Let’s face it, life keeps us pretty busy. In order to have the energy we need to keep up with everything, it’s important to eat healthy, drink plenty of water, and get a good night’s sleep.
But when it comes to eating on the go, we may find ourselves grabbing a bag of chips or candy bar, and as a result, feeling tired later. Fortunately, there are some simple, fast, and healthy options that will not only boost your energy, but will leave you feeling good about your choices.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are a great on-the-go snack option loaded with fiber and healthy fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids. Not only are they tasty and convenient, but they’ve been correlated with some great health benefits, such as a decreased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, reduced inflammation, improved brain function, and a lowered risk of weight gain.
Among the healthiest are almonds, which have been shown to reduce cholesterol and the risk of heart disease; walnuts, which are a great source of omega-3s and have been shown to improve brain function; and pistachios, which reduce oxidative stress and lower blood glucose levels after a meal. Flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds are also tasty options that are loaded with nutrients and have a plethora of health benefits.
Veggies With Hummus
Vegetables are a great portable snack. To have them handy when you’re ready to run out the door, be sure to clean and prepare your favorites, whether it be celery, carrots, grape tomatoes, broccoli, or whatever appeals to you. Store them in a pre-portioned, grab-and-go baggie or container. This way, you have no excuse not to have a healthy snack!
To add some flavor and great health benefits, try your veggies with hummus. Whether store-bought or homemade, hummus can help fight inflammation, promote good gut bacteria, and may even help reduce blood sugar levels and the risk of heart disease.
In my opinion, nothing beats a smoothie for an easy way to get in your fruits and vegetables for the day.
My go-to recipe includes greens (like spinach, lettuce, or kale), fruit (such as pineapple, banana, strawberries, or mango), a little plain yogurt, flaxseed, and almond milk. Voilà!—you probably have more nutrients in your smoothie that you may normally get in a whole day.
For a sweeter version, try my son’s favorite recipe: almond or peanut butter, banana, spinach, yogurt, chocolate almond milk, flaxseed, and sometimes I even sneak in a little avocado—a great creamy substitute for yogurt. It’s always a hit.
One key to a good smoothie is the blender, and my personal favorite is Vitamix. It’s a workhorse, and will break down the toughest of ingredients. While it’s a bit pricey, it’s money well-spent, and we still have our same machine 12 years later, despite a ton of use.
While smoothies are a little more work than some other snacks, they’re still easy to make, packed full of nutrients, and will keep you full for hours.
Sam’s Millet and Flax Chips
I discovered Sam’s Bakery products in a health food store when we lived in Florida. I wasn’t sure I’d be crazy about chips made of millet and flax, but after trying a bag of cinnamon chips, I was hooked. I recommended my newfound discovery to my patients, and they all gave rave reviews.
If cinnamon isn’t your thing, Sam’s chips also come in flavors like cheese, garlic, plain, and salt and vinegar. Keep a bag handy, and if you feel a rumble in your tummy, two or three chips (they’re large) usually do the trick.
While Sam’s Bakery is local to Tampa, their products are sold around the country, and fortunately, I can still find them where I live now. They also make a variety of healthy bread options you can check out.
Fruits like apples and bananas make great on-the-go snacks, and when combined with a protein-rich nut butter, they’re both delicious and filling. Grapes are another great snack option, and in the heat of the summer, nothing beats the cool feeling of frozen grapes (a tip a patient once gave me).
For another great to-go option, combine a handful of blueberries with some granola or steel-cut oats, mix them in a jar of yogurt the night before, and grab it on your way out the door, for an easy and nutrient-packed breakfast.
And while it’s a little higher in sugar content, dehydrated fruit is another delicious snack. I purchased an Excalibur food dehydrator years ago, and it really helps save money on dried fruit in the long run. My son’s favorites are pineapple, bananas, and apples, and when the latter two are sprinkled with a little cinnamon, as an added bonus, the kitchen always smells amazing!
If you’re of my generation, rice cakes were essential in college. And while they’re not the most enticing snack by themselves, at 35 calories each, they make a great foundation for a variety of toppings.
Some tasty topping ideas include peanut butter with apple or banana (always a winning combination), or perhaps you’re more of a cream cheese with strawberries or avocado kind of person. For something a bit fancier, try tomato with fresh mozzarella and basil, topped with a bit of olive oil. Or how about goat cheese with sliced pears and a drizzle of honey?
The options are limited only by your imagination.
Whether homemade or store-bought, snack bars are a staple in the snack world. They require no refrigeration, can be tossed in your bag, and come in a variety of flavors and sizes.
But keep in mind that snack bars vary, from nutritious to something akin to a candy bar, so it’s important to read labels. A healthy snack bar should have no more than 6 grams of sugar per 100 calories, a minimum of 3 grams of protein and fiber, and no more than 300 total calories.
To make sure it’s not loaded with processed ingredients, look for familiar ingredients on the label. Some great brands to check out include Larabar, Kind bar, RXBAR, and Luna Bar—and the list is growing.
Hopefully, with a little preparation and forethought, you can grab one of these healthy snacks when you’re on the go. Your brain, body, and waistline will be sure to thank you!
Tatiana Denning, D.O. is a preventive family medicine physician and owner of Simpura Weight Loss and Wellness. She believes in empowering her patients with the knowledge and skills necessary to maintain and improve their own health through weight management, healthy habits, and disease prevention.