5 Snack Recipes for Energy & Crunch (Plus: the benefits of eating balanced snacks)

A top view of a healthy snack food background containing almonds, apple, apricot, banana, blueberries, honey, rice cakes, cherry tomatoes

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Ever felt like you could eat the entire refrigerator by mealtime? Getting hungry between meals is completely normal, and your solution could be balanced snacks. Although not everyone needs to add snacks to their diet, it can help some folks reach their health goals, such as weight loss.

What is a snack? 

We’ve all been exposed to snack foods like chips, pretzels, candy, etc. These products are designed to be addictive, with bursts of salt and sugar. They say sweet nothings to our tongues but leave our stomachs unsatisfied!

Spoiler: these aren’t the snacks I’m talking about in this article! 

I’m talking about snacks or small meals that you eat to stay satiated between meals. In other words, they are hunger prevention. These snacks help you level the peaks of the “starving” feeling and “super full” feeling. And eating balanced snacks supports your blood sugar levels, keeping your energy even, all day long. 

A Balanced Snack

Homemade crostini with strawberries and avocado
Homemade crostini

A balanced snack is similar to a “balanced meal” (which I cover in more detail here). It includes 2 or 3 elements:

  1. Protein (7-14 grams per snack)
  2. Carbohydrate with energy and fiber
  3. Optional bonus: non-starchy vegetable(s)!

Here are some examples of snack-ready proteins and carbs:

Proteins: 

  • Hummus
  • Greek yogurt
  • Cottage cheese
  • Hard-boiled egg
  • Turkey slices
  • Sardines 
  • Roasted salmon

Carbohydrates with fiber and energy:

  • A slice of whole grain toast/crackers
  • Edamame
  • A roasted sweet potato 
  • Fruit

When should you have a snack?

A general approach is to eat every 2.5-3 hours, depending on your activity level. If you’re moving around more, having a small meal or snack could help you maintain your energy. 

I want to be clear, however: if you’re someone who doesn’t usually snack between meals, and your energy level is great, then there’s no need to change a system that works! But the most basic rule of thumb is: don’t let yourself get too hungry. If you are too hungry when you sit down for your next meal, you’re more likely to overeat. Snacking can help prevent you from getting so hungry that you overeat at mealtimes. 

So how do you integrate balanced snacks into your diet without too much effort? The easiest way is to eat leftovers or prepare something simple, such as veggies and dip. 

Pro-tip: Plan ahead! When you’re cooking, make extra. Set aside ~½ cup of your meal in a separate container. Your snack is now ready for you to eat tomorrow! 

5 Snack Recipes to get your Crunch on!*

  1. Raw Veggies + Hummus
    1. Cut veggies into sticks. You can use cucumber, sweet bell pepper, snap peas…
    2. Dip in hummus
  1. Dehydrated Crispy Veggies + Dip 
    1. Mix up a quick Greek yogurt dip (Greek yogurt + cumin + lemon juice) 
    2. Dip in dehydrated veggies, like beet chips.
  1. “Ants on a Log.” (Featured in my recent recipe video!)
    1. Fill celery sticks with nut butter* (Such as PB2 low-calorie peanut butter.)
    2. Place “ants” on top: raisins, currants, or pomegranate seeds.
    3. The speedy version: put nut butter and “ant” toppings in a bowl. Dip with celery sticks!
  1. Jicama sticks with lime juice or chili lime seasoning. What’s jicama?
  2. Fruit & Yogurt Cup: 
    1. Start with ½ cup Greek yogurt.
    2. Add ¼-½ cup fruit. (If it’s frozen, warm it in the microwave for about one minute).
    3. Sprinkle on ⅛-¼ cup quinoa crispies or another cereal with no added sugar. 
"Ants on a Log" snack (celery stalk filled with peanut butter, with pomegranate seeds on top.
“Ants on a Log”

*Note: I recommend modifying portion sizes based on your activity level. If you have a specific health goal in mind, it’s best to work one-on-one with a dietitian like myself to tailor your portion sizes to meet your goals. 

Want to hear more about meal planning? Join me for the upcoming Quick & Delish Virtual Meal Planning Series (April 24-May 15, 2021), and make a meal and snack plan tailored to you and your needs! Sign up here

What works or doesn’t work for you in the kitchen? I’d love to hear from you in this survey so that I can answer your questions about cooking and nutrition: https://forms.gle/yeJ3vuSBHVGNAtij8 Thanks!

Cheers to your health,

By Alicia Connor, MA RDN & Chef

Author Bio:

Alicia Connor a pretty brunette with short cropped hair wearing a denim jacket with a white tee.
Alicia Connor

Alicia Connor is a registered dietitian nutritionist and chef who lives in San Francisco. She is passionate about healthy cooking, with a focus on simplifying meal planning and making healthy eating easier. Alicia built a successful career as a chef, working at one of the top restaurants in San Francisco. But as her vision declined due to a hereditary condition, she decided to focus on a career with longevity and returned to school to become a dietitian.

In her current role as registered dietitian nutritionist and chef, she is always passionately working towards peoples’ health. In February 2019, she founded Quick & Delish, a video cooking series on YouTube, where she presents easy recipes with minimal steps, for flavorful, balanced meals. She’s writing an e-cookbook, and gives virtual meal planning workshops year-round. And she works with clients one-on-one to build good habits, simplify meal planning, and create an actionable plan to meet their health goals. You can read more about her passion for health in Today’s Dietitian. 

Image Descriptions:

  • A top view of a healthy snack food background containing almonds, apple, apricot, banana, blueberries, honey, rice cakes, cherry tomatoes.
  • Homemade crostini with strawberries and avocado.
  • “Ants on a Log” snack (celery stalk filled with peanut butter, with pomegranate seeds on top.

3 Comments

  1. Great snack suggestions. I grew up eating the ants on a log and still do as an adult. Brings back nice memories. Interested in trying that Greek yogurt dip with the beet chips. That one sounds interesting.

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