We know it can be a challenge to shift to healthy eating habits when you have an entire family to consider. However, there are lots of healthy, easy-prep snacks that will appeal to everyone–even picky eaters. At every weight loss retreat we host, we show our clients how to prepare delicious snacks with a health-conscious slant and we hear the consistent refrain, “Wow, I never realized that healthy snacks could taste so good!” But you don’t need to register for a stay at a luxury weight loss resort to receive our suggestions. Today we’re going to share some of our favorite healthy snacks that will satisfy everyone, without inciting a riot. But first, some basics.
Healthy weight loss starts by putting the best possible ingredients into whatever you prepare. This is one of the most important concepts we teach during workshops at our weight loss resort. We encourage skipping the shrink-wrapped produce and packaged goods in the center of your supermarket and opt to buy fresh and local from your nearest farmers’ market instead. Whenever possible, buy organic. Sure, it’s a little more expensive but when it comes to your health, there’s no benefit to skimping. Now that you’ve got the right ingredients in your cart, on to the snack suggestions!
Granola is a sweet, crunchy plant-based (aka vegan) treat that can be eaten dry as a snack or with almond milk as a breakfast cereal. Instead of buying off the shelf, skip the preservatives and other mystery ingredients by making your own! Believe it or not, granola is fairly simple to make (you just need an oven and a baking sheet) and can be customized to your taste by using your own spice blend, nut selection and dried fruits. Involve your kids in the preparation process and watch how much ownership they take over “their” granola.
Nuts & raisins
Say goodbye to bleached white flour and added sugars found in packaged snack foods. This simple but natural treat is another salty-but-sweet snack that both kids and adults crave. Buy a bag of unsalted peanuts (add your own salt to keep your sodium intake down) and mix equal parts nuts and raisins. For added Vitamin E and potassium (and to add some grown up flair), swap out peanuts for almonds.
Hummus and …
Everyone loves a good dip. But many dips are prepared with sour cream, buttermilk and other fatty bases. Replace these dips with all the fiber found in chickpeas, the main ingredient in hummus. Most hummus recipes call for tahini, a paste made from ground sesame seeds but if you or members of your family don’t like the tart taste, simply replace with a splash of sesame oil. Hummus is only as healthy as whatever it’s spread on, so opt for whole wheat crackers or veggie slices.
Everyone knows how wild we are for smoothies—and for good reason! Smoothies are a healthy alternative to milkshakes; they’re basically just a heaping serving of fruit without any added sugar. Use almond milk to keep your smoothie dairy free or add a splash of water and ice for a frosty kick on a hot day. Throw in a banana for added sweetness and a creamy texture. Check out our tips to make the perfect smoothie then dive right in.
Want something a little more substantial than a smoothie but still want to up your fruit intake? Mix things up with a delicious and super easy fruit salad. For meals and snacks at our weight loss resort, VeraVia chefs provide fresh farm-to-table fruit and our guests are often surprised at how flavor-filled fresh fruits can be. By adding a dollop of yogurt (not too much!) and a tablespoon of lemon juice to your chopped melons, grapes, strawberries and kiwi, you can instantly prepare a fresh snack that works for after school, mid-workday or dessert.
DIY kale chips
Nothing satisfies cravings for crunch than better chips. Skip the greasy potato chips and salty tortilla chips and make your own, ultra-healthy kale chips. At their most basic, kale chips require three simple ingredients: kale, olive oil and salt. The rest is up to you. Add more interest by sprinkling with garlic salt or turn up the heat with a light dusting of cayenne pepper or smoked paprika. In fact, kale chips are the perfect companion for your freshly prepared batch of hummus!
Asking your family members to swap out their favorite snacks for uncharted new ideas can seem daunting. Involve your children in the snack preparation process and explain to them how their bodies process food and the benefits of unhealthy eating.
Now that we’ve shared our favorites, what are some of your personal alternatives for healthier family snacking?