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10 Delicious Guilt Free Snacks

Enjoy snacking but worried about ruining your healthy eating plan?

What makes for a healthy, guilt-free snack? Ideally, you want to aim for a combination of lean protein, healthy fat, and complex carbohydrates. A snack with this combination will help you halt hunger, provide lasting energy, and keep you on track with your diet and fitness goals. Try to stick with a snack that contains around 100-200 calories—any more than that and you’d actually be eating a small meal rather than a snack. Avoid empty calories and steer clear of added sugars—both are commonly found in highly-processed foods.

Jerky/Lean Meat Snacks

Beef jerky has been around forever, but the selection of dehydrated meat snacks has expanded well beyond beef to include jerky made from turkey, chicken, elk, boar, duck, venison, pork, and even salmon! Jerky and dried lean meat sticks or bites are loaded with protein, iron, zinc, and vitamin B12. Read labels and choose versions that are lower in sodium.

Powdered Peanut Butter & Apple Slices

Powdered peanut butter, to which you add water to reconstitute, has about 50 calories per 2 tablespoons versus nearly 200 calories in regular peanut butter. Smear on crunchy apple slices for a nourishing, shelf-stable, sweet and savory snack.

Pistachios

About 30 pistachios yield just under 100 calories. Opt for the unsalted version in their shells. Having to remove the outer shell means they take longer to eat, meaning you’ll be less apt to overeat them. Pistachios are chock-full of beneficial omega-3 fats, protein, fiber, and trace minerals. Just be mindful that they are calorie-dense. Measure out a single portion instead of eating directly from the container. I recommend buying a large container of pistachios and measuring out single portions into individual zip-top bags for an easy, delicious, shelf-stable grab-n-go snack.

Roasted Chickpeas

Chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans) are packed with hunger-squelching protein and fiber—two key players in the game of snacking smart. Roasted chickpeas will help fill the void for something crunchy, satisfying, savory, and slightly salty, a spot once filled by potato chips. Several brands make already-prepared versions of these in many tantalizing flavors, but they’re so easy to make at home and much more budget-friendly. Simply drain and rinse a 15.5-ounce can of chickpeas, place in a large mixing bowl with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper, toss to coat and lay on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through.

Air-Popped Popcorn

The key to keeping popcorn healthy is preparing it the right way. Rather than buying “movie-theater butter” microwaveable bags of popcorn, which are loaded with fat and sodium, start popping your own from kernels. Using an air popper, you can enjoy 3 cups of guilt-free popcorn for just 93 calories. Since popcorn is a whole-grain, its filling fiber will help stave off hunger. Research shows that popcorn is also loaded with disease-fighting antioxidants. A light sprinkle of cinnamon, a dusting of cocoa powder mixed with stevia, or fresh rosemary and garlic powder helps the flavor pop.

Oatmeal

Oats, a whole grain, contain both types of fiber—soluble and insoluble—which confer different health benefits. Of particular note is the soluble fiber beta-glucan housed in oats. Research has proven that beta-glucans lower cholesterol, particularly bad cholesterol (LDL), which helps reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. Beta-glucans also reduce your blood sugar and insulin levels after a carb-rich meal. Oats also provide protein and a surfeit of antioxidants. A half cup (40 g) of dry, old-fashioned oats (which makes about a cup of oatmeal once the liquid is added and it is heated) contains 150 calories, 3 grams of fat, 0 mg of sodium, 27 grams of carbohydrate, 4 grams of fiber, and 5 grams of protein.

Open-Faced Egg Sandwich

Eggs are the gold standard when it comes to complete high-quality protein, meaning all other forms of protein are compared to them. For a long time, eggs undeservingly got a bad rep, but you should embrace eggs, including the yolk—just one yolk, that is. The white houses the majority of the protein and contains a mere 17 calories, but the yolk provides B vitamins, vitamins A and D, phosphorus, selenium, and a nutrient crucial for brain health but found in only a few foods—choline.

In a bowl, whisk together one whole egg and two egg whites, and cook in a nonstick skillet over medium-low heat until firm. Place on 1/2 a whole-grain English muffin (toasted), season with a pinch of salt and pepper, top with spinach and a tomato slice, and enjoy for only 180 nutrient-packed calories.

Turkey Avocado Wrap

Turkey provides lean protein and iron, and both boost energy to help you fight fatigue. Wrap 4 ounces of lean deli turkey slices (seek out lower-sodium varieties) and 1/4 a medium avocado (sliced) in a large Romaine or Bibb lettuce leaf. A little squirt of mustard and some cracked black pepper add a boost of flavor. This high-protein, healthy-fat, sans-guilt snack contains about 170 calories.

Edamame

Snack on steamed or boiled edamame to get a hefty dose of fiber, protein, omega-3 fats, and a host of antioxidants. One cup of unshelled (in pod) edamame clocks in at a mere 107 calories, 2 grams of fat, 12 grams of carbohydrates, 8 grams of fiber, 0 grams of sugar and 10 grams of protein. Having to split the pods open to retrieve the nutritious bean slows down your eating, leaving you more satisfied and less likely to overeat.

Veggies & Light String Cheese

Pair cut-up vegetables (very low in calories but full of filling fiber and water) with a piece of light string cheese or one Babybel light, each of which contains 50 calories, for a quick, easy, delicious guilt-free snack.


[Images via Shutterstock]

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