When hunger strikes, your first thought may be to reach for the potato chips. After all, you’ve been trained to think of snacks as a guilty—and unhealthy—pleasure. But it doesn’t have to be that way! We went to top health-food bloggers to find nonguilty snack ideas that are sweet, salty, creamy and colorful.
Satisfy a Sugar Craving: Choco-Banana “Nice Cream”
Bananas are naturally sweet, and when processed in a food processor or blender, they develop a deliciously creamy texture similar to soft-serve ice cream. One serving of this “nice cream” contains 14 grams of sugar. The cocoa powder adds a strong chocolate flavor and minimal calories. Unsweetened cocoa powder is bitter on its own but sweetens when paired with the natural sugars from the banana. It’s all good for you, but it feels so indulgent. Serves two.
2 bananas, sliced and frozen
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
Place the bananas and cocoa powder in a food processor or high-speed blender. Process or blend until completely smooth, pausing, if necessary, to push the ingredients toward the bottom of the processor or blender. Serve immediately.
Tip: Have overripe bananas on your countertop? Peel, slice and freeze them, and you’ll be ready when your next “nice cream” craving hits.
Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in the New York City area. AmyDGorin.com
Beat the Afternoon Slump: Matcha Cupcakes
Those bright green lattes at your local café are made with matcha, a powdered Japanese green tea. Each of these pick-me-up cupcakes contains one teaspoon of matcha—the equivalent of more than a half cup of coffee. Yet matcha is less likely than coffee to leave you feeling wired, thanks to a natural abundance of theanine, an amino acid that helps temper the buzz of caffeine. These cupcakes give the energy boost you need without the jitters. Plus, they’re low in sugar and have protein from the almond flour. Makes nine cupcakes.
1¼ cups almond flour
¼ cup coconut flour
½ cup Swerve or cane sugar, or a combo
2½ Tablespoons matcha
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup Greek yogurt (dairy or coconut)
2 large eggs or vegan egg-replacer equivalent
½ cup neutral oil, such as avocado or grape
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup almond milk
1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients with a fork or whisk, making sure no lumps of almond or coconut flour remain. Add all the wet ingredients except the vinegar, and stir until uniform in texture. Add the vinegar, and stir well. Pour the batter into nine wells of a cupcake pan (either with liners or greased), filling them nearly all the way, and bake 25 to 30 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean.
Ariane Resnick, CNC, Los Angeles–based certified nutritionist, celebrity chef and best-selling author of Wake/Sleep: What to Eat and Do for More Energy and Better Sleep. Recipe reproduced by permission of The Countryman Press. All rights reserved. ArianeCooks.com
Postworkout hunger: Avocado Sweet Potato “Toast” with Hummus
Sweet potatoes are packed with slow-burning carbohydrates and beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant that promotes postexercise recovery by protecting the body against inflammation. They’re also rich in magnesium, a natural muscle relaxer that can thwart muscle spasms and cramps. The hummus, made from puréed chickpeas, is an excellent source of protein, which is helpful for repairing muscle damage from exercise. After a workout, this is the snack to grab. Serves four.
1 large sweet potato
2 ounces hummus
Dash cayenne pepper
1 small/medium avocado (3 ounces), sliced
Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the ends off the sweet potato, and slice lengthwise, one-third- to one-half-inch thick. (Too thin, and they’ll be too soft to make a good “toast.”)
Place the slices on parchment paper, and bake until they are tender, roughly 20 minutes. When ready, they should be easily pierced with a fork.
Remove the slices from the oven, and allow to cool for two to three minutes. Spread the hummus on potato slices, and garnish with a dash of cayenne. Top with avocado slices, black pepper and a spritz of lime juice.
Note: Refrigerate any unused potato slices in an airtight container.
Tammy Lakatos Shames, RDN, CDN, CFT, and Lyssie Lakatos, RDN, CDN, CFT, aka the Nutrition Twins. Their most recent book is Nutrition Twins’ Veggie Cure. NutritionTwins.com
When Dinner Isn’t Ready: Creamy Curried Red Lentil Dip with Raw Veggies and Tortilla Chips
Prepare this go-to dip ahead of time so that you have it on hand when those predinner munchies strike. The combination of fiber and plant-based protein in the lentils fills up that growling hole in your stomach and helps you resist sugary snacks. Lentils and other beans cause your blood sugar to rise slowly and steadily, and the effect continues for hours. Fewer blood sugar swings translate into reduced appetite. Serves eight.
1 cup red lentils, rinsed well
2 teaspoons mild curry powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 Tablespoon coconut or olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
Assortment of fresh veggies and whole-grain tortilla chips for dipping
Add the lentils, curry powder, salt and three cups of water to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, then cook for 30 minutes, until the lentils are soft and no liquid remains. While the lentils are cooking, add the oil to a sauté pan and sauté the onion for five minutes. Transfer the onions to a blender, along with the cooked lentils. Blend until creamy and smooth. Transfer it to a serving bowl, and add a drizzle of oil on top. Serve with fresh veggies and tortilla chips.
Note: This will keep in the refrigerator for four days, so whip up this dip whenever the urge hits.
Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN, New York City–based nutrition-and-wellness expert and a New York Times best-selling author. Her most recent cookbook is Eating in Color: Delicious, Healthy Recipes for You and Your Family. FrancesLargemanRoth.com
Movie Night: “Cheesy” Popcorn with Nutritional Yeast
Craving some mindless munching? One serving of this air-popped popcorn is a filling four cups, but it’s only about 120 calories—so you can enjoy plenty of guilt-free hand-to-mouth action. Bonus: Popcorn is a whole grain. Four cups deliver five grams of fiber. Nutritional yeast adds a cheesy, nutty flavor to foods…provides protein (eight grams per quarter cup)…and is incredibly rich in vitamin B-12. Serves one.
¼ cup unpopped popcorn kernels
1 Tablespoon coconut or safflower oil (Note: If you use the coconut oil, it will add a slight flavor.)
1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast
Place a large, flat pan or popcorn popper on the stove top, and turn heat to medium-high. Add a thin layer of oil to the bottom of the pan. Add in one or two kernels, and cover with a lid until they pop. Then remove those pieces, and add the remaining kernels. Turn the heat down to medium, cover the pot, and wait until the popcorn popping slows. Remove from heat, transfer to a bowl, and add nutritional yeast.
Optional: Mix in one-quarter cup sunflower or pumpkin seeds for a boost of selenium, a brain-boosting mineral that’s abundant in nuts and seeds.
Lara Field, MS, RD, LDN, founder of FEED Nutrition Consulting in Chicago. FeedNutrition.com