Smart Snacks That Will Fool Your Taste Buds
By Linda S. Mills
Once you get the munchies, they’re hard to resist – but you don’t have to reach for the junk food to satisfy your cravings. There are plenty of smart choices that are great for your body as well as your taste buds. Whether you like them salty, crispy or just plain sweet, these super-snacks are easy to prepare and guaranteed to please.
Guacamole and Chips
Prized for their creamy texture and rich flavor, avocados are loaded with monounsaturated fat which helps lower cholesterol. They also contain lutein for healthy eyes and cancer-fighting oleic acid. Though avocados are not a low-calorie food, a little bit goes a long way, making them a smart snack – even for dieters.
Nothing pairs better with avocados than whole-grain, corn chips. Milled or ground corn products (used to make chips) are rich in memory-boosting thiamin and folate which helps protect against strokes, heart attacks, and other vascular diseases.
Smart Snacks Quick Fix: Combine two ripe, peeled avocados with 2 of tablespoons lemon juice, 1 clove chopped garlic, 2 chopped tomatoes, 1/4 cup diced onion, 1 chopped jalapeno pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. *For added protein, serve with blue corn chips. They are 20 percent higher in protein than white corn varieties.
Baked Sweet Potato Fries
The versatile sweet potato has long been considered a nutritional superstar, but it is also gaining popularity as a delicious, smart snack. Packed with immune-boosting beta carotene and vitamin C, the vibrant sweet potato also contains antioxidants that target free-radicals leading to inflammatory and gastrointestinal disorders.
Smart Snacks Quick Fix: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray. Peel 2 medium sweet potatoes and slice into 1/2 inch wedges. Toss the wedges with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon cumin, chili powder, garlic powder or other spice of your choice. Arrange the potatoes in a single layer on the cookie sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, tossing every 10 minutes to ensure even browning. *Don’t be tempted to skip the oil. Fat increases the availability of beta-carotene in sweet potatoes.
Garbanzo Bean Hummus
Garbanzo beans (chickpeas) are a versatile, high-fiber, protein source, and even small quantities can satisfy your need to snack on something rich and savory. Garbanzos are high in antioxidants such as manganese and have proven very beneficial in lowering LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Due to their valuable combination of fiber and protein, a 1/2 cup serving can stabilize blood sugar and improve digestive function, as well.
Smart Snacks Quick Fix: In a food processor, place one 15-ounce can of garbanzo beans (undrained), 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1/4 cup of tahini (sesame paste), 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon cumin. Blend until smooth. *Serve with whole-grain pita bread or fresh vegetables to ensure a low-glycemic snack.
Spicy Roasted Almonds
Rich in monounsaturated fat, magnesium, potassium and vitamin E – heart-healthy, almonds have long been considered one of nature’s finest superfoods. They help regulate blood pressure, improve blood flow to vital organs and are considered a safe alternative for people who are allergic to peanuts. A quarter-cup serving contains more protein than an egg, and this smart snack appears to speed up the metabolism of fats – which is great news for dieters.
Smart Snacks Quick Fix: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Toss 2 cups of almonds with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, 2 teaspoons chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon cumin, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Transfer to a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish. Bake uncovered for 10 minutes or until almonds are toasted. *If you are craving something sweet, toss the hot almonds with 2 tablespoons of sugar after removing from the oven.
You can view more healthy snack alternatives at the Healthy Snack Recipes section of our website.
Alternative Cures That Really Work, Ronald Hoffman, MD and Barry Fox, PhD, Rodale, Inc., 2006
Healthy Immunity, Lorna R. Vanderhaeghe, Macmillan Canada, 2001