BY Alyse

Top 12 Snacks for 2012

What is your favorite snack? Have you ever looked at the ingredient list on the label? I dare you!

The following are some of my favorite snacks because they taste good and pass the ingredient label test. They all contain 10 ingredients or less and no strange chemicals or preservatives!

1)     Roasted seaweed strips– when you are craving something salty and crunchy this is the perfect snack! This snack offers a healthy dose of vitamins A and C and iodine. My favorite variety is the wasabi flavored ones which are made by Annie Chun’s and can be found at Trader Joe’s.

3)      Classic hummus topped with pomegranate seeds- the foundation of any hummus is chickpeas and tahini – chickpeas are high in protein and fiber (both great for craving control) and tahini is rich in essential fatty acids, calcium, protein and B vitamins. A great twist to this healthy spread is mixing in some pomegranate seeds. They add a sweet accent to the creamy hummus blend and provide a healthy dose of nutrients including fiber, potassium and vitamins C and K.

4)      Salt and pepper flavored pistachios –pistachios have always been one of my favorite snacks. They are loaded in nutrients like monounsaturated fatty acids (good fat) and antioxidants which help lower LDL cholesterol and even may increase HDL cholesterol in the blood. Improving your cholesterol profile (a greater ratio of HDL to LDL) will prevent coronary artery disease and decrease risk of stroke. These little nuts don’t stop there – they also provide carotenes, vitamin E, B complex vitamins and various minerals (Copper, Manganese, Potassium, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Zinc and Selenium). This is an example of nutrient dense food.  You get a lot of bang for you buck. Plus, the shells help slow down the eating process which will help you savor the food and register when you’re satisfied.

5)      Honey-Nana Chobani Champions yogurt – freeze this for a delicious and sweet frozen yogurt treat! While these yogurts are marketed to kids and taste test approved, adults will appreciate them because they’re packed with protein, calcium and vitamin D and have no preservatives, artificial sweeteners or synthetic growth hormones.

6)      Pumpkin seeds – Pumpkin seeds have a delicious subtly sweet and nutty flavor and are loaded in nutrients, including zinc, magnesium, iron, protein and healthy fats, just to name a few! You can buy them roasted, or roast them yourself.  You can try a variety of flavors for an extra kick– chili-lime (toast seeds in a little lime juice and add some chili pepper spice) or spiced (toast seeds with some butter, salt, garlic salt and Worcestershire sauce).

7)      Unshelled edamame -this is a great high protein snack that is rich in healthy fat and very satisfying. You can stop by any Japanese restaurant to order some, buy them pre-cooked at some grocery stores or boil them yourself if you can find them in the freezer section of your grocer.

8)      Hard boiled egg and apple slices – Hard boiled eggs are one of my favorite on-the-go snacks because they are a complete protein source (they contain all nine essential amino acids). Pairing an egg with an apple provides the perfect salty/sweet combo. However, make sure to go organic with the apple because conventionally grown apples are loaded with pesticides!

9)      Almond butter on Ak Mak crackers – almond butter is a nutritional powerhouse, rich in vitamin E, folic acid and magnesium. Not all nut butters are created equal – check the label. Spread on Ak Mak crackers (or any other whole grain cracker) is my favorite way to enjoy it.

10)   Mini cheese and bean quesadilla – there is something so satisfying about this snack. Simply heat (in oven or microwave) black beans and some shredded cheese in a small whole grain tortilla – this delicious high fiber, high protein snack will definitely carry you through until your body tells you you’re hungry again.

11)   Baked kale chips – this is one of the tastiest and simplest ways to get dark leafy greens into your diet. Simply top fresh kale pieces (often available at the grocery store pre-washed) with spray olive oil and a little sea salt and bake at 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes (shake the tray every 10 minutes or so to prevent burning). Even my 3 year old son loves eating these green “chips”!

12)   Air-popped popcorn – While popcorn can be a healthy, satisfying high fiber snack, skip the microwave bag version and look for short ingredient lists when buying bagged popcorn. Important note: The lining of microwave popcorn bags contains the chemical PFOA (perfluoroctanoic acid) which has been identified as a carcinogen by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Some of my favorite brands include Trader Joe’s lite Kettle Corn and Popcorn, Indiana aged white cheddar.