Summer’s coming to an end, school’s starting again… but your weight loss journey is still underway!
Whether you’re sending the kids back to class or hitting the books yourself, some healthy back-to-school snacks always come in handy.
Eating regularly helps us stay satisfied, resist temptation, and avoid over-eating.
Moreover, studies show that planning and preparing food ahead of time is the key to making consistently healthy choices.
So, here are some quick tips on designing your own A+ nibbles, plus ten delicious and healthy back-to-school snacks to get you started!
How to Make Healthy Snacks
Snacks play an important role in weight loss by helping us combat cravings and avoid over-eating at mealtimes.
Many people already know that snacking is healthy, but do you know what foods to choose between meals?
Look for snacks that contain:
- A balance of complex carbohydrates and lean protein. Fiber in complex carbs helps regulate your blood sugar and keep you full until the next meal. Lessen unhealthy fat intake by choosing lean proteins.
- Minimal added sugar. Instead, go for fruit or nuts if you’re craving something sweet.
- Ingredients you like! If you pack super-healthy snacks made of foods you’ll never eat, it defeats the purpose of planning. Bring munchies that you (or your kids) will grab instead of reaching for a doughnut, not something you’ll leave sitting in your lunchbox all day.
Fun Healthy Snack Ideas
Snack possibilities vary a lot depending on your (or your kid’s) schedule and preferences.
Sometimes we need a quick food to grab and go, sometimes, we have a little more flexibility to prepare something fun.
Regardless, be realistic about your time and storage constraints and then plan snacks that are healthy and doable for you.
If you’re looking for some inspiration, pick a few of these healthy back-to-school snacks to try this week!
Apple and Peanut Butter
1 medium apple + 1 tbsp natural peanut butter
Calories: 180 Protein: 5g Carbs: 33g
Pair one medium apple with 1 tbsp of natural peanut butter.
Keep the skin on your apple for an extra boost of fiber, and choose your peanut butter wisely. It’s important to pick a “natural” peanut butter that has only peanuts and salt.
Most other varieties are unnecessarily high in added sugars. If you’re allergic to peanut butter, or just don’t like it, swap the spread for a slice of low-fat cheddar or colby cheese.
This substitution would bring nutrient totals for your snack to 128 calories, 7g of protein, and 31g of carbs.
Carrots and Hummus
15 baby carrots + ¼ cup original hummus
Calories: 193 Protein: 5g Carbs: 20g
Grab a big handful of baby carrots (or sliced carrots) and a portion out a couple of spoonfuls of hummus to build this easy snack.
Carrots give the crunch you crave, while hummus provides some low-fat protein.
Hummus and pita is a popular appetizer at restaurants, but you can give this dish a healthy makeover by pairing the flavorful dip with veggies instead of bread.
Mix it up and substitute sliced bell peppers or cucumbers if carrots aren’t your thing.
Almonds and Grapes
1oz of almonds (¼ cup or 22 nuts) + ½ cup of grapes
Calories: 220 Protein: 6.5g Carbs: 20g
This is about as easy as it gets for grab-and-go. Buy a bag of unsalted almonds (roasted or raw) and some seedless grapes.
Portion out ¼ cup of almonds + ½ cup of grapes into a small container or plastic baggie, and you have an easy, eat-anywhere snack. No preparation or refrigeration is needed!
Berries and Yogurt
1 cup plain, non-fat yogurt + ¼ cup fresh or frozen berries + dash of cinnamon (optional)
Calories: 155 Protein: 14g Carbs: 22g
Berries and cream are a classic flavor.
Enjoy this healthier version by pairing sweet berries (fresh or frozen) with plain, fat-free yogurt.
Eat them straight, or add a dash of cinnamon to bring out the sweetness of the berries and cut the bitterness of the yogurt.
In addition to its delicious flavor, cinnamon also promotes various health benefits, including lower blood sugar.
Plain yogurt is a healthier choice than flavored or vanilla yogurt because it doesn’t contain excess added sugars.
If you really dislike the bitterness, try adding a teaspoon of honey – it will still have much less sugar than most flavored yogurts.
Cottage Cheese and Applesauce
½ cup fat-free cottage cheese + ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
Calories: 131 Protein: 14g Carbs: 18g
This is another ultra-easy snack.
Pick up some protein-rich cottage cheese in the dairy section, and serve it in a bowl half-and-half with unsweetened applesauce.
If you’re in a rush, just pack the cottage cheese and grab an individual-sized applesauce to combine on the go.
In choosing store-bought applesauce, favor unsweetened applesauce over the original version.
Unsweetened usually has about half the sugar when compared to the original.
If this combination sounds strange, or you don’t want to hassle with packing the cottage cheese, grab a low-fat cheese stick instead and pair it with an individual applesauce cup.
Strawberries and Chocolate
½ cup strawberries halved + 1oz dark chocolate (70-85% cocoa)
Calories: 194 Protein: 2.7g Carbs: 19g
Sometimes you’re just really craving chocolate. And that’s okay! Dark chocolate can be incorporated as part of a healthy, balanced diet – the trick is moderation and choosing your chocolate wisely.
Cocoa contains antioxidants and can help suppress appetite, but the milk and fat added to make it into commercial chocolate counteract these natural health benefits.
So, pick a chocolate that has a high percentage of cocoa (at least 70%) and then limit yourself to about a 1oz serving.
If you melt it down (with a splash of skim milk) and dip strawberries in it, this ounce of chocolate goes a lot further!
Half of a Turkey Sandwich
1 slice of whole-wheat bread + 2 slices of turkey (optional extras: lettuce, tomato, mustard)
Calories: 144 Protein: 10g Carbs: 24g
Your basic turkey sandwich is a great snack option if you cut it in half.
The fiber in whole-grain bread will help keep you full, while lean turkey provides the protein you need to power through.
Add some lettuce, tomato, and/or mustard for very few extra calories and lots more flavor. Skip the less healthy additions of cheese or mayo.
Banana Berry Smoothie
1 cup ice + 1 cup fat-free milk (or milk substitute) + ½ banana + ½ cup blueberries
Calories: 175 Protein: 9g Carbs: 36g
Directions: Place all ingredients in a mixer and blend until well combined.
Smoothies make great snacks because they help you stay hydrated and they’re portable enough to drink anywhere.
They’re also an easy way for kids (and adults) to get multiple servings of fruit in one drink.
You can make a different flavor every day by switching up the fruit or using water or 100% juice instead of milk.
If you’re planning meals ahead of time, freeze your fruit (peel the banana before throwing it in the freezer), and then you can skip the ice! Just combine frozen fruit and milk in the blender for a quick, easy and delicious snack.
Egg and Avocado Wrap
½ flour tortilla (or whole wheat wrap) + ¼ avocado + 1 egg, scrambled + ¼ cup chopped tomato
Calories: 233 Protein: 10g Carbs: 19g
This is the most caloric snack on the list, but if you accidentally skipped breakfast (or woke up too late to eat), this may be the perfect solution.
The egg gives this snack recipe a punch of protein, while the avocado provides healthy fats, and using only half of a tortilla keeps it low in carbs.
If you prefer a little spice in your food, try adding some black or cayenne pepper to your egg.
As with all of these snacks, the trick to keeping this wrap healthy is a good use of portion control.
If you’re looking for a less breakfast-themed snack, consider turkey lettuce wraps! They’re even lower in calories and a great on-the-go snack for kids and adults alike.
Pumpkin Pie Baked Oatmeal
Recipe makes 8 servings
Calories: 167 Protein: 5.7g Carbs: 25g
Ingredients: 1 egg + 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted + ¾ cup canned pumpkin (no salt added) + 2 cups fat-free milk (or milk substitute) + 1 tsp vanilla extract + 1/4 cup sugar + 1 tsp baking soda + ½ tsp salt + 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice + 2 cups raw oats
Directions: Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine all ingredients except oats in a medium mixing bowl and blend well.
Add oats and stir. Pour mixture into a greased 8×8 pan or pie dish. Bake 25-30 minutes or until firm.
This is a great fall snack or a filling on-the-go breakfast when paired with yogurt!
The oatmeal and pumpkin give this recipe plenty of fiber to keep you full, while the flavor makes it feel like a treat.
Simply cut out a slice and put it in a plastic baggie for a homemade oatmeal bar that you can eat anywhere.
If you’re not a fan of this harvest flavor, the same recipe works well with 2-3 smashed bananas instead of the canned pumpkin!
What are your favorite healthy back-to-school snacks? We’d love to hear your ideas in the comments section below!