With the weather changing to chillier & the evenings getting darker, your inner snack attack cravings may be in full gear… Calm them with these suggestions!
We’ve all been there: you’re eating well, cooking healthy foods, not eating out much, and generally sticking to your healthy diet. And then, a craving strikes.
Whether you’ve got a sweet tooth or always want salty snacks, chances are when that craving strikes, you’re going to reach for something easy to grab, like junk food. While anything in moderation can be healthy, when we’re in the throes of a craving, we’re not making the most rational decisions.
So, instead of keeping your favorite junk food in the house, keep these healthy snacks on hand so you have a tool to handle your cravings.
Snack Categories: What Type of Food Are You Craving?!
Sometimes, the only thing that will satisfy a craving is the right mouthfeel. When you’re craving crunch, it can be easy to reach for a crunchy cookie, potato chips, or some crackers. Here are some ideas for crunchy yet healthy alternatives…
Apples are a wonderful crunchy and filling alternative when you’re craving that crunch! An apple provides plenty of sweetness as well as plenty of texture in every bite. Because the sugar in an apple is paired with the fruit’s natural fiber (especially when you eat the skin) you also won’t get a blood sugar spike.
Pro Tip: Make a homemade dip for your apple slices by combining a scoop of your favorite flavor meal replacement shake powder with some Greek yogurt and mixing!
If you just can’t live without the crunch of chips, vegetable chips are a healthier option. Vegetable chips are made from vegetables such as seaweed, kale, parsnips, and other vegetables to give a low-calorie crunchy option other than potato chips.
You can make veggie chips yourself at home or buy one of the premade versions at the grocery store. Just be sure to read the nutrition facts and ingredients label to make sure you’re getting a truly healthy option.
Vegetables in Hummus
Sometimes a craving is just because you’re bored or feeling emotional, but other times, you’re actually hungry. If you’re hungry between meals and craving something crunchy, one of the best options you can reach for are vegetables and hummus.
You can dip carrots, celery, cauliflower, broccoli, or any other veggie you love into hummus. Hummus is a high-protein, healthy dip made from chickpeas, garlic, and olive oil. You can make your own fresh or buy it at the grocery store to keep on hand for those cravings.
Speaking of chickpeas, another great snack option for when you’re craving something crunchy are oven-roasted chickpeas. You can make these ahead of time and snack on them for the rest of the week.
The best part about oven-roasted chickpeas is that you can flavor them with whatever spices you have on hand or are craving at the time. A couple of spice mixture ideas include:
- Salt and pepper
- Chili and dried lime or lemon
- Smoked paprika and cumin
- Cinnamon and sugar
- Turmeric and ginger
You can toss your roasted chickpeas in any flavoring you like. And, a bonus for this snack is that chickpeas are high in protein, so it will leave you feeling satisfied and full.
While many people complain about having a sweet tooth, the rest of us just crave salty snacks. Most salty snacks are high-calorie and are cooked in oil, so they’re not the best choice for when you’re trying to eat healthy. But, there are some alternatives for when you’re craving that salty flavor but don’t want to reach for the bag of potato chips.
If you’re looking for a salty snack that’s low-calorie, popcorn is the perfect choice. A 3-cup serving of air-popped popcorn is just over 100 calories. Popcorn can give you plenty to snack on and to kick that salty craving. If you plan on buying microwave popcorn, be sure to read the ingredients list to know what you’re buying — some versions are healthier than others.
A great topping for low-calorie popcorn is brewer’s yeast also known as nutritional yeast. Yeast adds a salty, umami flavor to popcorn and has some B vitamins and protein, so adds a little nutrition to your snack.
Nuts, Seeds, or Nut Butter
When you’re craving a salty snack, reach for some salted seeds, nuts, or a low-sugar nut butter. When it comes to seeds and nuts, be sure to watch your portion size. Both seeds and nuts are calorie-dense, so it’s smart to pour them into a small bowl instead of eating out of the container.
Edamame is a wonderful, high-protein, high-fiber, and low-calorie snack. If you’re trying to curb a salty craving, go for edamame in the shell. These can be boiled and then sprinkled with sea salt so that you get a little salt bomb as you bite the edamame out of their shells.
Homemade Kale Chips
Kale chips are a double-bonus, they’re salty and healthy. Kale chips are baked in the oven with low heat. To make kale chips, you’ll use a little olive oil to massage the kale, then spread out on a baking sheet, and pop into the oven. After baking, you get healthy, leafy greens that crunch like salty chips.
Sugar and sweets has to be one of the oldest cravings in the books. If you’re looking for something to replace processed sweets when you get a craving, try out these healthy snack options.
When the craving for something sweet strikes, fresh fruit is a wonderful alternative. Fruit is full of naturally-occurring sugar and plenty of sweetness. The difference with fruit is that it’s also full of fiber, which prevents sugar highs and crashes.
If you want to swap fresh fruit for processed sweets for your next sugar craving, be sure to keep prepared or easy-to-eat fruit visible in your pantry and fridge. Having prepared, visible fruit means you’re much more likely to reach for it when a craving strikes.
A wonderful snack substitute when you’re craving something sweet is hot tea. Find a sweet-flavored tea that you like and keep it on hand for when the craving strikes. Check your local store for fruit-flavored teas that are unsweetened. The warmth of tea can help you to feel full while also satisfying your craving for something sweet tasting.
Dates are a type of stone fruit, like peaches and apricots. You’ll most often find dates dried and pitted. While this fruit does have high sugar content, it’s also high in fiber, potassium, iron, and other antioxidants. When you’re looking for something sweet, a couple of dates can be just the thing to answer your craving.
Homemade Fruit Smoothie
If you don’t love eating fruit but want something sweet to curb your cravings, you can turn your fruit into a homemade smoothie. You can make a healthy smoothie using frozen fruit, some high-protein yogurt, and a protein or meal replacement shake powder. When made right, a smoothie can be sweet, satisfying, and healthy. Plus, highly-nutritious meal replacement shakes are a pantry essential!
Fried Food and Bread
Whether you’re craving toast, french fries, or a big pile of pasta, there’s a healthy alternative to these carb-filled foods.
Whole Wheat, Seeded Toast with Avocado
If you’re craving carbs, it’s ok to answer that need, but go for a healthier option. Swap out refined white bread, for a seeded, whole wheat option. This type of bread has a lot more nutrients and will keep you feeling full, longer.
Bonus points for topping it with the healthy fat of an avocado!
Air Fryer Sweet Potato Fries
If french fries are one of your fried food favorites, here’s an easy, healthy swap you can make when the craving strikes: air fryer sweet potato fries.
Making fries out of sweet potatoes gives you more nutritional value and a lower-carb alternative. When you cook in the air fryer, you use very little oil, making these a great alternative for when you’re craving french fries. And, you can often get pre-cut sweet potato fries in your grocery store’s frozen section.
Whole Wheat Pita Pizza
There’s nothing quite like a fresh slice of pizza. If you’re feeling the craving for pizza, you can make a healthy swap with DIY, whole wheat pita pizzas that you can make right at home.
Your whole wheat pita acts as your pizza crust, which you can top with anything you like. Add some sauce, your favorite toppings, cheese, and then toss into the oven to bake and get crispy.
Savory Oatmeal — Taco Style
While most people think of oatmeal as a sweet breakfast food, it doesn’t necessarily have to be. If you’re craving the umami flavor of a taco, but don’t want all the calories, try out some savory, taco-style oats.
Savory oats are simple to make and provide you with a good source of soluble fiber, which will leave you feeling full and satiated. Make savory oats by boiling the oats with water and bouillon or chicken broth. Once the oats have absorbed the water, stir in some shredded cheese and taco seasoning.
When you’re trying to eat healthy foods and make good choices, it can be difficult to stick to your plan when you’ve got a craving for some junk food. While everything can be healthy in moderation, when the craving strikes, swap in one of these healthy snack alternatives to help you stick to your plan!