We regularly get letters inquiring about the best “gourmet” snacks. Rather than name specific brands, we’ve adapted an article from Katie Waldeck, a San Francisco-based writer who often covers health and nutrition, and have added our own tips to the seven snacks Katie selected—snacks that also help you feel fuller, longer.
When it comes snacking (or any eating), it’s just as much about what you eat as how much you eat, says Katie. “A can of soda may have the same amount of calories as a bowl of oatmeal,” says Katie, “but the oatmeal will help you last through the morning without a trip to the vending machine.”
Some of her recommendations will sound familiar, others less so. But try them and see which of these tasty, healthy snacks are most to your liking.
It almost seems hackneyed, but this old standby is one of the healthiest and most filling fruits around. With lots of fiber and a long digestion process, apples make you feel fuller longer than other popular fruits. Some research suggests that eating an apple 20 minutes before a meal can significantly reduce the amount of food you consume.
Whip up a mixed bean salad, like this edamame and black bean salad. Recipe and photo from Betty Crocker.
TIP: If you don’t like apples, it just could be that the fruit you buy isn’t as tasty as it should be. We’re shocked at the high percentage of relatively tasteless apples we buy at supermarkets and delis, largely lacking in natural sugar and with minimal apple flavor. No wonder people would rather have a candy bar than an apple.
But don’t let bad growing conditions and bad merchandise selection on the part of store buyers deprive you of a tasty apple. Here are some alternatives:
Keep trying different varieties of apples—and different markets—until you find what you like. We buy one apple, taste it, and if it’s good we go back to load up on more.
Look for Granny Smiths and Honeycrisps; we find them to be more “reliable” than other varieties. But that’s just our anecdotal experience.
Ask friends and colleagues if they know of good resources. Our friend Terry clued us in to a great supplier at our local farmers market. (Alas, even farmers market produce may not be sweet and flavorful as one might expect.)
If you bite into an apple that tastes blah, change it up. We’ll sprinkle noncaloric sweetener on it, use a dab of agave nectar or honey or spread slices with peanut butter (another nutritious snack). Chilling the apple and adding dash of salt can also help to bring up flavor.
Beans & Lentils, Salad & Soup
There are plenty of fiber, complex carbohydrate and protein in beans and lentils—great foods for a healthy and filling snack. They provide an energy boost and lower cholesterol levels. That’s why, though not a mainstream snack choice, beans and lentils should be part of your snacking menu.
TIP: Buy or make a batch of bean or lentil salad or soup on Sunday so you can snack on it during the week.
Simply open cans of two or three of your favorite beans (cannellini, kidney, pinto, etc.), drain, and mix with chopped red onion, fresh herbs (we use cilantro or parsley), oil and vinegar. Season to taste with salt, pepper, garlic and/or crushed red chili flakes.
Prepared soups often don’t have enough beans or lentils, but it’s so easy to make your own. Buy beef, chicken or vegetable broth and mix with canned beans so that the soup is 50% beans. We’ve never come across canned lentils, but it’s easy enough to make lentil soup from scratch and freeze it in individual portions—again, with 50% lentils.
Yes, this tarragon potato salad is a healthy,
filling snack. Recipe and photo courtesy
Some people are apprehensive about snacking on nuts because of fat and calories. Guess what: certain high-calorie foods like avocado, chickpeas and nuts deliver the highest-quality calories you can ingest. The fats are the heart healthy, monounsaturated “good fats,” and they’re good-for-you calories. The USDA recommends an ounce a day (see the health benefits of nuts.)
And nuts really fill you up. Studies have shown that regular nut snackers tend to be slimmer than people who don’t eat nuts.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. As tempting as that bagel is, it’s best to kick-start your metabolism with a nutritious and filling food. Loaded with fiber, oatmeal is the most satiating breakfast option around.
TIP: We keep a large batch of crunchy-style, steel-cut oatmeal in the fridge, and microwave a portion every morning. Garnish with bananas or other fruit.
Believe it or not, 86% of this popular citrus fruit is water, and much of the remainder is fiber. Oranges are one of the best fruits you can eat to satisfy your hunger for longer. But don’t turn to orange juice instead: It isn’t nearly as filling as the whole fruit, and the number of oranges one needs to squeeze to fill up a glass of juice increases the calories and sugars.
Microwave a bowl of homemade popcorn, a whole grain. As long as you avoid drenching it in butter and salt, popcorn is a filling and healthy snack. Instead of butter, try flavoring with dried herbs and Parmesan cheese, or nutritional yeast and low-sodium soy sauce.
TIP: For extra flavor, we toss popcorn with infused olive oil, a heart-healthy oil. It’s available in enticing flavors, from basil and lemon to chile and garlic.
Broth-based soups loaded with vegetables are one of the best options for keeping you fuller for longer. The high fiber and water content, in addition to the hot temperature, combine to curb your appetite. Eating a cup of soup as your morning or afternoon snack will help control your desire for more food at lunch or dinner.
TIP: There’s no reason why you can’t have soup for breakfast, as they do in Asia and other parts of the world.
White Potatoes with Skins
Without a doubt, says Katie, white potatoes lead the pack in terms of foods that keep you full the longest. Potatoes fill you up about 3 times more than white bread (or by analogy, a danish?). How’s that for satisfying! Be sure to eat the skins, too, and stick to boiled or baked.
TIP: It’s easy to make a week’s supply to carry into work, school or other destination.
Enjoy the potatoes at room temperature or microwaved, with a dab of nonfat plain yogurt and fresh-ground pepper.
Since boiled potatoes can be the base for a potato salad, your potato snack can become a real treat. Fill out your dish with bell pepper, celery, green beans, onion and other favorite veggies. And of course, instead of mayo, use a vinaigrette, nonfat plain yogurt or low-calorie dressing. Check out the recipe for tarragon potato salad in the photo and this one for German potato salad (you might want to leave out the bacon for your healthy snack).