7 “Unusual” But Healthy Snack Options Beyond Apples and Almond Butter : Exclusive Renegade Health Article

Wednesday May 16 | BY |
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Is your normal healthy snack looking a little boring? Try these new ideas.

Snacking has become a big deal in today’s modern life. According to studies and surveys, people are snacking more than they used to decades ago, and they’re snacking more often throughout the day. Between 1977-78 and 2007-08, those who snacked on any given day increased from 59 percent to 90 percent. In 2007-08, about two-thirds of adults snacked two or more times a day, whereas in 1977-78, most snacked only once or not at all.

Is all this snacking helping or hurting us? There is evidence on both sides of the fence. Some studies show that snacking is contributing to our obesity epidemic. Research from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that children eat snacks almost three times a day that are high in calories and low in nutrition. A second study found that Americans are consuming more calories today than they did in the 1970s, and that portion size and snacking are the biggest factors responsible for the change.

Other studies, however, have shown that snacking is beneficial for managing weight, as it helps control appetite and prevent overeating at meals. Some have found that snacking can help improve recovery from exercise, and add good-for-you nutrients to the diet.

How to Enjoy Snacks Without Gaining Weight
Research points to two key factors:

  1. Snack on healthy foods
  2. Control portion sizes at regular meals

When managed correctly, snacking can contribute to a healthy, nutritious diet. If you’re struggling with coming up with healthy snacks, however, and you’re growing tired of apples and almond butter on whole-wheat toast, you may find it more difficult to avoid that afternoon piece of cake or midnight brownie. Here are some “unusual” snacks that are still nutritious and may give you the variety you’re looking for.

7 Unusual but Healthy Snack Ideas

  1. Mini Sweet Peppers: You’ve probably already tried mini carrots, sugar snap peas, and grape tomatoes. If you can find them, try mini sweet peppers. A serving (about 3) delivers just 30 calories, but gives you about a third of a day’s vitamin A and nearly three day’s worth of vitamin C. You can also try dipping htem in hummus or tzatziki, or build a salad with mini peppers, tomatoes, cucumber, and diced red onion.
  2. Apricot Canapes: Different, but full of antioxidants and calcium. Cut dried apricots in half, sprinkle with chopped, shelled pistachios, drizzle with a little honey, and top it all off with a sprinkle of pepper.
  3. Avocado Tea Sandwiches: Combine a little vegan mayonnaise, lemon juice, and pepper in a small bowl, then thinly spread on thin wheat bread. Top with a couple slices of cucumber, and sliced ripe avocado. So good and so good for you!
  4. Roasted Grapes: Yep, you can throw these flavonoid-rich fruits into the oven. Choose dark grapes, take them off the vine, preheat the oven to 325, put the grapes in several layers in a baking dish, and cook for 25-30 minutes or until some of the grapes start to pop. Enjoy warm or at room temperature sprinkled with a little cinnamon.
  5. Veggie Kebobs: You can make a healthy kebob out of just about anything and find it fun to eat. Try cubes of grape tomatoes, sliced carrots, peppers, and cucumbers, and dip in a pesto or peach salsa dip, or go for fresh or dried fruit stacked one after the other. You can experiment and come up with your own great combinations. For a sweet twist, dip in melted dark chocolate.
  6. Roasted Chickpeas: Rinse the chickpeas, cover with water 2 inches above the level of beans and let soak overnight. Drain and rinse, put in a pot with enough water to cover and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat, add 1 ½ tsp of chili powder and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain, place in a bowl and toss with 1 tbsp. lime juice. Preheat the oven to 400F, lift the chickpeas out of the bowl with a slotted spoon and place in a single layer on an oiled baking sheet. Stir after 15 minutes, brushing with remaining lime juice from the bowl. Repeat three times, the last time sprinkling with chili powder and salt. When they’re golden brown and crispy (about 50-60 minutes total), remove from the oven and cool completely before serving. (Find this recipe and others at the FatFree Vegan Kitchen.)
  7. Make-Your-Own Trail Mix: Make it fun by mixing in your favorites. Try sunflower seeds, walnuts, raisins, other dried fruit, dates, granola, dried cherries, dark chocolate chips, dried ginger, spicy wasabi peas, coconut flakes…the sky’s the limit!

Do you have some favorite unusual snack ideas? Please share!

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Photo courtesy Red Snapper9 via Flickr.com.

Sources

“An Overview of Snacking,” Health Benefits of Smart Snacking, Volume 82, Number 6, November/December 2011. Dairy Council Digest Archives. http://www.nationaldairycouncil.org/Research/DairyCouncilDigestArchives/Pages/dcd82-6Page3.aspx.

“U.S. Children Snacking More; Junk Calories Leading the Rise,” Dieting: Food & Nutrition, March 2, 2010. http://www.health.am/ab/more/snacking-more-junk-calories-leading-the-rise/.

Deborah Braconnier, “American Snacking Habits to blame for Obesity: Study,” Health, July 1, 2011. http://medicalxpress.com/news/2011-07-american-snacking-habits-blame-obesity.html.

“Pepper Pick,” Nutrition Action, May 2012.

“Quick and Healthy Snack Recipes and Cooking Tips,” Eating Well, http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes_menus/collections/quick_healthy_snack_recipes.

“Unusual Healthy Snack: Roasted Grapes,” Spinach and Yoga, February 3, 2011. http://www.spinachandyoga.com/unusual-healthy-snack-roasted-grapes/.

Kevin Gianni

Kevin Gianni is a health author, activist and blogger. He started seriously researching personal and preventative natural health therapies in 2002 when he was struck with the reality that cancer ran deep in his family and if he didn’t change the way he was living — he might go down that same path. Since then, he’s written and edited 6 books on the subject of natural health, diet and fitness. During this time, he’s constantly been humbled by what experts claim they know and what actually is true. This has led him to experiment with many diets and protocols — including vegan, raw food, fasting, medical treatments and more — to find out what is myth and what really works in the real world.

Kevin has also traveled around the world searching for the best protocols, foods, medicines and clinics around and bringing them to the readers of his blog RenegadeHealth.com — which is one of the most widely read natural health blogs in the world with hundreds of thousands of visitors a month from over 150 countries around the world.

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