Health & Fitness

Snack On These Instead

A lot of times at gatherings I am the one with a plate of fruit or the healthiest things I can find on the table. In the lunchroom, my co-workers sometimes make fun of me saying they would like to see what I store in my pantry since my lunchbox consist of things they have never eaten or even know about. The health nut in training that I am tries really hard to have all the recommended amount of each food group throughout the day and I plan my meals accordingly. I am at a point where if any food item cannot pass my ” is it worth it” test, it will land itself inside of my body.

Snacks, I do love snacks. However, I don’t eat snacks just to eat it. My snacks are part of my daily strategic meal plans. From fruit and veggie salads to whole grain crackers with hummus, my snacks serve a purpose beyond just something you eat while you wait to get the “real food”.

As I have mentioned in one of my previous posts, I follow a health magazine by the name of Fitness Magazine. Daily, I receive tips on fitness, healthy living, and recipes for healthy eating. Below is the tip on healthy eating I received yesterday and I think it is another great one to share.

The Best Natural Snacks

1. Kashi Autumn Wheat

Organic whole-grain wheat, organic evaporated cane juice, natural flavor. Those are the only three ingredients in Kashi’s Autumn Wheat cereal. Simple formula, but think shredded wheat on steroids. It’s USDA certified organic, low fat, cholesterol and sodium free, and provides a quarter of your daily fiber needs per cup. Plus, the bite-size biscuits actually taste really, really good — liked by both adults and 2-year-olds (seriously). And for a breakfast cereal, there’s no more rigorous taste test than that.

Nutrition: (1 cup): 190 calories, 1g fat, 45g carbohydrates, 0g sodium, 6g fiber, 5g protein

Price: $3.50 for a 17.5-ounce box

Where to buy: Major retailers, including Whole Foods, Target, Publix, and Wegmans.

2. Stacy’s Parmesan Garlic and Herb Pita Chips

If you’re hankering for something crunchy and salty, these will do the trick. These baked pita chips, seasoned with Parmesan cheese, garlic, and parsley, are good straight out of the bag – but a bit dry. However, pair them with hummus or a dip and these sturdy snacks certainly won’t be suffering from limp-chip syndrome.

Other favorite flavors include Cinnamon Sugar (just the right amount of sweetness) and Multigrain (a nutty flavor from the rolled oats and sesame seeds), though these versions are slightly less friendly on the waistline.

Nutrition: (1 ounce, about 12 chips): 140 calories, 5g fat (0.5g saturated), 19g carbohydrates, 200mg sodium, 2g fiber, 4g protein

Price: $3.25 for a 6-ounce bag

Where to buy: Major retailers, including Safeway, Kroger, Whole Foods, Publix, Target, and CVS.

3. FAGE Total 2% Peach Yogurt

FAGE Greek Yogurt’s tagline, “ridiculously thick yogurt,” is not hyperbole; think the consistency of softened cream cheese, making for an incredibly rich, creamy texture, but their 2% line also comes in four different flavors in addition to plain — peach, strawberry, cherry, and honey — so while this all-natural snack delivers all the protein of a lowfat yogurt, it also tastes like dessert. In our humble opinion, no other yogurt — Greek or regular — comes close to FAGE (and we’ve tasted a lot of yogurt).

As might be expected, FAGE is pricier than the average yogurt, and sadly, the brand sometimes seems to be elusive in certain regions, but when you do find it, trust us — stock up. You will be glad to have an emergency stash when a craving hits.

Nutrition: (5.3-ounce serving): 130 calories, 2.5g fat (1.5g saturated), 18g carbohydrates, 40mg sodium, 11g protein

Price: about $1.79 per 5.3-ounce cup

Where to buy: Fine food and health food stores, including Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. Plain Fage Total 2% is also available at

4.Food Should Taste Good “The Works” Tortilla Chips

Like your bagel with everything? Try Food Should Taste Good’s “The Works,” with onion, garlic, poppy, and caraway seeds for a hearty, savory flavor with no trans fat, cholesterol, preservatives, or artificial colors or flavors. Also delicious: their multigrain chip, which delivers a robust, nutty punch; sweet potato, which riffs on the classic potato chip with a bit of sweetness; and chocolate, which tastes less like a Hershey bar and more like a very mild Mexican mole sauce, and is weirdly good after a few bites.

Nutrition: (1 ounce, about 10 chips): 130 calories, 6g fat (0.5g saturated), 18g carbohydrates, 80mg sodium, 3g fiber, 2g protein

Price: about $3.29 for a 6-ounce bag

Where to buy: Major retailers, including Whole Foods, Stop ‘n Shop, and ShopRite.

5.Nature’s Path Flax Plus Vanilla Almond Granola

High fiber, whole grain, and USDA certified organic to boot, Nature’s Path Flax Plus Vanilla Almond granola can be a sweet breakfast or a portable snack. Airier (and more enamel-friendly) than your usual rock-hard granola, this cereal has a good crunch and a pleasant vanilla taste. Prefer a nuttier granola? Try Nature’s Path Sunflower Agave Plus granola, which has sunflower seeds tucked into the mix.

Nutrition: (Vanilla Almond Flax Plus, 3/4 cup): 250 calories, 9g fat (1.5g saturated), 36g carbohydrates, 80mg sodium, 5g fiber, 6g protein

Price: about $4.59 per 11.5-ounce box

Where to buy: Major retailers, including Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Ralphs, and Vons

6.Better Bakes Triple Chocolate Chunk Cookie Dough

Ready-to-bake cookie dough, all-natural? Believe it. The Immaculate Baking Company’s Better Bakes cookie dough has no preservatives, trans fat, or artificial flavorings, and their pre-portioned pull-apart dough means you know exactly how much you’re eating — a good thing, considering how tasty these are. Their triple chocolate chunk flavor has three kinds of white and dark chocolate and kills a chocolate craving fast, and their chocolate chunk is the epitome of a perfect chocolate chip cookie. Twenty-four cookies per package, five flavors, zero resistance.

Nutrition: (Two 2-inch cookies): 140 calories, 7g fat (3.5 saturated), 18g carbohydrates, 140mg sodium, 1g fiber, 2g protein

Price: about $3.99 per pack

Where to buy: Retailers include Ralphs, Stop ‘n Shop, and Publix

7. Michael Seasons Baked Cheese Curls

Don’t let the “baked” part of the name fool you. Hell, don’t let the lack of preservatives, hydrogenated oils or artificial coloring or flavoring fool you, either. These taste exactly like those neon-orange cheese doodles you had as a kid — and we mean that in a great way. Crunchy, made with real cheese, and with 50 percent less fat than regular cheese puffs — and no cartoon cheetah spokescharacter necessary.

Nutrition: (1 cup): 130 calories, 4.5g fat (0.5 saturated), 20g carbohydrates, 200mg sodium, 2g fiber, 2g protein

Price: $2.89 for a 6-ounce bag

Where to buy: Retailers include Whole Foods, Kroger, Henry’s, Woodman’s, Roundy’s, and Wegmans.

8.Kashi Honey Sunshine

It may taste similar to Cap’n Crunch cereal (we mean this in a good way), but what kid’s puffed whole-grain cereal also comes with 6 grams of fiber per serving? No artificial preservatives or flavors here, just wildflower honey to give it a sweet taste. Totally child friendly, but buy your own box, too — you will want one of your own.

Nutrition: (3/4 cup): 100 calories, 1.5g fat, 25g carbohydrates, 140mg sodium, 6g fiber, 2g protein

Price: about $4.00 for a 12-ounce box

Where to buy: Major retailers, including Whole Foods, Target, Publix, and Wegmans.

9.Bear Naked Native Mango Agave Almond Granola

Eater beware: This is not a cereal; this is most definitely a snack, and one that should not be given to anyone who’s sweet-shy. Why? Although this tasty granola has no high-fructose corn syrup and only contains 6 grams of sugar per serving, this is one intensely sweet snack. Whole almonds are glazed in agave nectar (a plant derivative that’s used as an alternative to sugar), there are large chunks of sweetened dried mangoes, and whole grain oats are bound with honey and brown rice syrup. So while you may consider popping this by the handful (and why not? There are no preservatives, hydrogenated oils, trans fats, or artificial flavors), we’d suggest that you heat it up with milk or sprinkle it on top of oatmeal for a tempered sugar high.

Nutrition: (1/4 cup): 140 calories, 5g fat (1g saturated), 18g carbohydrates, 25 mg sodium, 3g fiber, 3g protein

Price: about $5.19 for a 12-ounce bag

Where to buy: Major retailers, including Publix, Whole Foods, and Ralphs.

10. PopChips Salt and Pepper Potato Chips

If a kettle chip and a soy crisp had a snack-baby, PopChips would be it. Thick-cut like a kettle chip, yet still airy like a soy crisp, PopChips are simply potatoes that’ve had heat and pressure applied to them. (Not fried, not baked. Yeah, we have no idea how they do it, either.) But despite their unusual cooking technique, their salt and pepper PopChips are crazy good. No preservatives, no artificial flavors or colors, no cholesterol, no saturated fat, and only 120 calories per serving.

Nutrition: (1 ounce, about 20 chips): 120 calories, 4g fat, 20g carbohydrates, 290 mg sodium, 1g fiber, 1g protein

Price: about $1.29 for a single-serving bag

Where to buy: Retailers include Safeway, Target, Whole Foods, and Jamba Juice.

11. Kashi Heart to Heart Golden Brown Maple Instant Oatmeal

A portable breakfast that’s tasty, full of fiber and protein, helps reduce cholesterol, and is made with natural ingredients? Kashi’s golden brown maple oatmeal tastes way better than the usual “just add hot water” variety. And knowing that a single serving comes with 100 percent of three B-vitamins and 20 percent of your day’s fiber, you’ll get that warm, fuzzy feeling from more than just hot cereal in your stomach.

Nutrition: (1.5-ounce packet): 160 calories, 2g fat, 33g carbohydrates, 100mg sodium, 5g fiber, 4g protein

Price: about $3.46 for an 8-serving box

Where to buy: Major retailers, including Whole Foods, Target, Publix, and Wegmans.

12. EnviroKidz Penguin Puffs

This ain’t your ordinary kids’ cereal, unless you normally buy one made with organic whole grains, brown rice and quinoa. However, this all makes for one really good cereal. Crunchy corn balls and crispy rice puffs, all sweetened with vanilla extract and organic evaporated cane juice make this a completely family-friendly snack with no artificial additives or preservatives. Plus, 1 percent of sales is donated to endangered species, habitat conservation, and environmental education for kids. Just another reason to eat up (not like you needed one in the first place, though).

Nutrition: (3/4 cup): 120 calories, 2g fat, 24g carbohydrates, 135g sodium, 2g fiber, 2g protein

Price: about $3.46 for an 8-serving box

Where to buy: Major retailers, including Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Ralphs, and Vons.

13. Orville Redenbacher’s Natural 50% Less Fat Butter Popcorn

If those ages-old reports of movie theater popcorn having four-digit calorie counts hasn’t permanently scared you off from butter popcorn, you might want to try this: Orville Redenbacher’s Natural line, with a 50 percent less fat, natural butter option. Tastes like the real deal, but with half the guilt.

If portion control is your problem, try their Lime and Salt version (currently only available only at Wal-Mart), which is parceled out into single-serving mini-bags. For 190 calories, you get five cups of popped popcorn, which tastes a bit reminiscent of a Tex-Mex margarita.

Nutrition: (50% Less Fat Natural Butter, 1/5 of the bag): 120 calories, 4g fat (2g saturated), 20 carbohydrates, 220mg sodium, 3g fiber, 2g protein

Price: about $2.69 per box

Where to buy: Major retailers and grocery stores.

14. TrueNorth Pecan Almond Peanut Clusters

One hundred percent natural, and with no preservatives, artificial colors or added colors, TrueNorth Pecan Almond Peanut Clusters are a good source of protein and fiber, with a fresh nutty flavor and toothsome texture, but nuts are naturally high in fat and calories, which means that these should similarly be enjoyed in moderation, like an after-dinner treat. A resealable pouch makes them a portable snack, but eater beware: they’re addictively good.

Nutrition: (1 ounce, about 5 clusters): 170 calories, 13g fat (2g saturated), 9g carbohydrates, 75mg sodium, 2g fiber, 5g protein

Price: about $3.29 for a 5.5-ounce bag

Where to buy: Major retailers, including Safeway, Sam’s Club, Publix, Whole Foods, Target and Shop ‘n Save.

15. Stretch Island Fruit Co. Strawberry Pomegranate Sunshine Fruit Leather

Made entirely of fruit puree and juice concentrates, Stretch Island Fruit Company fruit leathers are the grown-up version of a Fruit Roll-Up. Thicker than their sister snack (but just as child-friendly), they’re portable and quell sweet cravings fast. Plus, each leather equals a half-serving of fruit. Second-best thing to the real thing!

10 different flavors. We liked Strawberry Pomegranate Sunshine and Country Cranberry Raspberry.

Nutrition: (1 leather, about 14g): 45 calories, 0g fat, 11g carbohydrates, 0mg sodium, 1g fiber, 0g protein

Price: about $0.49 per leather

Where to buy: Major grocery chains and natural food stores, including Whole Foods, Henry’s, Ralphs, and Vons.

16. Kashi Dark Chocolate Coconut Fruit & Grain Bar

Though smaller than your average granola bar, this is no ordinary snack. It’s sweet, chewy, and has all the right textures: rolled grain base, topped with thick layer of chocolate, and studded with shredded coconut and walnut bits. If you’re truly looking for satiety, grab one of Kashi’s Roasted Almond Crunch granola bars, which come two to a pack and have 6 grams of protein, with that delicious nutty, honey flavor. But, if you’re looking to quell a sweet tooth, this is one portable dessert that won’t leave you hanging.

Note: This is available starting January 2009.

Nutrition: (1 bar): 120 calories, 4g fat (1.5g saturated), 20g carbohydrates, 50mg sodium, 4g fiber, 4g protein

Price: about $3.89 for a box of 6

Where to buy: Major retailers.

17. Miss Vickie’s Jalapeno Potato Chips

Sometimes, you just really want some classic Lay’s. If you’re craving that salty, slightly greasy light potato chip crunch, try Miss Vickie’s. Theirs are kettle cooked, and the thicker cut yields a more satisfying crunch than regular, airy potato chips. Plus, the jalapeno flavor offers a spicy zing that, while entirely manageable (and likely addictive to some), means that you probably won’t be able to mindlessly shovel these into your mouth — and maybe that’s a good thing.

Miss Vickie’s Jalapeno chips come in full-size 5-ounce bags and a travel-friendly 2.5-ounce size.

Nutrition: (1 ounce, about 15 chips): 150 calories, 8g fat (1g saturated), 16g carbohydrates, 200mg sodium, 1g fiber, 2g protein

Price: about $2.49 for a 5-ounce bag

Where to buy: Most major retailers.

*** I don’t eat everything on this list. Therefore my goal is certainly not to get you to do that. I have 5 or 6 things on this list that I actually have in my pantry. My goal is to give you options and alternatives. We should all eat not only what appeals to our taste buds but what will make out body healthy and happy inside-out.

I am a 26 year-old educator on the run of becoming all that I can in the time that I have. A few years ago, I embarked on a journey filled with spiritual discoveries, healthy habits, and a passion for education stronger than I've ever had. Learning what to do to become a better person have always interest me. One of my passions is to know a little about everything in order to gain the capability of forming my own opinion so others won't have to do it for me. Another passion that was buried deep inside finally came to the surface and allowed me to see the adventurous side of me. I am on a journey to see the world and do things outside of my comfort zone. I will write all about it along the way!

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