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Smart Snacks for Weight Loss

Snacks have earned a bad reputation in recent years with the growing acknowledgment of a link between mindless snacking and excess weight. But this doesn’t mean snacks are the enemy of calorie counting; in fact, if you are strategic, snacks can help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.

Calorie Counting: Curbing Hunger With Snacks

Whether you have a lot of weight to lose or just a little, scheduling snacks is helpful when hunger strikes. Of course, your snack calories have to be included in your overall calorie plan. If you were to eat an additional 100 calories per day as a snack, that could add up to one pound over the course of a month.

On the other hand, strategic snacking that is included within your daily calorie counting helps control hunger and keeps you on track with your weight-loss goals, says Gail Curtis, assistant professor, at Wake Forest University Health Sciences in Winston-Salem, N.C. Curtis is the former director of the university weight-management program for people with a BMI of 27 and higher and continues to work with people who are trying to lose 100 or more pounds.

Here are many options for making snacks a satisfying and nutritionally smart part of counting calories; for variety, try a different idea each day:

  • Prepare snacks for when you’re on the run. “If you travel a lot or are on the go, we talk about having ‘car foods’ — good 100-calorie snacks in your car, because if you get hungry and have something healthy available, you’re going to eat it,” says Curtis. You can buy 100-calorie snack packs to keep on hand or save money by making your own. For example, 100 calories equals about 2 tablespoons of hummus and 14 baby carrots, one medium apple, or three wheat crackers with peanut butter.
  • Squelch hunger with protein-rich snacks. “When snacking, one thing that is helpful is to include a little bit of protein,” says Emily Banes, RD, clinical dietitian at the Houston Northwest Medical Center in Houston, Texas. “Cheese and crackers, string cheese, apple and peanut butter — the protein will take some of the edge off the hunger pain.”
  • Use snack portions to satisfy a food urge. Depending on what you are craving, Banes recommends picking from among these yummy snacks:
    • Low-calorie yogurt or frozen yogurt
    • Sugar-free pudding with a graham cracker to dip
    • Hummus and pita bread or veggies to dip
    • A handful of pretzels
    • A small square of dark chocolate
  • Pick “water-based” snacks to give you more volume. The biggest bang for your calorie buck are foods with high water content because they will fill you up with fewer calories — fruits, vegetables, and soups are all filling, low-calorie options.
  • Try snacks that boost your fiber intake. Dietitian Donna L. Weihofen, RD, MS, a nutritionist at the University of Wisconsin Hospital & Clinics in Madison, recommends high-fiber snack bars. “You have to read labels because some are really high in calories and fat,” cautions Weihofen. She suggests whipping up your own high-fiber homemade bar cookies for snacks if possible.
  • Use vending machine savvy. If you find yourself caught without snacks when unexpectedly working late, for example, you may come face-to-face with a vending machine. There are still good options for snacking in these circumstances. Says Banes, “Look for pretzels, cheese, or peanut butter and crackers. One of these would be a better option than the M&Ms or the Kit Kat.” Failing that, look for snacks that have more air, such as cheese puffs or popcorn. According to one study, people who eat snacks with more air in them end up eating about 20 percent fewer calories.

If you’ve ever snacked your way through a jar of peanut butter in a day, you’re probably pretty damn convinced that snacking is your worst enemy when it comes to weight loss.

But yeah, no. Snacks (you know, the healthy, well-portioned kind) can help ensure you don’t get so damn hungry you just say “screw it!” and give up on your whole diet.

Still, whipping up your own perfectly portioned snack is way easier said than done. (Honestly, who knew a serving of peanut butter was only two measly tablespoons?!)

Make things a whole lot easier on yourself and whip up one of these healthy snacks for weight-loss instead. Some are low-cal/high fiber and some are high fat/high protein (looking at you, keto dieters). Basically, there’s something for everyone—and they’re all nutritionist-approved or direct from your favorite healthy food bloggers.

1. Avocado Fries With Lime Dipping Sauce

SkinnyTaste

Using an air fryer or oven to bake these crispy fries makes them way healthier than the deep-fried variety.

Get the recipe

Per serving: 197 calories, 12.5 g fat (2 g saturated), 15 g carbs, 1.5 g sugar, 521.5 mg sodium, 4 g fiber, 7 g protein.

2. Mango-Raspberry Fruit Roll Ups

SkinnyTaste

Making your own fruit tape/leather/roll up means you’ll get all the sweetness without all the added sugar.

Get the recipe

Per serving: 39 calories, 0 g fat, 10 g carbs, 7.5 g sugar, 0.5 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 0 g protein.

3. Sweet trail mix

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“My ideal healthy snack combines a little of each of the macronutrients—protein, carbohydrates, and fats,” says Kath Younger, RD. “I love to rely on the combination of nuts and fruits, either fresh fruit or dried fruit for a longer shelf life. A small handful of trail mix is one of my favorite snacks that won’t spoil my appetite for my next meal.”

Make it: Combine equal parts unsweetened dried fruit and unsalted roasted nuts (sorry, no M&Ms this time). Reach for a quarter cup of the mixture when you need a boost.

Per serving: 163 calories, 9 g fat (1 g saturated), 19 g carbs, 13 g sugar, 3 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 5 g protein.

4. Double chocolate banana bread bars

Ambitious Kitchen

These bars look decadent, but it’s only an illusion—bananas, almond flour, and coconut flour round out the ingredients in this sweet Paleo-approved treat. As an added bonus, the recipe offers substitutes for making it vegan.

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Per serving (1 bar): 159 calories, 9.1 g fat, 15.5 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 3 g protein

5. Yogurt with nuts and berries

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Younger adds a sprinkle of nuts to protein-rich fat-free yogurt for some satiating healthy fats. A small handful of berries or another chopped fruit will add texture and sweetness, plus filling fiber. It might sound basic, but it’s a classic snack for a reason.

Make it: Combine 1/2 cup Greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons chopped nuts, and 1/2 cup berries in a bowl.

Per serving: 205 calories, 11 g fat (0 g saturated), 13 g carbs, 7 g sugar, 43 mg sodium, 1 g fiber, 16 g protein.

6. Air Fryer Tostones

SkinnyTaste

The air fryer saves the day again, making twice-fried plantains a healthy snack. These soft “chips” are perfect for dipping into guacamole.

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Per serving: 102 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated), 27 g carbs, 12 g sugar, 250 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 1 g protein.

7. Healthy carrot cake oatmeal cookies

Ambitious Kitchen

Don’t avoid these because they have the words “cake” and “cookies” in the name…this healthy spin on carrot cake cookies is packed with shredded carrots, fiber-rich walnuts and raisins, and heart-healthy oats for a guilt-free version of one of your favorite desserts.

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Per serving (1 cookie): 136 calories, 6.6 g fat, 9 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 2.4 g protein

8. Sliced tomato with a sprinkle of feta and olive oil

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This savory dish will make your taste buds happy. Tomatoes pack umami flavor, while feta adds tang and a little bit of salt.

Make it: Slice 1 medium tomato (or slice up 1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes), and top with 1 ounce feta and 1 teaspoon olive oil.

Per serving: 133 calories, 11 g fat (5 g saturated), 5 g carbs, 4 g sugar, 265 mg sodium, 1 g fiber, 5 g protein.

9. No-bake superfood energy bars

Ambitious Kitchen

These energy bars won’t give you superpowers, though they do boast an impressive roster of superfoods—think pistachios, chia seeds, Medjool dates, and goji berries. You won’t be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, but you’ll be able to tackle that late afternoon conference call with ease.

Get the recipe

Per serving (1 bar): 234 calories, 14.2 g fat, 26.9 g carbs, 6 g fiber, 4.5 g protein

10. Shrimp and cocktail sauce

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Shrimp are a great source of lean protein, and it’s easy to find them pre-cooked in any supermarket. (Plus, it makes snack time feel way fancier!)

Make it: Combine eight cooked, peeled, deveined shrimp with 1/4 cup cocktail sauce for dipping.

Per serving: 126 calories, 1 g fat (5 g saturated), 16 g carbs, 4 g sugar, 432 mg sodium, 1 g fiber, 14 g protein.

11. Chunky healthy granola

Ambitious Kitchen

Skip the store-bought stuff and take the plunge into homemade granola: you’ll cut way back on sugar and other unnecessary ingredients, leaving plenty of room for a variety of seeds and nuts (all high in fiber and omega-3s).

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Per serving (¼ cup): 210 calories, 12.3 g fat, 22.9 g carbs, 3.4 g fiber, 4.1 g protein

12. Baby carrots with “everything” hummus

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Carrots and hummus are a great snack as-is, but adding a sprinkle of everything bagel seasoning (like this version from Trader Joe’s!) will make your taste buds extra happy.

Make it: Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of everything bagel seasoning on top of 1/4 cup of regular hummus. Eat with 1 cup of baby carrots.

Per serving: 236 calories, 12 g fat (5 g saturated), 27 g carbs, 12 g sugar, 416 mg sodium, 10 g fiber, 6 g protein.

13. Vegetarian Black Bean Taco Cups

Ambitious Kitchen

If you need a slightly bigger snack that packs a protein punch, try these mini black bean taco cups. They’re technically an appetizer, but all that means is you’ll have plenty of servings to freeze and grab whenever you need a filling bite.

Get the recipe

Per serving (1 cup): 134 calories, 5.4 g fat, 17.6 g carbs, 2.6 g fiber, 4.4 g protein

14. ‘Banana split’

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Robin Plotkin, RD, suggests a healthy version of the classic dessert by halving a banana, then topping it with yogurt and nuts. It’s a delicious combo of carbs, protein, and healthy fat—more importantly, it’s super-fun to eat.

Make it: Slice a small banana in half vertically. Top the open banana face with 1/4 cup non-fat Greek yogurt and 2 tablespoons of chopped walnuts.

Per serving: 242 calories, 10 g fat (1 g saturated), 33 g carbs, 18 g sugar, 23 mg sodium, 4 g fiber, 10 g protein.

15. Green goddess hummus

Cookie and Kate

If you’re just kind of “meh” about regular ol’ hummus, try this Green Goddess kind: fresh herbs give it a gorgeous color and a serious flavor boost. Enjoy with raw veggies to increase your fiber without adding fat or calories.

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Per serving (¼ cup): 142 calories, 9.6 g fat, 11.6 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 4.5 g protein

16. Egg on toast

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This healthy snack is great for breakfast lovers—it’s as satisfying as a meal, but the slightly smaller portion size won’t weigh you down. Plotkin recommends using hard-boiled eggs for convenience, which you can make ahead or buy. If you have access to a stove, you can also opt for a scrambled or fried egg.

Make it: Toast a slice of whole-grain toast. Top with one egg, cooked to your preference.

Per serving: 182 calories, 6 g fat (2 g saturated), 20 g carbs, 4 g sugar, 221 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 11 g protein.

17. Crispy sweet potato fries

Cookie and Kate

Fast food fries are a classic snack-attack weakness. That’s why you should bake up some sweet potato fries instead, for a snack that’s crispy and tender without all the grease.

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Per serving: 263 calories, 7.1 g fat, 47.4 g carbs, 6.8 g fiber, 3.6 g protein

18. Chocolate milk

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This might seem like just something for kids, but it’s actually a pretty great snack—especially for replenishing post-workout thanks to the simple carbs from the chocolate and the milk’s lactose.

Make it: Stir 1 tablespoon chocolate syrup into 1 cup 2 percent milk.

Per serving: 174 calories, 5 g fat (3 g saturated), 25 g carbs, 21 g sugar, 134 mg sodium, 1 g fiber, 8 g protein.

19. Peach and honey popsicles

Cookie and Kate

Sure, topping Greek yogurt with fruit is a staple healthy snack. But if you need to switch things up, these popsicles take all the health benefits of yogurt parfait and cram them into flavorful frozen treats perfect for enjoying poolside.

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Per serving (1 popsicle): 170 calories, 4.4 g fat, 31.3 g carbs, 1.3 g fiber, 3.9 g protein

20. White beans and olive tapenade

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“Lately, I’ve been obsessed with kalamata olive tapenade,” says Kendra Tolbert, RD. “It’s a great combo of fiber, fat, protein, and resistant starch that’ll keep you full and satisfied.” Tolbert eats it by the spoonful, but you can also scoop it up with a few whole-grain pita chips or cucumber slices.

Make it: Mix 1 teaspoon canned tapenade (such as Divinia) with 1/2 cup canned white beans (drained and rinsed).

Per serving: 126 calories, 4 g fat (0 g saturated), 20 g carbs, 1 g sugar, 121 mg sodium, 6 g fiber, 6 g protein.

21. Protein cookie dough

Eating Bird Food

Maybe the thought of faux-cookie dough (made with chickpeas, vanilla protein powder, and almond butter) doesn’t appeal to you…but maybe you’ve never actually tried it. I mean, when it comes to healthy cookie dough or no cookie dough, we’ll take the healthy kind, thanksverymuch.

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Per serving (¼ cup): 164 calories, 5 g fat, 19 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 10 g protein

22. Dates and pistachios

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“It’s the usual fruit and nuts combo, but a little more sophisticated,” says Tolbert. Dates have a honey-like sweetness, which combines with the strong flavor of pistachios into a snack that feels like dessert.

Make it: Combine 2 pitted dates with 2 tablespoons pistachios.

Per serving: 213 calories, 7 g fat (1 g saturated), 40 g carbs, 33 g sugar, 35 mg sodium, 5 g fiber, 4 g protein.

23. Almond Joy protein balls

Eating Bird Food

It’s almost impossible to avoid the candy bowl at the office around 3 p.m. every day—unless you’ve got one or two of these Almond Joy-flavored bites sitting in the fridge calling your name. Indulge without spoiling your appetite for later.

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Per serving (1 ball): 109 calories, 7 g fat, 9 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 5 g protein

24. Edamame with sea salt

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Plotkin loves sprinkling edamame, in its shell or out, with a bit of sea salt. In addition to plant-based protein, you get fiber and a good dose of potassium.

Make it: Drizzle 1/2 cup shelled edamame with 1 teaspoon olive oil and a pinch of sea salt.

Per serving: 140 calories, 8 g fat (1 g saturated), 8 g carbs, 2 g sugar, 481 mg sodium, 1 g fiber, 8 g protein.

25. Baked kale chips

Eating Bird Food

If you’ve got a savory tooth, it’s tough to pass up chips or crackers at snack time. Roasting kale chips is a great way to get that salty crunch without all the grease.

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Per serving (1 bunch): 184 calories, 14 g fat, 7 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 3 g protein

26. PB-chocolate apple ‘nachos’

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This sounds crazy-indulgent, but it’s actually a well-balanced snack, says Plotkin. You’ll get protein and lots of fiber, which will help slow the digestion of the little bit of added sugar from dark chocolate (preventing a mid-afternoon crash).

Make it: Thinly slice a medium apple, then drizzle them with 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter and 1/2 ounce melted dark chocolate.

Per serving: 253 calories, 13 g fat (4 g saturated), 35 g carbs, 25 g sugar, 74 mg sodium, 7 g fiber, 4 g protein.

27. Chocolate-covered banana pops

Eating Bird Food

Something about eating food on a stick just makes it more fun—especially when that food is covered in chocolate and tastes like it should have way more calories than it does.

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Per serving (1 pop): 144 calories, 9 g fat, 21 g carbs, 6 g fiber, 2 g protein

28. Microwave egg taco

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Get creative with your microwave and make a tasty snack with enough protein to carry you to your next meal.

Make it: “Crack one egg into a microwave-safe mug and cook for 90 seconds,” says Plotkin. Immediately stir in 1/2 ounce shredded cheddar, then serve inside a small whole-wheat tortilla.

Per serving: 182 calories, 10 g fat (5 g saturated), 11 g carbs, 1 g sugar, 360 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 11 g protein.

29. Vitamin C tropical green smoothie

Jeanette’s Healthy Living

You don’t have to wait until sick season to whip up this vitamin C smoothie, but it would definitely help ward off the plague once it starts going around the office. Plus, it just looks pretty!

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Per serving (⅕ of recipe): 283 calories, 7.1 g fat, 53 g carbs, 11.7 g fiber, 8.2 g protein

30. Roasted chickpeas

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“If you’re craving something salty and crunchy, roasted beans are a much better option than chips thanks to their combo of protein and fiber, says Jessica Levinson, RD.

Make it: Rinse and drain a can of chickpeas, then toss them with 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, pepper, and whatever spice you want. Roast at 400° F for 30 minutes. Let cool slightly, then eat. One batch makes three servings.

Per serving: 160 calories, 8 g fat (1 g saturated), 17 g carbs, 2 g sugar, 292 mg sodium, 4 g fiber, 5 g protein.

31. Avocado chocolate mousse

Chocolate Covered Katie

Got ripe avocados? Tired of making guacamole? Put those avocados to unconventionally-good use by mixing them with chocolate for this healthy, creamy, totally-doesn’t-taste-like-avocados mousse.

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Per serving: 146 calories, 13.1 g fat, 11.1 g carbs, 7.2 g fiber, 3.1 g protein

32. Almond butter crackers

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“Peanut butter crackers serve as a quick option for people on the run, but the pre-packaged snack can have many hidden ingredients and calories,” says Shamera Robinson, RD. DIY it instead.

Make it: Spread 1 tablespoon almond butter (or any nut or seed butter) between 1 ounce whole grain crackers.

Per serving: 233 calories, 12 g fat (2 g saturated), 23 g carbs, 2 g sugar, 227 mg sodium, 5 g fiber, 8 g protein.

33. Fruit salad with citrus mint dressing

Girl Gone Gourmet

We know fruit salad can get B-O-R-I-N-G when you’re eating it day after day. This recipe jazzes up beautiful berries and banana slices with the bright flavors of citrus and mint to make your boring fruit salad a bold one.

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Per serving (¼ of recipe): 117 calories, 0.8 g fat, 28.8 g carbs, 5 g fiber, 1.7 g protein

34. Homemade popcorn

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“Popcorn is a great snack to fill up on,” says Robinson, thanks to all the fiber. And you don’t have to stick with the plain stuff, either. “Try sprinkling garlic powder and dried rosemary (or Italian seasoning) for extra flavor,” suggests Robinson.

Make it: Pop 3 tablespoons of popcorn kernels in 1/2 Tbsp canola oil in a large saucepan on the stove. Top with your favorite herbs or spices.

Per serving: 161 calories, 6 g fat (1 g saturated), 28 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 15 mg sodium, 5 g fiber, 4 g protein.

35. Banana mocha smoothie

Girl Gone Gourmet

Now you don’t have to choose between your midday moccachino and something nutritious—this smoothie combines cold brew coffee with frozen bananas and cocoa powder for a healthy snack option with a jolt of caffeine.

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Per serving: 288 calories, 7.2 g fat, 46.9 g carbs, 4.9 g fiber, 14.3 g protein

36. DIY ranch dip with veggies

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“Greek yogurt it a great high-protein snack that is usually sweet. However, you can easily turn that into a savory snack by adding ranch-dip seasoning mix,” says Kamaria Mason, RD.

Make it: Stir 1 tablespoon ranch seasoning mix (such as Hidden Valley) into 1/2 cup low-fat Greek yogurt. Use 1 cup carrot or cucumber sticks for dipping.

Per serving: 142 calories, 3 g fat (1 g saturated), 18 g carbs, 9 g sugar, 395 mg sodium, 4 g fiber, 9 g protein.

37. Garlic dill sunflower dip

Minimalist Baker

If you’re not into chickpeas, but you’re craving the texture of hummus, give sunflower dip a shot—it’s made basically the same way, but with seeds instead of chickpeas. And, just like hummus, it tastes great with raw veggies.

Get the recipe

Per serving (¼ cup): 212 calories, 19.5 g fat, 7 g carbs, 2.5 g fiber, 5.7 g protein

38. Cottage cheese with almonds and honey

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“This creamy-crunchy-sweet combo is second to none,” says Robinson. The cottage cheese is rich in protein, while almonds add crunch and healthy fats. And a hint of honey makes things sweet without going overboard on added sugar.

Make it: Top 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese with 2 tablespoons slivered almonds and 1 teaspoon honey.

Per serving: 196 calories, 10 g fat (2 g saturated), 12 g carbs, 10 g sugar, 363 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 17 g protein.

39. Golden milk snack bites

Minimalist Baker

If you have no clue what golden milk is, you’re missing out. This dairy-free drink, usually served hot, is loaded with anti-inflammatory turmeric and ginger–and now you can enjoy the flavors (and health benefits) of golden milk in portable little snack bites that are low-cal, low-carb, and low-fat.

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Per serving (1 bite): 96 calories, 6.5 g fat, 7.5 g carbs, 1.6 g fiber, 2.9 g protein

40. Jicama sticks and guacamole

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“Guacamole usually tops the list of favorite dips, but tortilla chips aren’t the only crunchy thing you can pair with it,” says Robinson. “Try dipping a fresh veggie!” Jicama is sweet and crunchy, and can be a nice alternative to the usual carrot or cucumber sticks.

Make it: Slice up jicama to get 1 cup of matchstick slices, and dip into 1/4 cup guacamole.

Per serving: 137 calories, 8 g fat (0 g saturated), 16 g carbs, 2 g sugar, 91 mg sodium, 10 g fiber, 2 g protein.

41. Creamy dragon fruit smoothie bowl

Minimalist Baker

This smoothie bowl is a great way to experiment with dragon fruit if you’ve never tried it before, blending the tropical fruit with raspberries, bananas, and protein powder for a filling snack.

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Per serving (1 bowl): 225 calories, 1.6 g fat, 48 g carbs, 10.4 g fiber, 8.1 g protein

42. Beef or turkey jerky with raisins

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“The ideal snack is portable and packed with satisfying lean protein,” says Nicole Rodriguez, RD. Beef jerky fits the bill, and most brands pack at least 12 grams of protein for less than 100 calories. Look for jerky with less than 400 mg sodium per ounce. Pair with raisins for some energizing carbs and filling fiber.

Make it: Combine 1 ounce of jerky with 2 tablespoons raisins.

Per serving: 147 calories, 1 g fat (1 g saturated), 19 g carbs, 3 g sugar, 390 mg sodium, 1 g fiber, 15 g protein.

43. Sugar-free coconut carob bars

Minimalist Baker

Put down the Hershey’s bar and pick up one of these sugar-free bars instead. Made with nutrient-rich carob powder (which is similar to cocoa powder but sweeter), it’s a powerhouse of tasty but good-for-you ingredients. You could even couple it with some fresh fruit or a small serving of nonfat Greek yogurt.

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Per serving (1 bar): 120 calories, 11.2 g fat, 5 g carbs, 2.6 g fiber, 1.2 g protein

44. Pear and string cheese

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If you love fancy cheese plates for their combination of sweet, salty, and creamy flavors, you’ll love this less-fussy snack. Pears have natural sugar and lots of fiber, while string cheese is an easy way to get some satiating fat and protein in on the go.

Make it: Slice one medium pear. Eat with one low-fat string cheese (such as Sargento).

Per serving: 182 calories, 6 g fat (4 g saturated), 27 g carbs, 17 g sugar, 172 mg sodium, 6 g fiber, 8 g protein.

45. Watermelon sashimi

Minimalist Baker

If you love sushi, but you’re looking for morning snack material, this watermelon sashimi hits the spot. At just 16 calories per bite, you can fill up without filling out.

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Per serving (1 piece): 16 calories, 0.8 g fat, 2.2 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 0.3 g protein

46. Blueberry and peach green tea popsicles

Easy Cheesy Vegetarian

Too hot outside for your usual afternoon cup of green tea? Freeze your favorite bev into popsicle molds with fresh summer blueberries and peaches, and enjoy a refreshing treat chock full of antioxidants.

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Per serving (1 popsicle): 33 calories, 0.2 g fat, 8.2 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 0.4 g protein

47. Cajun-spiced savory trail mix

Easy Cheesy Vegetarian

Trade your standard trail mix for this cajun-spiced one, which throws some unique mix-ins (edamame, pumpkin seeds, and crushed tortilla chips) together with paprika, cayenne, and crushed chili flakes for a snack that will fire you up during your afternoon slump.

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Per serving (1 popsicle): 203 calories, 14.4 g fat, 13.5 g carbs, 2.8 g fiber, 8 g protein

48. Homemade chocolate chip granola bars

Just A Taste

Yeah, this one’s a classic—but for good reason. Homemade granola bars cut back on sugar and fat without sacrificing flavor, and offer fiber (rolled oats), omega 3s (almonds and flaxseed meal), and a much-needed pick-me-up (chocolate chips).

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Per serving (1 bar): 240 calories, 14 g fat, 28 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 4 g protein

49. Five-minute healthy strawberry frozen yogurt

Just A Taste

That froyo shop down the street is tempting, but when you can make your own froyo at home in five minutes (at just 100 calories per cup), why would you pay money for a snack loaded with sugar and artificial ingredients?

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Per serving (1 cup): 100 calories, 0 g fat, 27 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 2 g protein

50. Banana ice cream

SkinnyTaste

Okay, this one is a bit of a cheat: it’s not actually “ice cream,” per se, but it is frozen banana blended into an ice cream consistency and finished off with your favorite toppings for a healthy and low-cal alternative.

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Per serving (1 banana): 105 calories, 0 g fat, 27 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 1 g protein

51. Pumpkin pie dip

SkinnyTaste

All the yummy, fall flavors of pumpkin pie in a lightened-up package, perfect for dipping tart green apples into or spreading on a fat-free graham cracker.

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Per serving (½ cup): 105 calories, 4 g fat, 21 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 4 g protein

52. Coconut lime raspberry chia pudding

SkinnyTaste

Don’t have the cash to take a beach vacation this year? No worries, eating this chia pudding—with summery coconut, lime, and raspberry—will have you convinced you’re on an island somewhere, and those plumped-up little chia seeds will satisfy your appetite for hours.

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Per serving (1 cup): 157 calories, 10 g fat, 15 g carbs, 10 g fiber, 4 g protein

53. Cranberry pistachio dark chocolate bark

SkinnyTaste

Heads-up, chocolate lovers: this cranberry pistachio bark is loaded with antioxidants, vitamin C, fiber, and potassium. Pair it with a handful of fat-free berries to round out this sweet afternoon indulgence.

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Per serving (1 oz): 126 calories, 8.1 g fat, 15.3 g carbs, 2.1 g fiber, 2.6 g protein

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Snacks play a major and growing role in children’s diets. Between 1977 and 2006, the number of calories that children consumed from snacks increased by 113 calories per day.

Below are ideas for teachers, caregivers, program directors, and parents for serving healthy snacks and beverages to children in the classroom, in after-school programs, at soccer games, and elsewhere. Some ideas may be practical for large groups of children, while other ideas may only work for small groups, depending on the work and cost involved.

Healthy Eating Tip: serve snacks with fun plates, napkins, cups, or straws or have a tasting party where children can vote for their favorite healthy snacks.

Fruits and Vegetables

Most of the snacks served to children should be fruits and vegetables, since most kids do not eat the recommended number of servings fruits and vegetables each day. Eating fruits and vegetables lowers the risk of heart disease, cancer, and high blood pressure. Fruits and vegetables also contain important nutrients like vitamins A and C and fiber.

Serving fresh fruits and vegetables can seem challenging. However, good planning and the growing number of shelf-stable fruits and vegetable products on the market make it easier. Though some think fruits and vegetables are costly snacks, they are actually less costly than many other less-healthful snacks on a per-serving basis. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average cost of a serving of fruit or vegetable (all types – fresh, frozen, and canned) is 25 cents per serving. This is a good deal compared with a 69-cent single-serve bag of potato chips or an 80-cent candy bar. Try lots of different fruits and vegetables and prepare them in various ways to find out what your kids like best.

Fruits

Fruit is naturally sweet, so most kids love it. Fruit can be served whole, sliced, cut in half, cubed, or in wedges. Canned, frozen, and dried fruits often need little preparation.

  • Apples (it can be helpful to use an apple corer)
  • Apricots
  • Bananas
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cherries
  • Clementines
  • Grapefruit
  • Grapes (red, green, or purple)
  • Honeydew Melon
  • Kiwis (cut in half and give each child a spoon to eat it)
  • Mangoes
  • Nectarines
  • Oranges
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Pineapple
  • Plums
  • Strawberries
  • Tangerines
  • Watermelon

Applesauce (Unsweetened), Fruit Cups, and Canned Fruit. These have a long shelf life and are low-cost, easy, and healthy if canned in juice or light syrup. One example of unsweetened applesauce is Mott’s Unsweetened Apple. Dole and Del Monte offer a variety of single-serve fruit bowls.

Dried Fruit. Try raisins, apricots, apples, cranberries, pineapple, papaya, and others with little or no added sugars.

Frozen Fruit. Try freezing grapes or buy frozen blueberries, strawberries, peaches, and mangoes.

Fruit Leathers. Some brands of fruit snacks are more like candy than fruit, and should be avoided due to their high content of added sugars and lack of fruit. Brands to avoid include Fruit Rollups, Farley’s Fruit Snacks, Sunkist Fruit Gems, Starburst Fruit Chews, Mamba Fruit Chews, Jolly Rancher Fruit Chews, and Original Fruit Skittles. Try Natural Value Fruit Leathers and Stretch Island Fruit Leathers, which come in a variety of flavors and don’t have added sugars.

Fruit Salad. Get kids to help make a fruit salad. Use a variety of colorful fruits to add to the appeal.

Smoothies. Blend fruit with juice, yogurt or milk, and ice. Many store-made smoothies have added sugars and are not healthy choices.

Deliveries. Deliveries of fresh fruit or platters of cut-up fruit are a convenient option offered by some local grocery stores.

Vegetables

Vegetables can be served raw with hummus, dip or salad dressing:

  • Broccoli
  • Carrot sticks or Baby Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery Sticks
  • Cucumber
  • Peppers (green, red, or yellow)
  • Snap Peas
  • Snow Peas
  • String Beans
  • Tomato slices or grape or cherry tomatoes
  • Yellow Summer Squash slices
  • Zucchini slices

Dips. Try low-fat salad dressings, like fat-free Ranch or Thousand Island, store-bought light dips, hummus (which comes in dozens of flavors), bean dips, guacamole, salsa, or peanut butter.

Salad. Make a salad or set out veggies like a salad bar and let the kids build their own salads.

Veggie Pockets. Cut whole wheat pitas in half and let kids add veggies with hummus, bean dip, or dressing.

Ants on a Log. Let kids spread peanut butter on celery (with a plastic knife) and add raisins.

Healthy Grains (bread, crackers, cereals, etc.)

Though most kids eat plenty of grain products, too many of those grains are cookies, snack cakes, sugary cereals, and other refined grains that are high in sugars or saturated fat. Try to serve mostly whole grains, which provide more fiber, vitamins, and minerals than refined grains. In addition, try to limit added sugars to less than 35% by weight1,2 eliminate trans fats, and keep the saturated and trans fat low.

Note: Cookies, snack cakes, and chips should be saved for occasional treats, given their poor nutritional quality.

Whole Wheat English Muffins, Pita, or Tortillas. Stuff them with veggies or dip them in hummus or bean dip.

Breakfast Cereal. Either dry or with low-fat milk, whole grain cereals like Cheerios, Grape-Nuts, Raisin Bran, Mini Wheats, and Wheaties make good snacks. Look for cereals with no more than 6g of sugars per serving. Here are some recommendations for buying breakfast cereal.

Crackers. Whole-grain crackers like Triscuits, which come in different flavors or thin crisps (or similar woven wheat crackers), Kalvi Rye crackers, or whole wheat Matzos can be served alone or with toppings, like low-fat cheese, peanut butter, or low-fat, reduced-sodium luncheon meat.

Rice Cakes. Look for rice cakes made from brown (whole grain) rice. They come in many flavors, and can be served with or without toppings.

Popcorn. Look for low-fat popcorn in a bag or microwave popcorn. Or you can air pop the popcorn and season it, e.g., by spraying it with vegetable oil spray and adding parmesan cheese, garlic powder, or other non-salt spices.

Granola and Cereal Bars. Look for whole grain granola bars that are low in sugars and moderate in calories, like Barbara’s Granola Bars (cinnamon raisin, oats and honey, and carob chip flavors), Nature Valley Crunchy Granola Bars (cinnamon, oats ‘n honey, maple brown sugar, and peanut butter flavors), Nature Valley Chewy Trail Mix Bars (fruit and nut flavor), and Quaker Chewy Granola Bar (peanut butter and chocolate chunk flavor). Check out more products here.

Low-Fat Dairy Foods

Dairy foods are a great source of calcium, which can help to build strong bones. However, dairy products also are the biggest sources of artery-clogging saturated fat in kids’ diets. To protect children’s bones and hearts, make sure all dairy foods served are low-fat or fat-free.

Yogurt. Look for brands that are low-fat or fat-free, moderate in sugars (no more than about 30 grams of sugars in a 6-oz. cup), and high in calcium (at least 25% of daily value for calcium in a 6-oz. cup). Examples include Danimals Drinkable Low-Fat Yogurt, Go-Gurt by Yoplait, or cups of low-fat or non-fat yogurt from Stonyfield Farm, Dannon, Horizon, and similar store brands. Low-fat or non-fat yogurt also can be served with fresh or frozen fruit or low-fat granola.

Low-Fat Cheese. Cheese provides calcium, but usually its saturated fat price tag is too high. Cheese is the number two source of heart-damaging saturated fat in children’s diets. Even with low-fat and reduced-fat cheese, be sure to serve with other foods like fruit, vegetables, or whole grain crackers. Choose reduced-fat cheeses like Trader Joe’s Armenian Style Braided; Borden or Sargento Light Mozzarella string cheese; Frigo Light Cheese Heads; Kraft Twist-Ums; Polly-O Twisterellas; the Laughing Cow’s Light Original Mini Babybel; or Cabot 50% Light Vermont Cheddar.

Other Snack Ideas

Nuts. Nuts are a healthy choice, but since nuts are calorie dense, it is best to serve them along with another snack such as fruit. A small handful of nuts is a reasonable serving size. Examples include peanuts, pistachios, almonds, walnuts, cashews, or soy nuts.

WARNING: A small but growing number of kids have severe peanut and/or tree nut allergies. Before bringing in peanuts, peanut butter, or other nuts as a snack, check to make sure none of the children has an allergy.

Trail Mix. Trail mixes are easy to make and store well in a sealed container. Items to include: low-fat granola, whole grain cereals, peanuts, cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and dried fruits like raisins, apricots, apples, pineapple, or cranberries.

Healthy Beverages

Water. Water should be the main drink served to kids at snack times. Water satisfies thirst and does not have sugar or calories. (Plus, it is low-cost for care-givers!) If kids are used to getting sweetened beverages or juice at snack times, it may take a little time for them to get used to drinking water.

Note: Water should be the main drink served to kids at snack times.

Seltzer. Carbonated drinks like seltzer, sparkling water, and club soda are healthy options. They do not contain the sugars, calories, and caffeine of sodas. For an occasional treat, mix them with equal amounts of 100% fruit juice.

Low-Fat and Fat-Free Milk. Milk provides key nutrients, such as calcium and vitamin D. Choose fat-free (skim) or low-fat (1%) milk to avoid the heart-damaging saturated fat found in whole and 2% (reduced-fat) milk. Healthy Eating Research recommends only unflavored milk, especially for children ages 2-4. Flavored milk should have no more than 130 calories per 8-ounce serving to help limit calories and added sugars. Single-serve containers of chocolate or other flavored whole or 2% milk drinks can be too high in calories (400-550 calories) and saturated fat (1/3 of a day’s worth) to be a healthy beverage for kids.

Soy and Rice Drinks. For children who prefer not to drink cow’s milk, calcium-fortified soy drinks are good choices.

Fruit Juice. Avoid the added sugars of juice drinks, punches, fruit cocktail drinks, or lemonade. Many beverages like Capri Sun, V8-Splash, Tropicana Twisters, Sunny Delight, Kool Aid Jammers, Hi-C, or juice drinks from Very Fine, Welch’s or Snapple are easily mistaken for juice. However, those beverages are more like soda than juice – they are merely sugar water with a few tablespoons of added juice.

Serving whole fruit is more nutritious than fruit juice. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children ages 1-6 years old drink no more than 6 ounces (one serving) of juice a day and children ages 7-18 years old drink no more than 12 ounces (two servings) of juice a day.

A note about sugary soft drinks (soda, sweetened tea, lemonade, and juice drinks): Children who drink more sweetened drinks consume more calories and are more likely to be overweight than kids who drink fewer soft drinks. Soft drinks also displace healthful foods in kids’ diets like milk, which can help prevent osteoporosis, and 100% juice, which can help prevent heart disease and cancer. In addition, soda pop can cause dental cavities and tooth decay.

For more information, contact [email protected]

What Healthy 200-Calorie Snacks Look Like

Healthy snacks can be a great tool for keeping you on track throughout the day. They power you through that mid-morning (or afternoon) slump so you don’t end up starving and overeating at your next meal, and they give you energy to stay focused while you’re at work or on the go.

The trick to creating a great snack is in the power balance, combining produce and protein to ensure you stay satisfied until your next meal. The fiber in the produce provides a few hours of staying power, and the protein sends a message to your brain that you’re full and satisfied. Adding a little healthy fat doesn’t hurt either.

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1 medium pear, diced
  • 1 tablespoon pistachios, shelled

Directions

Top the cottage cheese with diced pear and pistachios. Enjoy!

2 of

Ingredients

  • 1 slice whole-wheat toast
  • 1/4 avocado, mashed
  • 2 slices tomato
  • 1 tablespoon feta, crumbled
  • 2 basil leaves, torn

Directions

Spread the mashed avocado on the whole-wheat toast. Top with tomato slices, feta and basil.

3 of

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/2 cup diced strawberries

Directions

Combine the chia seeds, almond milk, cocoa powder and honey in a jar. Shake to combine, then refrigerate overnight to thicken. Top with strawberries and enjoy!

4 of

Ingredients

  • 1/2 6.5-inch whole-wheat pita bread
  • 1/2 cup sliced cucumbers
  • 2 tablespoons hummus
  • 6 kalamata olives

Directions

Spread hummus on pita bread, top with sliced cucumbers and olives.

5 of

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup berries
  • 2 tablespoons almonds, sliced

Directions

Spoon yogurt into a bowl. Top with berries and sliced almonds.

6 of

Ingredients

  • 1 hard-boiled egg
  • 1 medium apple
  • 1 ounce low-fat cheddar cheese

Directions

Add peeled hard-boiled egg, sliced medium apple, and cheese to a plate or to-go container and enjoy.

Aiming for a 200-calorie snack is easy when you take nutrient density into account. For example, an apple with a handful of almonds will be more satisfying in the long run than a bag of chips.

It might sound like a lot of variables to juggle when you’re reaching for a quick-and-easy bite, but creating healthy produce-and-protein combos is easier than you think. Here are six snack ideas that will keep you energized at just 200 calories:

READ MORE > WHAT A DELICIOUS & FILLING 400-CALORIE DINNER LOOKS LIKE

Tell us your favorite healthy snack combos in the comments below!

The 18 Worst ‘Healthy’ Snacks for Weight Loss

Americans are serial snackers. In fact, researchers say snacks account for an extra 580 extra calories per day in our diets.

We love snacks so much, in fact, that more than half the country uses them as a meal replacement, according to a recent Nielsen report—and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Healthy snacks—especially high-protein, afternoon munchies—can curb appetite, improve diet quality and speed up weight loss, recent studies suggest. But the wrong snacks can pack on the pounds faster than you can rip open a bag of Doritos. And there’s the rub.

Finding a good-for-you mini-meal isn’t easy because, in the American food jungle, chips are the most popular snack food (followed by chocolate, cheese and cookies). So, to simplify the selection process, here’s a list of the worst “healthy” snacks for weight loss, and the damage control tips you need to stay on track.

1

Plain Rice Cakes

Rice cakes are an old-school diet staple. But the simple carbohydrates rank notoriously high on the glycemic index (GI)—a measure of how quickly blood rises in response to food on a scale of one to 100 (rice cakes come in at 82). High GI foods provide a rush of energy, but can leave you hungry within a few hours. Researchers at the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center found high-GI snacks caused excessive hunger and increased activity in craving and reward area of the brain—the perfect storm for overeating and weight gain.

Eat This! Tip:

Adding healthy fats or protein to a meal lowers its glycemic load. Swap a two cake mini-meal for one rice cake topped with a generous swipe of nut butter. The combo will keep you fuller for longer and has the added benefit of being a complete protein with all nine essential amino acids.

2

Dark Chocolate Chips

Surely a few chocolate chips will satisfy your sweet tooth, right? Researchers aren’t so confident; people consume an average 41% more calories when snacking on unwrapped snacks, one study published in the journal Appetite showed. Researchers say peeling off a wrapper, or cracking the shell of a nut slows us down, which gives the body more time to send out “I’m full” signals. And the mounting pile of candy wrappers and nut shells serves as a visual reminder as to just how much we’ve eaten.

Eat This! Tip:

Remember that “just a bite” still has calories, and we usually don’t stop at just one bite. While high-quality dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa) is the most waist-friendly choco choice, you may want to stick with a small portion of wrapped varieties over “hand to mouth” chocolate chips.

3

Nuts

Sure, nuts are delicious and good for you. But when they’re coated in a layer of sugary syrup, they’re doing nut’n for your waistline. Planter’s Honey Roasted Peanuts contain 7 grams of added sugars per serving — which is 7 grams more sugar than you’d be eating if you chose an unflavored variety.

Eat This! Tip:

If you want some flavor on your nuts, opt for spices like cinnamon or cayenne. As for which type of nut, opt for in-shell varieties. Named “The Pistachio Effect,” research shows the act of shelling nuts can slow you down and give your body a chance to register fullness 86 calories sooner than you would otherwise.

4

Gluten-Free Pretzels

For some people, eating gluten-free is a necessity. But for those who think “gluten-free” means weight loss-friendly, beware the health halo. A pretzel offers very little in the nutrition department — gluten-free, organic, or otherwise — and it’s easy to fall for the claims. In a recent study, people estimated snacks labeled “organic” to be lower in calories, more nutritious and even tastier than when reviewing the same snacks without the “organic” label. Moreover, processed gluten-free snacks are typically higher in carbohydrates and fats than regular varieties. Gluten-free Glutino pretzels, for example, have an additional 30 calories, five grams of fat and none of the fiber and protein of an equivalent portion of regular Rold Gold variety.

Eat This! Tip:

Don’t get it twisted: Pretzels are little more than flour and salt. Satisfy your salty, crunchy craving with a big bowl of air-popped popcorn instead. Three cups of the naturally gluten-free snack clock in at only 90 calories and count as a serving of waist-whittling whole grains.

5

100-calorie Packs

Reaching for a portion-controlled packet of crackers or cookies may sound like a good snack strategy for weight loss, but the mini-packs may fill you out before they fill you up, research suggests. In fact, dieters perceived small snacks in small packages as diet-friendly and ended up eating multiple packets and more calories overall than when given a regular-size package, a recent study in the Journal of Consumer Research found.

Eat This! Tip:

When dieting, you’re better off serving yourself a small portion from a regular-sized bag than falling for the allure of a minipack, study authors suggest.

6

Fruit Smoothies

A fruit smoothie sounds like a virtuous choice for an afternoon pick-me-up, but be forewarned: Many store-bought options are blended with high-calorie dairy bases and cheap sweeteners that make them more dessert-like than diet-friendly. A small Baskin Robbins Mango Banana Smoothie packs 440 calories, nearly a third of what the average woman on a 1500-calorie weight loss diet needs in an entire day. Not to mention 96 grams of sugar — that’s more than you’ll find in 7 scoops of the chain’s Rainbow Sherbet. Adding insult to injury, banana doesn’t feature once on the ingredients list.

Eat This! Tip:

If you’re hankering for something sweet and fruity, nothing beats a whole piece (or two!) of the real thing. In fact, a recent study in the journal International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders found liquid carbohydrates to be 17 percent less filling compared with solid carbohydrates. As a general rule: eat, don’t drink, your fruits. And if it’s creamy that you’re craving, pair your fruit with a cup of low-fat plain cottage cheese or yogurt. A recent study found high-protein snacks eaten in the afternoon can improve appetite control and diet quality.

7

Granola

What happens when you take a bowl of oats, drown them in oil, cover them with sugar, bake them on a cookie tray? You get your average granola: highly delicious, highly caloric, highly likely to put you over your daily calorie budget in just one serving — and chances are you’ll munch through far more than a scant half-cup that makes up a single serving. In fact, a recent study found people served themselves the same volume of cereal regardless of caloric value. In other words, you’re likely to pour the same amount of granola into a bowl as you would corn flakes, and consume five times the calories in the process.

Eat This! Tip:

A big bowl of oatmeal topped with fresh fruit will fill you up for a fraction of the calories and fat as a small portion of energy-dense granola. In fact, a recent study found oatmeal to be the most satisfying breakfast in the cereal aisle—leading to greater and longer lasting feelings of fullness than ready-to-eat cereal.

8

Veggie Chips

The “healthy” alternative to chips are just another processed food. Their bag might display photos of whole veggies, but these chips are actually pulverized vegetable flour mixed with oil and salt. You can do better.

Eat This! Instead:

Keep a bag of edamame in the freezer and defrost individual portions for an ever-ready snack, snack on baby carrots, or get a fix of crunch and protein from two tablespoons of peanut butter on wheat crackers.

9

Bran Muffins

One of the great health food imposters, bran muffins are simply excuses to get you to eat cupcakes for breakfast. Each can deliver about 440 calories, with nearly a quarter of them coming from fat. Also avoid the scones: The rich, flaky taste comes from gobs of butter, flour and sugar, adding up to 500 calories a pop.

Eat This! Instead:

An egg and cheese sandwich usually comes in under 400 calories no matter where you go, as long as it’s not on a bagel. Plus, the protein hit helps temper your appetite as the day wears on.

10

Trail Mix

Filled with satiating nuts and bits of fiber-filled fruit, trail mix has to be far healthier than chips and pretzels, right? Not so much. Most trail mixes are loaded with salt, and the dried fruit pieces are essentially sugar dusted with sugar. In fact, Target’s bag of Market Pantry Trail Mix has 15 grams of the sweet stuff!

Eat This! Instead:

Go for a handful of walnuts or almonds, or use our exclusive guide on how to make the perfect trail mix!

11

PROTEIN BARS

Would you refuel with a Snickers after a workout? That’s exactly what you’re doing when you reach for many protein bars — with their laundry list of ingredients, sugars and preservatives, and up to 350 calories per, you’d be better off eating candy.

Eat This! Instead:

Make yourself one of these best protein shake recipes for weight loss!

12

Flavored Yogurt

Packed with satiating, muscle-building protein and belly-beneficial probiotics, yogurt is an excellent weight loss food. But don’t be fooled by its telenovela-style evil twin: Flavored yogurt, a scourge of sugary fruit. For example, Noosa has 32 grams of sugar in their 8-ounce tub — more than eight Dunkin’ Donuts Sugared Donuts!

Eat This! Instead:

Opt for plain, 2% or full-fat yogurt and add some fresh berries. (Fat-free or low-fat versions are skimmed of nutrients.) Pick one of these best yogurts for weight loss!

13

Craisins

In moderation, dried fruit can be a healthy, fiber-filled snack or salad topping, but in many cases, it might as well be candy. Not only is the sugar more concentrated in dried fruits than fresh, manufacturers often coat dried fruit in more sugar.

Eat This! Instead:

Fresh fruit really isn’t that inconvenient to carry around. The only good thing about Craisins is the color. Look for this crimson characteristic to ensure you’re buying the Best Fruits for Fat Loss.

14

Wraps

These wafer-thin waist-wideners deserve a bad rap. While most slices of bread top out around 100 calories, many wraps have two or three times that amount. Plus: In order for the tortilla to stay flexible, manufacturers add fat, often in the form of soybean oil and hydrogenated oils.

Eat This! Instead:

Make yourself a sandwich with one of these best breads for weight loss. Just stay away from the processed deli meats—they’re full of harmful salt and cancer-causing preservatives.

15

Reduced-Fat Peanut Butter

There are a few nevers in life: Never wear two kinds of plaid at the same time, never say “I love you” on the first date, and never eat reduced-fat peanut butter. When peanut-butter makers removed the naturally occurring, healthy fats from peanuts, they replaced them with sugar, corn, syrup and hydrogenated vegetable oil, which researchers to found increase heart disease risk by a whopping 23 percent. And if that weren’t enough, it usually has the same number of calories as regular peanut butter.

Eat This! Instead:

Stick with regular, heart-healthy peanut butter and almond butter. Our favorite peanut butter is Smucker’s Natural variety, made with just peanuts and a touch of salt.

16

Chocolate Hazelnut Spreads

How did peanut butter get such a bad reputation? The low-fat craze of the ’90s is to blame, and it caused so much delusion that somehow this hazelnut spread was considered a superior option. In reality, it contains sugar as the first ingredient, plus vegetable oil, an emulsifier, and “reduced fat cocoa powder.”

Eat This! Instead:

Pick one of these best nut butters for weight loss instead!

17

Sweet Potato Chips

We’re sorry to break this to you, but veggie chips are just as bad, if not worse, than potato chips. (And in a recent study, potato chips were ranked the worst food for weight gain out of all the foods that exist on the planet!) One serving of Terra Sweet Potato Chips has more calories, fat and saturated fat as a serving of Cape Cod Potato Chips. Though we like other products from their line, don’t assume it’s healthier just because the shade of potato is different.

Eat This! Instead:

Try one of our best chip alternatives for weight loss!

18

Sugar-Free Snacks

Not only have artificial sweeteners actually been linked to weight gain — they trick the body into desiring additional carbs — foods labeled as sugar-free can actually contain sugar! Technically, they can include up to 0.5 grams of sugar per serving.

Eat This! Instead:

If you’re craving something sweet, skip “sugar-free” options and eat what you’re really craving in moderation.

Get the New Book!

Want to lose 10, 20, even 30 pounds—all without dieting?! Get your copy of Eat This, Not That: The Best (& Worst) Foods in America!, and learn how to indulge smarter and lose weight fast!

Trader Joe’s Caught In Sticky Lawsuit Over Peanut Butter Pretzels

The Trader Joe’s Peanut Butter Filled Pretzel: The salty-sweet snack that launched a bitter lawsuit. Courtesy of Tina Haupert hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of Tina Haupert

Among the many snacks you can find in the aisles of Trader Joe’s is an icon of sweet and salty goodness: the peanut butter pretzel. It’s a combination so tasty, famed food writer Ruth Reichl once raved, “You haven’t lived until you’ve tried the two together.”

But the beloved treats aren’t just treasures for the palate — they’re a pretty lucrative business worth millions of dollars. And now, Trader Joe’s is being sued for allegedly cornering the market on the snack.

The plaintiff is Maxim Marketing, a Southern California company that claims to have invented the peanut butter pretzel in the early 1980s. And for more than 25 years, Maxim claims, it supplied the grocery chain with the snack, which is sold under the private Trader Joe’s label. But Maxim says the retailer switched suppliers to packaged food giant ConAgra Foods, unfairly cutting it out of the business it pioneered. So Maxim is suing both companies, explains journalist Alfred Lee, who wrote about the lawsuit for the Los Angeles Business Journal.

“They’re suing for alleged breach of contract and also alleging the existence of a peanut butter pretzel monopoly,” Lee tells Morning Edition host David Greene. “I realize that sounds kind of funny, but this isn’t some bite-sized niche, if you will. It’s a market worth tens of millions of dollars.”

Maxim claims it sold Trader Joe’s $9 million worth of peanut butter pretzels each year, and the grocer, in turn, sold the snacks at a gross markup of roughly 35 percent.

“Maxim is a middle man that doesn’t own its own factories,” Lee explains. The company used to work with various independent manufacturers to create the pretzel snacks. But over the years, “ConAgra has bought up most of the peanut butter pretzel manufacturing capability in the United States.”

That means ConAgra is now pretty much the only game in town when it comes to making the snacks. Indeed, Maxim says it used ConAgra to manufacture the pretzels until Trader Joe’s made a deal directly with ConAgra that cut Maxim out.

“Maxim is saying that this deal prevents them from essentially doing business,” Lee says.

Trader Joe’s, which is privately held, is famously tight-lipped. It does not disclose its suppliers, and it has not commented publicly on the lawsuit nor responded to it in court.

Of course, Trader Joe’s has the right to use any supplier it wants. And one way the company has traditionally cut costs is by bypassing the middle man and going straight to the manufacturer when it comes to creating its own private-label foods. So, really, it’s up to the court to decide whether any contract was indeed breached, and whether the deal between Trader Joe’s and ConAgra really does crumble competition in the pretzel marketplace.

One of the lawsuit’s most surprising revelations? Turns out, the peanut butter pretzel is a marvel of food manufacturing. The technology to make a hard pretzel shell stuffed with peanut butter didn’t even exist until the 1980s, Lee says. It’s a process called co-extrusion — basically, an outer tube pumps out pretzel dough, while an inner tube pumps out peanut butter filling onto a conveyor belt. The whole thing is then sliced up and baked in a giant 100-foot oven.

“It turns out that getting the mix right and the proportions right was pretty tricky,” Lee says. “If there is too much water in the pretzel or the shell is too thin, the things will explode. And imagine having to clean a 100-foot oven full of peanut butter.”

UPDATE Feb. 24: After this story was published, we received the following comment from ConAgra Foods:

“This lawsuit is baseless and built on false accusations, and despite the legal and PR maneuvers of the litigants, we are pleased to be able to provide consumers with great food at an affordable price.”

We also heard from Bruce Gutterman, a pioneer in pourable peanut butter. (He helped put the peanut butter in Ben & Jerry’s Chubby Hubby, among other products.) Gutterman has claimed that he invented the peanut butter pretzel concept first and brought the idea to Maxim to distribute the product. He says Maxim then took the idea and cut him out of the business. “I am the only person who has earned the right to tell this beloved and enjoyed snacks origin” story, Gutterman writes The Salt. Maxim has denied that Gutterman came up with the idea for the peanut butter-filled pretzel, claiming he was just a broker.

48 Best Snacks With 50 Calories Or Less

Trying to lose weight without fueling your body throughout the day is like trying to power through an all-nighter without enough caffeine—you’re bound to crash.

According to experts, snacking in between meals wards off hunger and aids weight loss by maintaining blood-sugar levels and reducing blood insulin levels. “When your body produces less insulin, you’re much less likely to convert dietary calories into body fat,” says weight loss expert Dr. Wayne Scott Andersen. “If we feed the body at regular intervals we send a signal to the body that it doesn’t have to store calories,” he adds.

At a loss for what to eat? Look for something that’s around 130 to 250 calories. Or just mix and match a few of these low-calorie calorie snacks for weight loss. We’ve studied the nutritionals for you, so you can enjoy each and every one guilt-free.

1

Pure Organic Fruit & Veggie Strip Strawberry Apple

Nutrition per 1 strip, 50 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 20 g sodium, 12 mg carbs, 1 g fiber, 7 g sugar, 0 g protein

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Think of these as healthy Fruit Roll-Ups for grown-ups. The best part? This sweet fruit leather is made from actual apples, pumpkins, and strawberries, and it doesn’t contain any artificial sweeteners or preservatives, some of the worst additives for your health.

2

Skinny Pop Original Popcorn

Nutrition per 1 cup, 40 calories, 2.7 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 20 mg sodium, 4 g carbs, 0.8 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 0.5 g protein

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Before you sit down to watch Empire, grab a small bowl of this skinny snack. We love SkinnyPop because it’s free of additives and exceptionally tasty—without being too salty. Though we’re partial to the Original flavor, the popcorn also comes in equally low-cal flavors like white cheddar and kettle corn if you’re in the mood to mix it up. Just a few changes to your diet like this can mean big weight loss.

3

The Laughing Cow Sun-Dried Tomato & Basil Light Mozzarella

Nutrition 1 wedge, 35 calories, 1.5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 190 mg sodium, 1 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 2 g protein

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Keep one of these cheese wheels in the office fridge to fight on-the-job hunger. Spread a couple wedges over whole wheat crackers, and you hit both major benchmarks of satiety: protein and fiber—without breaking the calorie bank.

4

Siggi’s Blueberry Low-Fat Yogurt Tubes

Nutrition 1 tube, 50 calories, 1 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 30 mg sodium, 6 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 5 g sugar, 5 g protein

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Finally, an eat-on-the-go yogurt tube we can get behind! Made with just five simple ingredients (including hormone-free, low-fat milk) and only five grams of sugar, there’s no reason not to throw one of these into your snack pack. During the warmer months, put a few yogurts into your freezer—they make for a healthy popsicle alternative, too.

5

Jelly Belly Jelly Beans

Nutrition 1 mini pack, 35 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg sodium, 9 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 7 g sugar, 0 g protein

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If you’re craving something sweet and sinful, grab this mini pack of jelly beans. With just 4 calories in each bean, they’re the slimmest way to enjoy cotton candy, toasted marshmallows, and strawberry shortcake. As an added bonus: Jelly Belly uses real fruit purees to flavor their beans. It’s still candy in every sense, but it’s certainly the lesser of many sugar-loaded evils.

6

Mini Babybel Light

1 cheese, 50 calories, 3 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 160 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 0 g sugar

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Proof that good things come in small packages: these little cheese rounds. They may be tiny, but they’re great for staving off hunger. “Babybel cheeses offer some protein that can help slow digestion and promote feelings of fullness and satiety,” says Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN, registered dietitian and founder of Isabel Smith Nutrition. And if you can’t get enough of the creamy stuff, pick up a few of these best cheeses for weight loss.

7

Stretch Island Fruit Company Fruit Strip Abundant Apricot

1 fruit strip, 45 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg sodium, 11 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 8 g sugar, 0 g protein

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This snack is perfect for kids of all ages—yes, your inner child counts! While Fruit Roll-Ups are loaded with corn syrup, chemicals, and artificial dyes, Stretch Island’s take on the snack contains no added sugars and is made solely from a blend of wholesome fruit purees. There’s no question, this snack is the clear winner in our eyes.

8

Brothers-ALL-Natural Fuji Apple Crisps

1 package, 40 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg sodium, 10 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 8 g sugar, 0 g protein

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Don’t be fooled by the crunchy chip-like texture, these freeze-dried apples are perfect for anyone on the go and looking to slim down. Though the sugar count may look a big high, it’s all coming from the fruit. This is a no-sugar-added snack we love.

9

Bolthouse Farms Veggie Snackers, Carrot Meets Ranch

Nutrition per package (2.25 oz): 30 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 210 mg sodium, 7 g carbs (2 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 1 g protein

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Carrots are one of the most satiating veggies out there, according to Australian researchers—likely because of their high water content. These snack packs come with a handful of carrots and a package of seasonings, which punches up the flavor like dips and dressings without the excess calories or fat.

10

Watermelon

Nutrition per 1 cup diced, 46 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 11 g carbs, 0.6 g fiber, 9 g sugar, 1 g protein

Fat cells fear fruit—especially watermelon. At less than 50 calories per cup and 90 percent water by weight, the summer staple is almost impossible to eat too much of. What’s more, noshing on the juicy fruit has been shown to increase blood levels of L-arginine, an amino acid that’s kryptonite for belly fat. One group of women who supplemented with L-arginine dropped an average of 6.5 pounds and two inches from their waists in just 12 weeks, according to a recent study. Add the fruit to your weekly lineup to reap the benefits, or pair it with one of these other best fruits for fat loss for a more filling snack.

11

Cucumber Slices

Nutrition per 1 cup, slices, 16 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 2 mg sodium, 4 g carbs, 0.6 g fiber, 2 g sugar

Cucumbers are about 95 percent water, so not only will they hydrate you, but they’ll also boost your weight-loss efforts thanks to their low-calorie count. For added health benefits, step away from the peeler! Cucumber skin is a potent source of vitamin K, a nutrient that helps regulates blood clotting and contributes to healthy bones.

12

Apple

Nutrition per one piece, extra small, 50 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 1 mg sodium, 14 g carbs, 2.6 g fiber, 0.3 g protein

Ultra-portable and packed with filling water and satiating soluble fiber, apples are one of Mother Nature’s very best weight loss foods.

13

Carrots

1 cup, chopped, 53 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 88 mg sodium, 12 g carbs, 3.6 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 1.2 g protein

Though they carry more natural sugar than most other veggies, carrots are loaded with fiber which helps prevent your blood sugar levels from spiking. When you’re shopping for the veggie, look for some that have a deep-orange hue and are free of cracks. They’ll taste better, which will eliminate the need for a high-cal dip.

14

Pacific Foods Free Range Chicken Broth

Nutrition per 8 fl oz personal container, 25 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 420 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0 g fiber

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Clear broth is a successful dieter’s secret weapon. Why? It fills the belly for almost zero calories. We’re fans of Pacific’s grab-and-go containers and all-natural nutritional profile. You won’t find any weird chemicals in this soup—trust us! It’s only made with ingredients you’d find in your own kitchen.

15

Orange

Nutrition per 1 small fruit, 46 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 11 g carbs, 2.4 g fiber, 9 g sugar, 1 g protein

Most orange vegetables and fruits, like oranges, are spiked with carotenoids—fat-soluble compounds that are associated with a reduction of a wide range of cancers, as well as reduced risk and severity of inflammatory conditions such as asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. Oranges are also packed with Vitamin C, a nutrient that lowers levels of cortisol, a hormone linked to belly fat storage.

16

Arctic Zero Vanilla Maple

Nutrition per 1/2 cup, 35 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 100 mg sodium, 7 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 5 g sugar, 3 g protein

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No, that isn’t a typo. This skinny alternative really has just 35 calories per serving! It isn’t too shocking when you consider that makers of the treat replaced the cream and milk typically found in ice cream with water and whey protein. While staffers who tried this stuff out thought the taste was on point, they did note that the texture was more icy than creamy. For more low-cal ice cream alternatives, check out these best ice creams for weight loss.

17

Tuna Fish Canned in Water

Nutrition per 1.3 oz., 40 calories, 0.25 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 125 mg sodium, 0.4 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 9 g protein

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This portable, affordable protein is a must-eat for anyone looking to lose a few. Why? Canned tuna is a prime source of a specific omega-3 fatty acid, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which has been shown to “turn off” fat genes in the abdomen, preventing belly fat cells from growing larger. To keep calories to a minimum, skip the mayo and instead add a few cranks of ground pepper, a splash of balsamic vinegar and serve the fish over a bed of greens—super filling, yet low-cal.

18

Applegate Organics Smoked Turkey Breast

Nutrition per 2 slices, 50 calories, 0.5 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 410 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 11 g protein

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If you’re on a low-carb diet, noshing on a couple slices of turkey meat is an easy way to quell your hunger pangs. Just be sure to stick to our recommended serving size to keep sodium levels down.

19

Unsweetened Applesauce with Ground Cinnamon

Nutrition per 1 cup, 50 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg sodium, 15 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 14 g sugar, 1 g protein

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Keep a few containers of this low-calorie snack in your desk drawer. Its just-sweet-enough flavor and filling properties are sure to help you keep your hands out of the office cookie jar. Bonus: The addition of cinnamon can help control blood sugar and prevent diabetes.

20

Hard-Boiled Egg

Nutrition per 1 small, 50 calories, 3.6 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 1 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 5 g protein

This breakfast favorite contains a nutrient called choline that boosts metabolism and may help turn off the genes responsible for belly fat storage. It’s also filled with protein which aids muscle growth and boosts its satiety value.

21

Cherries

Nutrition per 1 cup, 50 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 3 mg sodium, 13 g carbs, 1.6 g fiber, 9 g sugar, 1 g protein

Tart and sweet, cherries are like candy from the earth. They’re about 81 percent water per volume, which keeps them low-calorie. Cherries are also packed with flavonoids, powerful antioxidants that help fight potentially cancer-causing free radicals.

22

Grapes

Nutrition per 1/2 cup, 50 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 1 mg sodium, 8 g carbs, 0.4 g fiber, 7.5 sugar, 0.5 g protein

Pro tip: Put them in the freezer for a nice cold treat!

23

Kosher Dill Pickle

Nutrition per 3 large, 42 calories, 0.9 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 9.3 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 4.2 g sugar, 1.2 g protein

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If you’re craving something savory but don’t want to totally blow your diet, reach for a pickle.
Pickle jars are filled with vinegar, which can quench your cravings and whittle your waistline. Studies show acidic foods help increase the rate at which the body burns off carbs by up to 40 percent! And the faster you burn off carbs, the sooner your body starts incinerating fat.

24

Just Pure Foods Sour Cream & Onion Zucchini Chips

Nutrition per 1/4 package, 48 calories, 3.75 g fat, 0.5 g saturated, 3.5 g carbs, 98 mg sodium, 0.75 g fiber, 1 g protein

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Three words: So. Freakin’. Good. While eating something made solely of dehydrated squash and a bunch of spices may not seem like it would be tasty, Just Pure Foods dazzles us with this healthy chip alternative creation. It’s crispy and full of an oniony, garlicky flavor that’s hard to stop eating. Best of all, you don’t have to. Even if you were to polish off half the bag in one sitting, it won’t do much damage to your waistline.

25

Milas Olives Natural Green Pitted Olives Lemon & Rosemary

Nutrition per 1.1 oz package, 50 calories, 6 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 240 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 0 g protein

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Like olive oil, olives are filled with healthy monounsaturated fats that boost heart health and ward off hunger. With just 50 calories for an entire to-go pack, you can’t go wrong with Milas Oloves’ savory, citrus- and herb-infused snack. Though they’re sold at a number of health food stores, most Starbucks locations recently started carrying them (along with some other new healthy snacks), so they’re easy to find in a pinch.

26

Cauliflower

Nutrition per 1 cup, chopped, 27 calories, 0.3 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 32 mg sodium, 5 g carbs, 2.1 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 2 g protein

High in fiber and extremely low-calorie, this cruciferous veggie can help you feel fuller longer, leading you to consume few calories and, in turn, lose weight.

27

Grapefruit

Nutrition per ½ fruit, 50 calories, 0.2 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg sodium, 13 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 8 g sugar, 0.9 g protein

A grapefruit a day in addition to your regular meals can speed weight loss. The fruit’s acidity slows digestion, meaning it takes longer to move through your system, and you’ll end up feeling fuller, and more satisfied, for longer. And the vitamin C-packed grapefruit works to lower cholesterol and decrease the risk of stroke, heart disease, and some types of cancer.

28

Strawberries

Nutrition per 1 cup halves, 49 calories, 0.5 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 2 mg sodium, 12 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 7 g sugar, 1 g protein

Noshing on strawberries is a flavorful and healthy way to sate a sweet tooth. But that’s not the only reason we’re fans of this vibrant berry. The fruit is also packed with polyphenols, which can help you burn fat and even stop it from forming.

29

Bakeology Vanilla Chai Crunchy Cookie Bites

Nutrition per 1 cookie, 26 calories, 1.6 g fat, 1.2 g saturated fat, 8 g sodium, 3.75 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 0.25 g protein

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Six grams of sugar in three of these chai-infused vanilla cookies?! It doesn’t get much better than that. In lieu of butter, Bakeology uses coconut oil to bind the organic ingredients that make up their dessert, which is good news for your belly. The tropical oil converts into energy more easily than other types of fat, so less flab is apt to be stored on your frame. We’re also big fans of the real bits of cinnamon, ginger, ground cloves and cardamom that give these cookies an authentic chai flavor.

30

Celery Stalks with Hummus

Nutrition per 1 cup celery with 1 Tbsp hummus, 41 calories, 1.4 g fat, 0.2 g saturated fat, 138 mg sodium, 5 g carbs, 2.5 g fiber, 1.8 g sugar, 2 g protein

This crunchy, creamy duo is a perfect low-calorie snack to tide you over between meals. Though celery isn’t particularly packed with vitamins, it does serve up a host of flat-belly fiber for very few calories, making it a perfect vessel for a more calorie-dense dip like hummus.

31

Sugar Snap Peas

Nutrition per 3 oz, 35 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 25 mg sodium, 8 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 5 g sugar, 1 g protein

This pop-in-your-mouth veggie is loaded with fiber and water, which can help aid satiety and weight loss efforts.

32

Kix

Nutrition per ½ cup, 44 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 72 mg sodium, 10 g carbs, 1.2 g fiber, 1.2 g sugar, 0.8 g protein

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Kid-tested, nutritionist-approved, this childhood fave is one low-sugar kids’ cereal we can actually get behind. Ditch the milk and crunch on the stuff as a low-cal snack.

33

Cantaloupe Cubes

Nutrition per 1 cup, 50 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 26 mg sodium, 1.4 g fiber, 13 g sugar, 1.3 g protein

Sure it’s low-cal and low-carb, but a cup of this sweet orange melon also provides more than a hundred percent of the day’s vitamin A. This fat-soluble nutrient helps maintain eye and skin health in addition to boosting immune function. Although cantaloupe tastes great on its own, it also pairs well with cottage cheese, another item that made this list!

34

Go Raw 100% Organic Ginger Snaps Super Cookies

Nutrition per 5 cookies, 44 calories, 2.5 g fat, 1.4 g saturated fat, 2.8 mg sodium, 5 g carbs, 1.1 fiber, 3 g sugar, 0.5 g protein

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Made from just four whole-food ingredients: coconut, sprouted sesame seeds, naturally sweet dates and ginger powder, you can eat a few handfuls of these without breaking the sugar or calorie bank. Admittedly, they don’t taste exactly like a traditional ginger snap, but they’re not too far off. And they’re far better for your waistline, which makes them so worth it.

35

Peach

Nutrition per 1 small, 50 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg sodium, 12 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 11 g sugar, 1.2 g protein

Studies show that peaches may help ward off metabolic syndrome — a name for a group of risk factors, of which belly fat is a predominant determinant, that increase the risk for obesity-related diseases including diabetes. The belly-good properties of stone fruits come from powerful phenolic compounds that can modulate fat gene expression. Better yet, fruits with pits are among the lowest in fructose or fruit sugar.

36

Post Honeycomb

Nutrition per ½ cup, 43 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 60 mg sodium, 9.3 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 3.3 g sugar, 0 g protein

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Though it’s lacking in the fiber department, Honeycomb is an easy non-perishable snack to eat on the go. Throw some dry cereal in a baggie and keep it on hand so you’re always prepared with a low-sugar treat whenever hunger strikes.

37

Bacon

Nutrition per 1 slice, 43 calories, 3.3 g fat, 1.1 g saturated fat, 137 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 3 g protein

Sizzle up a slice of this breakfast favorite for a savory protein boost—so long as you think you can cut yourself off after a slice or two. Recent research has found that processed meats, such as hot dogs and bacon, are carcinogenic to humans, however eating the stuff in moderation isn’t a major risk, say diet experts. The more you eat, the higher your risk of disease.

38

Kellogg’s Eggo Minis Buttermilk Pancakes

Nutrition per 2 pancakes, 50 calories, 1.6 g fat, 0.3 g saturated fat, 103 mg sodium, 8 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 1 g protein

Don’t get us wrong, this isn’t a healthy snack by any means, but if you’re craving something a bit more indulgent these cute mini pancakes aren’t a bad bet for your waistline. Pair them with some cinnamon and raspberries for a low-cal, filling treat.

39

Low-Fat Cottage Cheese

Nutrition per 1/4 cup, 41 calories, 0.58 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 1.54 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 1.54 g sugar, 7 g protein

Cottage cheese is a good addition to your diet because it’s high in protein and relatively low in calories. It’s also considered a complete protein, which means it contains all nine essential amino acids your body needs to function properly and build lean muscle mass.

40

Pear

Nutrition per 1/2 cup slices, 40 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0.5 mg sodium, 10.5 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 7 g sugar, 0 g protein

Most people know that green tea is a potent source of catechins (an antioxidant that hinders the storage of belly fat) but what most people don’t realize is that pears are filled with the stuff, too. Nosh on some slices to reap the flat-belly benefits.

41

Sunflower Seeds

Nutrition per 1 tablespoon, 50 calories, 4.8 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat 1.75 g carbs, 1 g fiber 1.4 g protein

Packed with powerful linoleic acids, sunflower seeds have a secret weapon against unwanted pounds. Studies have shown that consuming the nutrients can help lower body weight, BMI, total fat mass and waist-to-hip ratio. Just be mindful of your portions: A mere tablespoon will run you 50 calories.

42

Woodstock Mini Me’s Organic Rice Bites Dark Chocolate

Nutrition per 3 mini cakes, 50 calories, 2.5 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 42 mg sodium, 6 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 2.5 g sugar, 0 g protein

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Traditional rice cakes are bland and boring, but these salty-sweet chocolate dunked treats are anything but. Grab three for a mere 50 calories.

43

Pistachios

Nutrition per 12 nuts, 47 calories, 3 g fat, 0.4 g saturated fat, 2.2 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 0.64 g sugar, 1.7 g protein

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It’s easy to see why pistachios ranked as one of the best nuts for weight loss, they’ve helped countless Biggest Loser contestants trim down. “We keep pistachios in ample supply at the ranch, says Biggest Loser dietitian Cheryl Forberg, RD. “Not only are they a satisfying, heart-healthy snack, they also aid weight loss. Studies suggest having to manually remove the shell helps people eat more mindfully and slows the rate at which they nosh, helping to reduce portion size and calorie intake, she explains”

44

Pacific Foods Light-Sodium Creamy Tomato Soup

Nutrition per 1/2 cup, 50 calories, 1 g fat, 0.75 g saturated fat, 190 mg sodium, 8 g carbs, 0.5 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 2.5 g protein

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All the comfort of winter’s favorite for just 50 calories!? It doesn’t get much better than that! And balance salt and protein perfectly with these soups that burn fat!

45

Annie’s Cinnamon Bunny Grahams

Nutrition per 11 cookies, 49 calories, 1.6 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 40 mg sodium, 7.9 g carbs, 0.5 g fiber, 2.8 g sugar, 0.7 g protein

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This whole-grain snack offers just the right amount of sweetness and is perfect for little ones and grown-ups alike.

46

Fresh Raspberries

Nutrition per ¾ cup, 49 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg sodium, 11.25 g carbs, 6 g fiber, 3.75 g sugar, 1.1 g protein

Think of each raspberry as a magical weight loss pill. Packing more fiber and liquid than most other fruits, they boost feelings of satiety without doing any damage to your waistline.

47

Suzie’s Whole Grain Thin Cakes Corn, Quinoa & Sesame

Nutrition per 3 cakes, 38 calories, 0 g fat, 11 mg sodium, 8 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 1.5 g protein

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These are made with just four whole food ingredients — corn, quinoa, sesame seeds and sea salt — and make eating healthy on the run a figurative piece of cake. Pair these with a tablespoon of almond butter (100 calories) for a snack that falls well below the 150-calorie mark.

48

Hershey’s Milk Chocolate with Almonds

Nutrition per 2 pieces, 47 calories, 3 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 5.5 mg sodium, 0.4 g fiber, 4 g sugar, 0.88 g protein

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If you’re going to indulge in something sweet, it’s always a plus if you can consume some whole foods along with it. By pairing fat-burning almonds with their signature chocolate, Hershey’s hits the mark spot on.

Want to lose 10, 20, even 30 pounds—all without dieting?! Get your copy of Eat This, Not That: The Best (& Worst) Foods in America!, and learn how to indulge smarter and lose weight fast!

Are you going to eat that?

Pick a fruit, any fruit, and you know it’s good for you. It’s the same with vegetables and many whole grain foods. They deserve their nutritional halos.

Some foods, however, have gotten the healthy nod, when they’re actually laden with fat, sugar or both.

Some of you may be scratching your heads, wondering, “you mean, frozen yogurt isn’t good for me?”

Well, no. That’s why you should always read the label. To save you some time, here are seven items that you may think are good snacks, but might be better left on the store shelf.

GRANOLA BARS
Granola bars got their wholesome, outdoorsy reputation as the mountain climber’s snack of choice. They’re filled with whole oats, nuts, seeds and bits of dried fruit — how could that be a bad thing?

The downside: Many granola bars are dipped in sugary syrups or loaded with chocolate chips, highly processed or artificial ingredients and aren’t much better than high-calorie candy bars. Even the less sugared-up varieties have only a little protein, a smidgen of fiber and a small amount of vitamins and minerals.

If you can’t resist: Make your own trail mix with whole-grain, ready-to-eat cereals, such as shredded wheat, with whole nuts, seeds and chunks of unsweetened, dried fruit. Otherwise, stick to bars with a short ingredient list, essentially whole grains, nuts, seeds and real fruit. Pick ones with 4 or more grams of fiber, less than 150 calories per serving and no more than 6 grams of added sugars.

TEA DRINKS
Tea has been lauded for its antioxidant power. The phytonutrients in tea leaves may not predict your future, but they may help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Tea leaves can calm inflammation in the body and may slow the growth of cancer cells.

David Paul Morris / Getty Images Tea leaves can help fight cancer and heart disease, but not all tea drinks are the same.

The downside:

Tea drinks are not the same as brewed tea leaves. Many bottled varieties contain little brewed tea, but plenty of added sugars — enough to rival soda. A recent Consumer Reports review found that all bottled tea beverages had fewer antioxidants than brewed teas. Some of them were made from “concentrates” or “essences,” and likely lack the touted benefits.

If you can’t resist: Brew your own beverage. Chill and flavor it with lemon and a small amount of sugar. If you pick a bottled tea, choose one that lists brewed tea as the first ingredient and no more than 4 grams of added sugars per serving. Studies have health benefits in those who drink 4 cups of brewed tea daily.

PRETZELS
They’re the go-to snack food for school kids. One serving of pretzels contains 1 gram of fat, compared to potato chips’ 10 grams.

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Getty Images stock Pretzels are lower in fat than chips, but are mostly nutritionally empty.

The downside:

Pretzels are mostly nutritionally empty. Sure, they’re lower in calories and fat compared to chips, but they really are not a healthful snack. One serving provides nearly a quarter of the sodium a person needs each day. Because pretzels are basically bland, seasoned varieties pump up the flavor, but also the calories, sodium and fat content.

If you can’t resist: Pick a whole wheat brand. Or, how about a handful of nuts, instead? They offer a variety of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, plus they pack some protein and fiber. Seeds, such as sunflower or pumpkin, are an option. Or try subbing-in any type of veggie sticks and a dollop of zesty dip.

MUFFINS
The name evokes a warm kitchen and homemade goodness. The bran or berry varieties give them the image of a nutritious breakfast.

The downside: The sheer size of today’s muffins. Years ago, one muffin was 150 to 170 calories, 5 grams of fat and about the size of a racquetball. Today, a muffin averages 500 calories, 20-plus grams of fat, and are closer to the size of a small planet.

If you can’t resist: Try a different kind of muffin — a whole-grain English muffin. Spread a light layer of peanut butter on a toasted half, and then top with fruit. That’ll set you back only about 150 calories, plus you’ll have some healthy nutrients to show for it. If you must have the baked variety, pick a small muffin or split one of the overgrown ones with a couple of friends. Opt for one that contains real fruit and is made from whole grain flour, corn meal or bran.

RICE CAKES
Low-fat, low-cholesterol, virtually tasteless – they must be good for you, right? After all, one lightly salted, large-sized cake contains a mere 40 to 50 calories, no fat and no cholesterol.

The downside: Light and airy describes their taste — and their nutritional content. You won’t find much on the nutrition facts label beyond calories and sodium. Even those that boast whole grains typically remove the germ, one of the more nutritious parts of a whole grain kernel. Flavored cakes only add fat, which can be the bad “trans” kind.

If you can’t resist: Choose a plain version, but add hummus spread and sliced veggies on top. A little peanut butter adds healthy protein.

FRUIT-FLAVORED SNACKS (gummies)
The packaging leads you to believe colorful fruits lie within. The extra vitamin C (some offering 100 percent of recommended daily amount) is a healthy bonus.

The downside: The first ingredient listed is a fruit, but it’s often a concentrate made from boiled-down juices fairly rich in sugar and lacking the phytonutrients and vitamins found in whole fruits. Added sugars overwhelm any of the fruit benefits. Plus, you’ll find plenty of additives, artificial ingredients and even hydrogenated oils, or trans fats, rounding out the list of ingredients.

If you can’t resist: There is no substitute for whole fruit. But that won’t always fly with the pint-sized crowd, so try dried fruit bites instead. There are several varieties such as apples, peaches and pears, perfect for smaller fingers. Fruit leathers are a good substitute because they’re usually made from whole fruit purees with no added sugars or complicated ingredients.

FROZEN YOGURTS
Yogurt is nutrient-rich. Live and active cultures are beneficial for the intestines and immune system.

The downside: Not all frozen yogurts are created equal. Some contain live, active cultures, others do not. Unless labeled fat-free, many frozen yogurts contain nearly the same amount of fat as a reduced-fat ice cream, as well as the same number of calories.

If you can’t resist: Find lower-fat frozen yogurts that have live, active cultures. Some brands carry the “Live & Active” seal from the National Yogurt Association which ensures the product contained a certain amount of beneficial bacteria when it was produced.

Susan Moores, R.D., is a nutrition consultant and spokesperson for The American Dietetic Association.

© 2013 msnbc.com. Reprints

Snack Foods That Fill You Up Without Making You Gain Weight

We all experience cravings, but chowing down on chips or candy isn’t ideal. So, choose a healthier snack that won’t pack on pounds. If you crave something more satisfying than a boring apple or granola bar, here are some quick, tasty snacks you can enjoy without gaining weight. You’ll love the superfood alternative to one popular crunchy snack (on page 10).

1. Chocolate pudding cup

Chocolate doesn’t have to be the enemy | loooby/iStock/Getty Images

We know what you’re thinking, but hear us out! Chocolate doesn’t have to the enemy and, like most indulgent foods having it in moderation means you don’t have to ban it from your life forever. Single-serve pudding cups make a great option, as Women’s Health Magazine points out, because there’s still some protein from the milk and the single-serve container means you can’t overindulge — just don’t open a second one! The treat also doesn’t have to be loaded with sugar, depending on what brand you buy. Top your pudding cup with some fresh berries or a few nuts for a satisfying snack that only feels sinful!

Next: A classic party dip you don’t have to shun

2. Whole-grain toast with guacamole

Guacamole on toast | marrakeshh/iStock/Getty Images

There are few people who don’t love the green goodness that is guacamole. Believe it or not, this beloved party dip has a few health benefits. Avocado is a good source of healthy fat so spreading a few tablespoons of guac on a piece of whole-grain toast is a surprisingly delicious and satisying snack if you’re in the mood for something savory. Think of it as avocado toast kicked up a notch.

Next: An unusual flavor pairing that’s the perfect bite

3. Mango with chili powder

A tangy snack is incredibly satisfying. | Bdspn/iStock/Getty Images Plus

A strange idea, but the mango’s sweetness and chili’s spiciness make the perfect delectable combination. Nutritionist Amy Gorin tells Redbook spicy foods can boost your metabolism for a short amount of time, so why not spice up your fruit?

Next: The quintessential protein-packed snack

4. Hardboiled eggs on crispbread crackers with everything bagel seasoning

Fans of everything bagel seasoning will love this snack. | Andrii_var/iStock/Getty Images

If you haven’t cooked up some hardboiled eggs yet, we recommend you start. This inexpensive, low-calorie snack is the perfect food to satisfy you. Each egg contains about 70 calories and up to 6 grams of protein. Mash your egg on a crispbread cracker and top with everything bagel seasoning for a savory snack that’s sure to satisfy. CookingLight reminds us hardboiled eggs last up to five days in the refrigerator, so you can make them ahead of time.

Next: A hint of sweetness perfect for your afternoon snack

5. Cottage cheese with cinnamon

Way more interesting than a bowl of cereal. | Rez-Art/iStock/Getty Images Plus

You probably passed the cottage cheese in the grocery store a hundred times without buying it. But this fresh cheese is creamy, satisfying, and delicious with some added cinnamon. Healthline mentions you can eat an entire cup for only 163 calories; you’ll get 28 grams of protein and a wealth of other nutrients. And Fitday says cinnamon can combat fat storage.

Next: These peas are better than the green variety.

6. Crispy roasted chickpeas

Chickpeas | iStock.com

Roasted chickpeas are savory and incredibly healthy (just don’t eat tons in one sitting). The Kitchn explains how to make this simple snack in the oven. Make sure you dry the chickpeas thoroughly before baking and don’t skimp on the olive oil. Once they’re out of the oven, you can add your choice of spices.

Next: A snack you can make ahead to have in a pinch

7. Cinnamon vanilla granola

Homemade granola | iStock.com

This Allrecipes.com creation is great by itself, or served over fresh fruit or yogurt. This recipe, which yields 2 quarts, can be stored in an airtight container for several days, making it a great go-to snack when a late-night craving attacks.

Next: A popular soy snack

8. Edamame

A small bowl of Edemame is a healthy appetizer option. | Studio Mishka/ iStock/Getty Images Plus

Edamame are just boiled soybeans that, with a little salt, are quite delicious. Health reports they’re super nutritious — 1 cup has 17 grams of protein, 8 grams of fiber, and less than 200 calories. If you prefer your snacks with a little crunch, roast them in the oven with some olive oil. You’ll never reach for potato chips again.

Next: A low-calorie alternative to a popular snack food

9. Sweet and spicy apple crisps

Pile of apples | iStock.com

A great replacement for potato chips, these apple crisps are a healthy snack you can feel good about. Each bite is a combination of sweet and spicy, topped off with a satisfying crunch. This Better Homes and Gardens recipe yields 4 servings. You can store the apple crisps in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Next: The ultimate superfood

10. Kale chips

Kale | iStock.com

Kale chips are a crispy and versatile snack. One that you can enjoy even if you wouldn’t normally opt for raw kale in a salad. According to the Minimalist Baker, this recipe can be modified to include whatever seasonings you want. This snack takes just 30 minutes to make. And it’s both vegan and gluten-free, which means it’s perfect for sharing with friends on a variety of different diets.

Next: A beautiful snack packed with protein and antioxidants.

11. Blueberry yogurt parfait

Yogurt parfait | iStock.com

A yogurt parfait is a great choice when you’re craving something sweet and healthy. The New York Times reports “this beautiful parfait tastes so much richer than it is.” The blueberries are packed with beneficial phytonutrients called anthocyanins, a great source of antioxidants. The recipe yields 4 servings, so plan (or gather friends) accordingly.

Next: This delicious fish makes for a great snack.

12. Smoked salmon on toast

You can put together this delicious light lunch in just minutes. | DronG/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Fish lovers, rejoice! Smoked salmon is one of the tastiest snacks for seafood fans. Throw some on toast with tomato and capers. SFGate reports just 3 ounces of the fish offers over 15 grams of protein, and it’s rich in healthy fats that aid in weight loss. When choosing your toast, go for whole grain, too.

Next: A sweet treat that won’t ruin your whole day

13. Honey-glazed almonds

Honey jar | iStock.com

Smoky, spicy, and sweet, these almonds will take care of any late-night craving. Cooking Light’s recipe even found a way to speed up the process. Rather than baking the almonds, this recipe uses your stovetop. This savory snack — 10 servings of 138 calories each — will store well in an airtight container.

Next: A surprising flavor combination you need to try

14. Chocolate avocado milkshake

Pile of avocados | iStock.com

Sometimes a sweet tooth can sneak up on us late at night. Skinny Chef’s chocolate avocado milkshake will cure your sugar craving while providing you with a serving of vegetables. It’ll be a smooth, savory treat that will fill you up and ensure you get a healthy dose of vitamins and nutrients!

Next: Nuts don’t have to be boring

15. Nut-and-seed mix with papaya

Bowl of walnut halves | iStock.com

This Food Network recipe is easy, filling, and really good for you, making it the perfect treat to eat before bed. This recipe, which yields 7 servings, combines hazelnuts, pecans, almonds, and walnuts, with a few seeds and dried fruit for a deliciously healthy snack. Enjoy!

Next: A quick, easy spread recipe

16. Peanut butter raisin spread

Homemade peanut spread | iStock.com

While all-natural peanut butter is good for you, the calorie-packed snack can pack on pounds if you eat too much. Instead, try PopSugar’s recipe for a peanut butter raisin spread. There is peanut butter in it, so it’s not a low-calorie or low-fat food. But it has fewer calories than regular peanut butter, making it a satisfying snack by itself or on a cracker.

Next: A versatile snack

17. Whole wheat flatbread

Homemade pita | iStock.com

Flatbread, especially this version with white whole wheat flour from A Beautiful Mess, is a delicious and healthy snack with a whole lot of potential. For instance, you can spread some peanut butter on top and add sliced fruit. Or you can dip it in hummus or other healthy dips. Any flatbread that you don’t eat the day you make it can be stored in a plastic bag or in plastic wrap, and can be kept in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to eat it again, you can slightly toast it in the oven or on the stove.

Next: Satisfy your sweet tooth with this cold treat

18. Chunky peach popsicles

Fresh peaches | iStock.com

Everybody loves popsicles. And a healthy popsicle — like these chunky peach popsicles from EatingWell — is a snack you can enjoy without any guilt. These popsicles are one of the rare sweet snacks that is not only low in calories, fat, and carbs, but is also vegan, diabetic-appropriate, and gluten-free. These popsicles can be stored in the freezer for up to three weeks — if you can really wait that long to finish them off.

Next: The homemade version of this popular snack is way better than store-bought

19. New crop applesauce

Applesauce | iStock.com

Applesauce is a delicious and healthy snack, especially when you make it yourself with fresh apples. The New York Times reports that new crop apples — the proper term for apples that have just been picked — aren’t something you’ll find at a supermarket. Instead, you’re best off heading to the farmers market, a farm stand, or even an apple tree in your own backyard. This delicious apple sauce can be served warm, at room temperature, or chilled, depending on your preference.

Next: A delicious low-sodium snack

20. Whole-wheat pretzel

Rolling out dough | iStock.com

Mayo Clinic recommends this snack if you’re looking for a low-sodium treat that’s loaded with flavor. At 182 calories and only 2 grams of fat, this is a guilt-free late-night snack. It’s so tasty that you’ll probably find yourself reaching for these pretzels throughout the day. This recipe yields 12 servings.

Kirsten Yovino and Lauren Weiler also contributed to this article.

3 Healthy Snacks for Weight Loss

Today I’m talking about one of my absolute fave topics. Drumroll please… snacking!

Lunch was at noon. It’s now 3pm and you’re starving, and dinner isn’t until 6pm. But you promised yourself you’d avoid the vending machine today and you don’t want to blow it.

Well, you can check those “guilty” feelings around having an afternoon snack at the door, because when done right, snacking can be healthy for you and even be a weight loss tool.

Snacking on the wrong types of foods — 90% of what’s in that vending machine – as well as not snacking at all can actually cause you to gain weight and simply be unhealthy.

Nut there are healthy snacks for weight loss that can help you stay satisfied, reduce how many calories you eat at your next meal, lower your cholesterol, improve your energy and make you feel happier!

The key is to make sure your snacks work for you, not against you. Yes, I’m talking to you pretzels and baked chips.

Crudites with guacamole: Choose bright colored veggies like carrots and red peppers instead of those fluorescent orange snacks and satisfy your crunchy craving. Pair them with guacamole for healthy fat that can actually help you burn fat.

Try two tablespoons of guacamole with 1 cup sliced veggies. Get creative and mix it up with grape tomatoes, celery, green beans, endive, radishes…in season produce is best!

Mixed berries, ricotta and flax: Need to satisfy your sweet tooth? Raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries have high water volume, are packed with fiber and are loaded with cell repairing antioxidants. Ricotta is satisfying and creamy, but also provides you with protein and calcium. Ground flaxseed adds healthy fat and more fiber.

Try 1 cup mixed berries, ⅔ cup ricotta and 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed for a perfect snack trifecta.

Apple, peanut butter and cinnamon: Sweet, tart, and crunchy, green apples will satisfy almost any craving while also being the highest in antioxidants of any apples. Sorry, Gala. Peanut butter is the perfect combo of protein, fat and fiber, all which help to keep you satisfied. Just make sure you’re opting for a natural peanut butter with no added sugars. A sprinkle of cinnamon not only adds a boost of flavor, but it’s also been shown to help control blood sugar and even to help you relax.

Ahhhh….Try one small sliced apple with one tablespoon pb and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon.

So give these healthy snacks for weight loss a try next time you’re feeling ravenous in between meals. Snacking the right way can actually help you consume less calories throughout the day, help you avoid that habitual pull to the vending machine for the not-so-great snack options, and lead you to be happier and healthier overall!

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Under 200 calorie snacks

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