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Healthy Snack Ideas

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Smarter Snack Ideas

When the munchies hit at 3 p.m. what do you do? Do you leave your desk and head to the vending machine? Does the thought of the approaching swimsuit season leave you caught between hunger and dread?

At some point during the day -- and often, multiple points -- most people crave a snack. It's easy to grab a snack that's gratifying but high in fat, calories, cholesterol or sodium -- and low on nutritional value.

The desire for healthy snacks (or at least less unhealthy snacks) is not a new one. What is new, however, is the emerging mindset that packing more for the punch, or doing more with less, can allow people to have their snacks and eat them, too. With a few lifestyle adjustments, the 3 p.m. snack -- or the mid-morning or late night snack, for that matter -- can continue.

Enjoy the Experience

To gain more from your snacking experience, go for nutrient-dense snacks that are enhanced with a greater amount of better-for-you ingredients. If you have an extra apple or some celery stalks on hand, take advantage of built-in nutrients and pull them out of the refrigerator.

If you are in the mood for a bag of munchies to satisfy your cravings, remember that today's bagged snacks come in a wide range of better-for-you varieties. Snyder's of Hanover, for instance, offers products like multigrain pretzels, chips, and puffs, and recently developed a dedicated EatSmart line of better-for-you snacks that fall into the nutrient-dense category.

Indeed, beyond traditional salty snacks made with whole grains, many bagged snacks today are made with non-traditional snack food ingredients. You can actually increase your intake of vegetables with products like vegetable-based crisps. EatSmart Veggie Crisps and Soy Crisps, for example, are made from real potatoes, tomatoes, spinach and soy.

Make Bold Choices

Nutritionists and foodies alike can attest to the fact that eating more flavorful food lends a certain satisfaction to the eating experience. Those who eat boldly flavored snacks may be less likely to over-consume and can take their time to enjoy how the food tastes.

Recognizing that bold flavors enhance the eating experience, manufacturers are responding with more intense and gourmet flavor profiles for snacks, such as pesto, parmesan, chipotle peppers and fire-roasted tomatoes, among many others.

A quick glance at a supermarket shelf in the snacking section supports the notion that consumers are seeking more unique flavors for snacks. Even the most popular chips come in a broader range of flavors beyond traditional cheese, ranch or sour cream and onion, while crackers are also topped with everything from cracked black pepper to bits of rosemary. Snyder's EatSmart All Natural CheddAirs and Veggie Crisps include a variety of bold flavors you're sure to enjoy.

Go Natural

For those looking to maximize their snacking experience, all-natural snacks offer an added benefit of "clean" labels, namely, with fewer preservatives and artificial ingredients. Again, supermarkets and restaurants are offering more natural and organic products, in response to growing customer demand.

Looking for "all natural" or "organic" wording on packaged snacks and taking a few seconds to read the label is an assurance that what goes into snacks doesn't have to be unpronounceable.

Size Matters

Mindless eating, particularly snacking with little thought of controlling intake, is where a lot of people get into trouble. It may not seem like it when we're eating while working, texting or watching TV, but it's very quick and easy to overdo it.

To make it easier on consumers, snack food providers continue to introduce portion-controlled packaging, through 100-calorie packs and snack size products. Those items, ranging from chips to pretzels to snack cakes, are specifically designed to help people keep track of their snacking and stick to a pre-planned intake.

Pretty soon there won't be an excuse not to snack, given all of the available options. Better-for-you snacking fits into just about any lifestyle - and, in turn, can help ensure a better fit into that swimsuit.