January 09, 2012

Healthy Snacks Ideas, Gripes, and a Giveaway!

I Won't Even Speculate As To What Strange Ritual Is Going On Here.
Photo: Plan 59

Hungry... but it's not quite mealtime yet?

Some folks have a "no snacking between meals" policy. If that's part of your particular dietary religion, then so sorry!  You'll have to suck it up, distract yourself, and wait until the clock tells you it's time to eat again.  Just try not to think of any of sweet or salty or crispy or creamy or rich or flavorful favorites you might have--you know, those delicious treats you absolutely love that would taste so so good right now if only it were the right time of day?  Yeah, just don't think about them or imagine yourself enjoying them, because how frustrating would that be when you can't have any?

Hey, did that help? You're welcome!

Many of us, however, embrace snacking--especially me! I am a big oinky unrestrained gluttonous pig an enthusiastic consumer of all kinds of foods (though mostly healthy).   I figure if I'm hungry, and an official meal is not imminent, then hell, it's time for me to forage up a snack.

What's my biggest gripe about snacking?

It's the lack of healthy convenient options! Most packaged or fast-food snacks are Evil, and yet I'm lazy, and I sometimes like to leave my house.  You would think with the bazillions of dollars the food and restaurant industry rakes in, there would be a few more options for us healthy types, wouldn't you?  Yet despite the claims on labels and menus, most of the snack items marketed as "healthy" are pure crap.

Wouldn't it be nice if say, the vending machine in your office was packed full of healthier options than  chips and candy bars?  Well, turns out there's a company trying to do that, called HUMAN. Annabel from Feed Me, I’m Cranky told me about their attempts to improve the sad state of snacking in workplaces and schools around the country. And they're hosting a giveaway!

So, let's talk snacks... and who knows, perhaps you may win a gift pack of healthy snacks, along with a mighty cool T-shirt!

What Does Healthy Snacking Even Mean?

Of course everyone has a different idea of what "healthy" is.

And hey, just for fun, let's let the Vegans and the Primal folks and the Weight Watchers all duke it out:

Which snack is the Most Evil and which is the Most Acceptable?

(a) A serving of fried chicken skins;
(b) A Krispy Kreme Fruit Pie; or
(c) A 140 calorie serving of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Sundae?

As the links and the associated dietary agendas will confirm, all of these snacks are either A-OK, or Absolutely Forbidden, depending on which camp you're in.  So let's disabuse ourselves of notion of a universal solution, shall we?

But heck, since it's my blog and all, here are some of my very personal and arbitrary standards for healthy snacking. Please pass on your own better ideas down in the comments!

Crabby's Personal Snacking Principles:

1. The snack item should not contain more hundreds-of-calories than there are hours before the next meal.

Whoa, that sounds like crazytalk doesn't it? What I mean is, 100 calories buys me about an hour before I'm hungry again. If I've got 2 hours until the next meal, my snack probably shouldn't be over 200 calories.

2. The snack should contain at least some protein and fiber, and ideally it should not have a high glycemic load. Bonus points if vegetables are involved. This increases satiety, nutrition, and contributes to a pleasant sense of smugness.

3. The snack should ideally be made entirely of organic local whole foods that were cultivated, prepared and delivered by cheerful well-compensated individuals in inspiring, life-affirming workplaces. But failing that, I'd at least like to avoid toxic snacks full of transfats and known carcinogens, and I'd like to minimize sodium, sugar, refined grains, gratuitous and non-nutritive calories, and artificial flavorings and colorings. (Though I do have a sweet tooth and thus somehow rationalize the use of sucralose, stevia, and erythritol. Whatever.)

4. The snack should not taste crappy.

5. However, the snack also can't taste too delicious unless portion control measures are in place.

(For example, I can easily consume an entire days worth of calories in 10 minutes eating trail mix, and still be sniffing around the cupboards looking for more. Even the healthiest of dried fruit and nut combos can be a nutritional disaster unless I throw a reasonable amount in a baggie and march my ass straight out the door).

A Few Healthy Snack Ideas

See how small this list is? That's 'cause I need help! If you have some good ideas or links to blog posts or other resources for healthy snacks, please put them in the comments and I'll try to add them.

  • Raw Veggies with Healthy Dip (hummus, guacamole, yogurt-based dips etc)
  • Canned wild salmon (mushed with a bit of goat cheese or mayo and onion). (Trader Joe's is rumored to have bpa free linings, even if they don't promote it).
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Meat or fish jerky (naturally preserved, not the junk-food kind)
  • Fruit!
  • Nuts
  • Yogurt without a bunch of sugar added
  • Veggie chips: kale, sweet potato, etc. (And by that I don't mean potato or corn or rice chips flavored with veggies, but actual vegetable chips. These can be hard to find unless you make 'em yourself or pay the folks at Brad's Raw Chips to fix some up for you).
  • Seaweed snacks (my current obsession; I also get these from TJ's).
  • Popcorn
  • Whole grain crackers with meat or cheese or a sensible spread or dip
  • Almond or peanut butter and bananas
  • Dark chocolate
  • A Very Small Plate of Last Night's Leftovers

See? I need help here!

So What's The Deal With the Vending Machines and the Giveaway?

So apparently the HUMANs are trying to get their vending machines in more places.  They're offering to pay folks to find places like schools, gyms, or corporate locations that might be up for a healthier vending machine option. You fill out a referral form, and if they end up placing a machine there, you get $250.00.

Also, in order to help publicize their efforts, they're giving away "a sample pack of some of the items we sell in our machines, including Larabars, Clif Z Bars, Zico Coconut Water and more, as well as a HUMAN-branded t-shirt." Which is apparently and ideal gift for any headless friends or relatives you have who need cute clothing items!

They also have a guys-style T-shirt available.

So if you'd like to enter, just leave a comment below (a healthy snack idea would be nice, but not mandatory).  We'll hold the random drawing in a week.  (Note: this is yet another giveaway that requires a U.S. mailing address, sorry about that!)

And do remember to check back; if you win, you need to claim your prize before the end of the day on Wednesday January 18th or there will be a new drawing.

Good luck!

So, anyone have any thoughts, gripes, or healthy snack ideas? I'm suddenly very hungry!


  1. I like raw carrot sticks. Healthy, tasty, and a satisfying crunch. I don't use a veggie dip.
    Apple slices.
    Peanut butter on unsalted crackers works, too.
    Dark chocolate is good.
    All this sounds very healthy 'n' all, but if there are potato chips in the house, well, they're my default setting.

  2. Usually a small amount of dark chocolate about 3:30 makes me feel better. I said "small", but it can get out of control real fast......

  3. I used to go for chocolate to combat the late-afternoon slump. Who'd have guessed -- turns out an apple works just as well!

  4. Sliced tomatoes and cucumber with just a touch of salt and pepper, or a slice of Ezekiel bread with a spoonful of olive oil to dip it in. A spoonful of cashew nut butter will hold me out for quite a while.

  5. My favorite snack- a piece of salmon jerky!
    I work on keeping the "bad" snacks out of the house or I will hunt them down ( anything the s.o. brings home and doesn't hide!)

  6. ... and I thought I was the only one eating those seaweed snacks!:)

  7. I love nuts, fruit, carrot sticks, dark chocolate. Oh and wine is a great night time "snack".

  8. I love crunchy peanut butter on apple wedges. If I'm not especially hungry and I'm just trying to keep the snacking at bay, I'll chew gum.

    Please enter me in the draw and if my name comes up, please pass it along to MessyMimi, if that's okay.

  9. Great, now I'm starving. My go-to snack is popcorn but I have to concentrate on portion control (no, the entire bag is not one serving) (who knew?). Plain fruit and veggies always leave me hungrier than when I started, but often snacking is a mental thing and not a physical need for me so the 80-100 calories keep my body from crashing before a meal and the chewiness/crunchiness keep my brain occupied.

  10. I like to snack on carrots and apples. They are sweet and help with my terrible sweet tooth. I also like a small piece of dark chocolate.

  11. i'm a big fan of dark chocolate or a handful of almonds - or maybe both at the same time! worlds collide!

  12. I love nutella spread across a thick homemade piece of bread...oh wait you wanted healthy snack. Er Um...lets see...carrot sticks I love, apple slices with almond butter and just recently my mom bought a microwave chip maker from me and last week we made apple chips just from slicing apples and doing them up in the microwave. Heck of a lot cheaper than buying the prepackaged stuff.

  13. I keep a container of raw almonds and dried cranberries in my desk.
    A few of each fills me up and satisfies me when I am hungry and can't keep myself away.
    Apples rock too.

  14. One of my favourites is a tomato chopped into chunks, with a little minced garlic, salt and olive oil mixed in. You can even add a couple of chopped olives for extra zing... Delicious with a piece of crispbread!

  15. I am not a snacker nor do I suggest it, but that said, if someone is staying healthy and fit eating constantly for 24/7 I wouldn't tell them to change. After all, it works for my horse :-)

    Seriously, the biggest problem I see with snacking is that eating so many meals induces more chances for error in underestimating calorie consumption.

  16. Those are some pretty good snack rules, and they mimic what I try and do as well.

    Some of your snack ideas already hit mine, but I like grape tomatoes and red bell peppers for a snack.

  17. One of the few snacks that actually stops my food cravings is a handfull of lightly toasted mixed uts. I toast them myself so I know that they don't have any added salt or other ingredients

  18. I love a low-fat cheese stick and apple slices :)

  19. I like a dried plum with almonds.

    The rule about the estimated time before meal and the hundreds of calories is great.

    I'm going to try the seaweed snacks. Looked at them in TJs during my last visit.

  20. Yeah, popcorn is my preference. I also like a reasonably healthy granola bar, though those can be hard to find. Cocoa-dusted almonds are yummy. A small bowl of cereal. A spoonful of extra-crunchy peanut butter. Hummus and pretzels. Veggies and Greek yogurt-based dip.

    We don't have a vending machine at work at all, which is probably better than having a junky one. But a healthy vending machine actually might be kinda cool to have...

  21. 1st - you suck with your Trader Joe's temptations. Seeing as there is no TJ's within more hundreds of miles than I care to think about.

    2nd - my snack of choice - PB on apples. Or string cheese and pistachios. (The effort to eat these two extends the snacking time without extending calories.) But I'm a sucker for anything chocolate.

    3rd - No. Way. I am sending a link to HUMAN to my boss right now. (Who is a male 3xiron man contender but wolfs down Larabars like crazy. I guess he's in touch with his feminine side.) We, as a company, are of course very into sustainable food and healthy options. I suspect we may be VERY interested in this.

  22. I need to start eating healthy snacks, before my health get its toll on me.. Thanks for sharing these tips. :)

  23. Salmon jerky? must investigate. I never liked jerky: the few times I tasted any it tasted of salt. Just salt. Thrilling. But I've recently had some home made venison jerky that is wonderful.

    I'm just going to hang out and try to understand other people's metabolisms. I don't snack, because once I start eating I want to keep eating until I've had a full meal and then some. If I get hungry, it's because it's time for a meal.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  24. I like snacks that take a little time to chew so it feels like I'm getting more-because it takes longer to consume. If I'm at home I like to make a portion of oatmeal and add a tablespoon of natural peanut butter. It's yum-o and it takes a while to finish the bowl.

  25. I usually default to hummus & baby carrots or a mini clif bar!

    xmeliss182x (at) yahoo (dot) com

  26. My healthy snacks are usually Larabars or yogurt with nut butter.

  27. My number one choice is probably a tie between banana and peanut butter or peanut butter filled pretzels!

    I love chocolate or a sugar treat too.

    Sometimes need a sandwich or something more.

    Thanks for hosting this!

  28. One of my favorite snacks is what I call blueberry walnut yogurt but I actually eat it for breakfast or lunch at times as well. Here is the link to the recipe - http://www.healthymomsexywife.com/2011/12/recipe-blueberry-walnut-yogurt.html

  29. These are lovely recipes for having healthy snacks.Though a also a big fan of Potato chips at home but your ideas are pushing me to try these snacks once.Thanks a lot.
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  30. raspberries with a tiny bit of melted dark chocolate drizzled over the top. yum!

  31. I am not too exciting.... I eat mini meals so I don't really do "snacks" but consider some of those snacks a mini meal.. but I do love a portion size of almonds or a half of my homemade protein bar/muffin or a couple slices of low sodium, no nitrate turkey meat or portion control almond or no salt PB... but most of the rest is just a mini meal & similar to what you eat! ;-)

  32. String or cottage cheese pack a protien wallop for less than 100 calories!

  33. These are all such great ideas. I have been looking for exciting new snacks and your informed followers do not disappoint. thanks for the suggestions.

  34. Love all these snack ideas! I don't snack (most of the time, but with holiday left-overs STILL in the house, I've been eating some home-made poppycock from my SIL)

  35. I love to snack on kale chips. Yum!

    larkspurpurple (at) gmail.com

  36. I recently discovered brown rice cakes - they have no other ingredients, don't know how they stick together - but they make a great vehicle for nut butters, soft cheese, other spreads...More filling than crackers

  37. I like popcorn usually, but, a slice of cheese with some almonds is nice.

  38. sugar snap peas or pickles wrapped in lunchmeat

  39. Hi, interesting post. I have been wondering about this topic, so thanks for posting. I’ll definitely be subscribing to your site. Keep up the good posts

  40. Long-time lurker here with an inspiration! How about combining the seaweed snack w/the salmon jerky for a well-rounded, dry-sushi type thing.

  41. Love me some almonds, walnuts, and pistachios and an apple or a red pepper eaten like an apple - or just a protein drink.

  42. LOVED reading this post!!! I can relate to all of it (but it did make me hungry and thinking about snacking!!!) I'm ALWAYS on one diet or another and never 100% successful, but I try....I do like low fat cheese sticks in the middle of the day to take the edge off. Give it a try. You can always pretend that its pizza.....!

  43. Just try eating some fresh veggies for snacking on they really do help.
    losing body fat

  44. One of my fave snacks is Fiber One Cereal (the original). I eat it straight from the box dry. It is sweet and crunchy and gives me my daily quota of fiber.

  45. I work at an adventure program for youths, and one of the most popular snacks we serve is carrots or sugar snap peas and hummus. We have other junk food snacks too - smartfood, fruit snacks, cheezits, but we easily go through a container of hummus a day.

  46. I'm a cereal snacker. A small bowl will kill my appetite for hours.

  47. Almonds are my go-to snack. They are delicious, crunchy and satisfying (especially with a few dark choc. chips tossed in!) If not available (usually because I've eaten them all) I go for a cheese stick or apple and peanut butter. I work in a middle school and I'd love for a healthy snacks vending machine to be added!

  48. I love a good apple with the skin pealed, a nice soft pear or a bucket of kfc bucket O fried fat. OK you got me i don't really like the apple or the pear LOL

  49. homemade kale chips, seed and veggie juice fiber and kelp crackers, and kombucha; carrots and apples out of hand; pumpkin seeds; baby greens; hummus and broccoli; avocado and tabasco right out of the skin; cuban black beans with plain yogurt; homemade sauerkraut; Mountain View High School in Mountain View, California, or Tam High in Mill Valley, California could use a healthy snack machine, yum! For my son, almond butter and fruit on homemade whole grain organic waffles, deviled eggs, yogurt and maple syrup .

  50. I, like everyone else enjoy a healthy snack, but I recently stumbled upon Fullbar and their healthy snacks. Not only do they taste great, they allowed me to lose weight by me having more portion control over my meals. I highly recommend them. :-)

  51. I like to eat Chobani Greek yogurt and Raw Almonds, great snack when physically active. Workout Snacks

  52. Any type of nuts, but especially almonds is my go-to snack nowadays. I used to eat string cheese too, but found that it was just too many extra calories that I just didn't need. Try dipping the almonds in hummus, it's actually delicious!


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