While Sarah and I do believe in eating mostly seasonal foods, and primarily 2 meals a day, there are those “in-between” times where you really need to eat a snack.
We don’t promote snacking, or believe it’s good to do throughout the day, but it’s smart to plan ahead for those periods during the day when you KNOW you’re going to need one.
If you don’t plan ahead, you run the risk of getting hungry, impatient, and reaching for whatever you have on hand, whether that’s chips, chocolate or a block of cheese.
We’ve talked a lot about the importance of eating healthy snacks instead of junk food, but we haven’t ever provided a list of specific examples.
So today, we’re doing just that!
Below you’ll find a list of our top picks we regularly enjoy…
9 Super Healthy Afternoon Snack Ideas
#1 – PBJ Coconut Wrap
This is my current go-to snack in the afternoons when I need some extra fuel to make it until dinnertime. Simply take a Coconut Wrap (we buy these Paleo Wraps), smear 1-2 tablespoons of peanut butter on 1 side, followed by 1 tablespoon raisins, and roll it up. Any kind of nut butter will work fine.
Why it’s smart: only 3 ingredients; low in sugar; no grains; fast
#2 – Simple Grain Bowl
This is a good option if you have some extra brown rice or quinoa on-hand, and aren’t eating grains at dinnertime. Make one of these bowls with 1-2 cups cooked grains, 1-2 tablespoons tahini and drizzle a bit of Tamari or Braggs Liquid Aminos over the top. Resist over-indulging as you may lose your appetite for dinner.
Why it’s smart: only 3 ingredients; low in sugar; fast
#3 – Afternoon Green Smoothie
Sarah sometimes makes a green smoothie in the afternoon if she didn’t already have one that morning. Here are a few basic green smoothie recipes worth considering.
Why it’s smart: extra greens; it’s hydrating; easily digestible; you can add extras like protein & superfoods
#4 – Mid-Day Green Juice
Sometimes we have a surplus of veggies on-hand and we make extra juice in the morning to enjoy later in the day.
Why it’s smart: extra greens; it’s hydrating; can be low in sugar
#5 – Zucchini Muffins
This is a good recipe to make on a Sunday: Grain Free Zucchini Muffins. They’re delicious and perfectly-sized to bring with you to work throughout the following week. Since they have no grains, you don’t need to worry about feeling bloated or weighed down by your snack choice.
Why it’s smart: no grains
#6 – Flax Crackers & Hummus
We like buying raw flax crackers (we like the ones made by Doctor in the Kitchen) and eating them with our favorite hummus (Majestic’s Sprouted Sun Dried Tomato) . It makes for a great weekend snack at the park.
Why it’s smart: no grains; easily digestible; fast
#7 – Kale Chips
These are a great chip-alternative, and can be quite filling if you get a variety flavored with nuts or seeds. Kale chips can be a bit time-intensive to make yourself, and fairly expensive if you buy them pre-made, but the cost of convenience usually is. Either way, kale chips are one of the healthiest snack options out there.
Why it’s smart: extra greens; no grains; easily digestible; low in sugar
#8 – Energy Balls
Make your own energy balls with dates, seeds & superfoods. Be sure to join our Facebook Group if you haven’t already for more recipes like these. *See how to get this recipe below
Why it’s smart: easily digestible; high in protein; fast
#9 – Homemade Trail Mix
By ‘homemade’ I mean a blend that you put together yourself. Often times the prepackaged trail mixes can be full of extra sugar and preservatives. We like to keep it simple with almonds, goji berries and cacao nibs. Nuts can be more difficult for women to digest, but it’s great on days where you haven’t had much fat in your diet – go with sprouted nuts whenever possible for this reason.
Why it’s smart: no grains; low in sugar depending on which fruit you add
Popular Snacks to Avoid
Say What?! Yep, in a pinch they’re okay but shouldn’t be relied on regularly as they aren’t real food and filled with unnecessary sugar. That said, we do eat these 1-2 times per week, and when hiking or traveling and need the convenience. Our favorite bars (made with real food!) are: 1) Almond Coconut Perfect Bar, 2) Protein Purity Gomacro Bar, 3) Chocolate Crunch Square Bar & 4) Pecan Pie Larabar.
Why it’s Not great: high in sugar; heavily processed (not real food)
Sweet Potato Chips & Tortilla Chips
Don’t get us wrong, these are okay every week or two, but shouldn’t have a regular home in your pantry. When Sarah and I have these on-hand we demolish them, no matter how many we have! We decided long ago that we only buy chips when we’re right about to eat them – and we feel so much better about that.
Why it’s Not great: high in grains; high in oil; heavily processed (not real food)
Store Bought Trail Mixes
If you’re buying trail mix from the store, watch out for extra sugars and preservatives. Unfortunately, the addition of these turns your healthy snack into something otherwise – always read the ingredients and stick to clean brands/products.
Why it’s Not great: high in sugar; heavily processed (not real food)
How to decide on the right one
Sarah and I put a lot of thought into WHAT we’re going to eat and WHEN we’ll be eating it.
If you don’t eat the right thing, you run the risk of feeling heavy, tired, bloated or even constipated. Needless to say, it’s worth thinking about.
Planning ahead & listening to our bodies have been the 2 most important factors in improving our health. Eating right for you doesn’t come from a strict diet or meal plan, but rather following the signals your body provides when eating certain foods.
Below, I’d like to provide the same questions I ask myself before making a decision on what to eat.
What to consider before snacking
- Have I had enough water so far today? If not, you may be dehydrated and in need of water more than food. If you need food AND water, eat something more hydrating like fruit, veggies & hummus, or something more water-soluble for faster digestion (avoid grains here as they will likely cause fatigue and absorb more water in your body).
- How many grains will I be eating today? If it’s more than twice, don’t go for things like crackers, popcorn or bread, as they may work against you.
- How many nuts will I be eating today? This is helpful to keep you from eating too many, which can cause bloating and heaviness.
- How much sugar will I be eating today? Will help you maintain a healthy relationship with sweeteners.
- Am I getting enough greens today? Greens are not only important for nutrients, but also for digestion as they’re full of water and roughage that will keep your food moving.
- Am I tired? If so, you’ll want something that’s light, hydrating and energizing like a green juice or green smoothie.
- Does my stomach hurt? If you’re stomach hurts, ask yourself what caused it – the answer will help steer you away from eating that again in the future. Try drinking water, make sure you’re getting enough food, and stick to really simple foods like veggies and hummus until it feels better.
Each of these questions will provide insight towards the right food you should be eating next. The more you ask yourself, and the more you listen for the answers, the better you will be able to predict what the perfect thing to eat next is.