The Joy of Snacking

The quick answer: Snacks are the barometer of a healthy diet.  If you don’t eat well, you won’t snack well either.


Our Goal

Eat smarter, look better, live longer—that’s the stated goal of this blog.  If there’s a resource that will help you do it better than this blog, please tell us because we haven’t seen it. 

A disaster happened in the 20th century:  Food was industrialized for profit without proper consideration for health.  The deadly rise of chronic diseases was one consequence.  In the 21st century we’re sorting through the food rubble we call the modern American diet (MAD) and relearning how to live and be well. 

Sledgehammer Blows

In 2012’s first Healthy Changes we took a sledgehammer to the modern American diet (MAD).  Here is the effect of the first seven changes:

  1. Reduce dependence on sweets:  The average American drinks 96 oz. of soft drinks each week.  New goal: one 12-oz drink, or less.
  2. Eliminate man-made trans fats:  Zero deep fat fried foods.
  3. Take back control of your diet:  Write a weekly menu.
  4. Eat a healthy breakfast:  Cereal products must have more natural fiber than added sugar.
  5. Be muscular: Exercise 30 minutes most days.  It’s best if you sweat.
  6. Return to the plant-based diet of your ancestors:  Eat (USDA recommended) five vegetable servings daily. 
  7. Slow aging:  Eat a varied diet of whole foods (especially berries) to maximize antioxidant intake and minimize free radical damage.

Our goal is to rediscover the best way to live and be well.  We’re not trying to live forever, just more fully.

Snack Food

There’s nothing wrong with a snack between meals.  The problem started when Food Inc. decided to make a business of homemade snacks.  Here are some notable factory-made snacks, all featuring sugar as the primary ingredient: 

  • Cracker Jacks (first sold at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair);
  • Hersey bars (introduced in 1900, 10 cents);
  • Tootsie Rolls (1905, first wrapped penny candy);
  • Twinkies (1930, cake for life on the go).

Healthy, Affordable Snacks

The goal of this post is to rediscover healthy snacks.  In a prior post we summarized reader’s healthy snacks.  Here are ten ideas for traditional snacks that are wholesome and affordable:

  1. Fruit:  Nature wraps some fruits in individual servings, like the apple, banana, orange, and peach.  Purchased in season, they’re a nutritional bargain.  In winter, enjoy dried fruits.
  2. Veggies:  Carrot sticks and celery (with PB) are favorites.  But try broccoli, cauliflower, or zucchini with a little hummus.   Important point:  To get your daily five veggie servings, you should get at least one in your snacks.
  3. Green Smoothies; easiest way to eat your greens plus you get fruit too.
  4. Seeds:  Sunflower seeds are a healthy treat.  Popcorn is a real bargain—put popcorn in a paper bag, staple it closed, and pop it in the microwave.
  5. Nuts: But them in bulk at harvest, save them in the freezer, and enjoy year around. 
  6. Homemade bread:  This is my favorite snack, toasted with butter.  You can bake a loaf for under a buck if you buy yeast in bulk.  Homemade bran muffins make a great snack; put a batch in the freezer.
  7. Homemade granola makes a great snack too.  Try Katie’s Granola Recipe. http://wordofwisdomliving.squarespace.com/home/katies-granola.html
  8. Hard-boiled eggs:  A great treat: boil them on Monday and enjoy all week; pastured eggs are high in omega-3 fats.
  9. Cheese, especially with bread or healthy crackers, or in a quesadilla.
  10. Sardines:  For essential long-chain omega-3 fats, sardines are the best value.  Our grandparents ate them on crackers; we should rediscover the humble sardine.

Healthy Change:  We used the weekly menu rule to take control of food selection.  To control snacking, prepare a snack plate early in the day. 

Please comment:  When we eat regular, healthy meals, we snack less and make better choices.  You can find healthy store-bought snacks but ours are mostly homemade.  The best snacks are minimally processed—whole food snacks are best; we draw the processing line at granola and trail mix.  Please share your favorite snack ideas.

Need a reminder? Download our Healthy Change. Print and fold, then place in your kitchen or on your bathroom mirror to help you remember the Healthy Change of the week.

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Reader Comments (11)

You posted: Seeds: Sunflower seeds are a healthy treat. Popcorn is a real bargain—put popcorn in a paper bag, staple it closed, and pop it in the microwave.

I don't know if stapling would be a good idea since sparks might fly in that microwave with the metal staples.

Great idea otherwise! Now I'm trying to think what could be used instead of metal staples!

February 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPoeme

Great ideas here. I enjoy reading each post.

I recently posted a list of 77 healthy snacks over on my blog

February 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

Some of my favorite snacks during the day:

- berries with greek yogurt
- hummus with veggies: carrots, mushrooms, celery, bell peppers
- cheese with fruits tastes great
- cooked edamame (soy)

February 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNaomi C.

Poeme, the staples are too short to interact with the microwaves. Enjoy the popcorn. Best.

February 21, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterskip hellewell

I love the idea of making a snack plate in the morning. When I was pregnant, I read about making a sandwich in the morning, cutting it into 4 squares, and grabbing part of it thoughout the day. This helped a lot when I was too nauseated to eat a whole meal or to make one. I bet a healthy sandwich would go great on a snack plate!

February 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJenn

One thing we've been learning recently is that even healthy snacks can hinder weight loss. My husband has been one to constantly eat. It stems from when he was a child and his dad was a teacher. Food would get very lean in the summer time. So, if food is available he feels the need to eat it. He has been following my lead and eating healthy foods, but he eats at every chance he has. Recently, he decided to limit himself to meals. He has started dropping weight and realizes that it's ok to feel hungry once in a while.

As far as snacking goes, I try to only snack when I am hungry. One of my favorites is the ol' Ants on a Log (celery, peanut butter and raisins) Another good one is nuts and dried fruit. It's a good one to have on hand when you are on the go. I've also made homemade larabars for the occasional snack.

February 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnn

Regarding the popcorn - I just fold the top of the bag over a few times. I only use about a fourth cup of popcorn kernals and a drizzle of olive oil - the bad doesn't come unfolded at all. Best of all, that is just the right amount of popcorn - no waste, no freaky chemicals.

February 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth

Thank you for this! It validates what I was just saying to my husband this morning. I hope we can both snack better during the day. It tastes good and feels good!

I snacked on a handful of walnuts, golden raisins, and an apple today. I like the salty/sweet combo, and it's very satisfying.

February 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnelieze C.

My kids and I love brown rice cakes with fresh ground almond butter topped with banana slices. I have three hungry little boys and I am always in need of ideas! Thanks for all your great posts!

February 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCherisse

I'm always looking for better snacks to feed my always hungry small kids, and myself! My favorite go-to is raw almonds, dried cherries and some dark chocolate chips. great combo of flavors. thanks for the other suggestions!

February 29, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterjulie

Ok, here is one for the summer time - a handful of frozen peas straight from the bag. My kid are grown up now and they still do it. Frozen berries are always popular too.

February 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

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