy Dips
I love making homemade hummus, guac, or tzatziki dip for veggies! Definitely an easy way to sneak in some extra fat or protein! 

What are some of your favorite snacks?
Any topics you'd like me to do a blog post about?