Now I don’t know about you, but I am a champion snacker/grazer whatever you want to call it. As my roommate will tell you, my most common response when she asks if I’ve had dinner is “Kind of, I’ve been snacking.” And there’s nothing wrong with snacking! In fact, studies show that it’s better for your body and energy to graze than gorge yourself on large meals. However, this rationale only holds true if your snacks are actually healthy too *cough cough* not stuffing your face on sweets as is my kryptonite (see my post on “10 things I learned from 10 days of no sugar, dairy or gluten”). So, without further ado I thought I’d share three of my favorite snacks that are healthier (but still delicious in their own right!) versions of some of my guilty food pleasures …
1) Cookie dough and candy makeovers – Protein balls
It’s that time again after lunch or dinner (or anytime really?) that the sweet tooth fairy arrives. What do you reach for? I’ve been experimenting with protein balls because I love the idea of a bite of something that will satisfy my sweet tooth cravings without giving me a sugar spike and crash. Enter protein balls. Now what I especially like about these (as you’ll see in all the snack ideas to follow) is their versatility and the “forgiveness factor.” I can’t bake to save my life because following a precise recipe gives me a headache ha ha. Here you can eyeball and get creative to your heart’s desire! Base recipe:
1 cup nut butter
½ cup protein powder of course (I love a good plant based option like the Juice Plus Vanilla Complete)
½ cup rolled oats
¼ cup honey (or agave or maple syrup and I’ve even had success substituting with mashed banana here for sweetness and binding help)
Add-ins (this is where it gets fun!): cocoa powder, carob chips, shredded coconut, dried fruit (dates, raisons, cranberries, and dried apples and cherries are all great)
2) Kettle corn popcorn makeover – the magic of agave, coconut oil and nutritional yeast
I’m a popcorn fiend, no ifs ands or buts about it. I can’t eat it too often with my TMJ jaw problem but when I do it’s all out on the butter … or the extra caramel goodness kettle corn mixes. Of course, while popcorn itself can be a great snack, all that sugary and especially artificial stuff is not so good for you. So the other day I popped some good ole plain popcorn and then added my own concoction of a little organic virgin coconut oil, agave and nutritional yeast (a vegan cheese supplement that tastes amazing and is a nutritional powerhouse) and boy was it good. So good, in fact, my roommate tried a bite, grabbed the bowl and insisted I go make more. Coconut oil, agave, and nutritional yeast are all to taste. For the coconut oil and agave, I just melted those together and then poured on top of the popcorn and sprinkled generously with nutritional yeast after. And feel free to get creative here too! A little coconut oil and nutritional yeast without the agave would make a great cheddar popcorn substitute.
3) Ice cream makeover – banana “nice” cream
Ice cream and frozen yogurt are one of my absolute favorite things in the world. Are they good for me to eat all the time? Noooo … the sugar content alone should make me reconsider. So when I came across the idea of “ice cream” made of bananas, I had to try it! Ladies and gentlemen, this is pure magic and so versatile. How does this work? Simply stick your frozen banana chunks in the blender along with whatever else you’d like and blend! Hard to believe, but the bananas will form an amazing creamy soft serve consistency. Try it.
Flavor ideas are endless.
Chocolate peanut (cocoa powder and natural peanut butter)
Lemon berry (lemon extract is divine here alone with whatever frozen berries your heart desires) Snickerdoodle (cinnamon and vanilla extract)
Chocolate peppermint (cocoa powder and peppermint extract), and
Chocolate cherry (frozen cherries and cocoa powder) to name a few so get creative!
I’ll even add a vanilla plant based protein powder to the mix for an extra health kick.
What are your favorite healthy (yet delicious) snacks? Share in the comments below.