People who have adopted calorie-restricted lifestyles to improve their health often wonder how harmful or sinful a particular food is. A woman following a regime of 1500 calories a day or a man limiting himself 2200 daily calories need to know how much of the daily allowance that piece of apple pie with cheddar cheese is going to cost, calorie-wise.
Good low-calorie snacks that are both healthy and filling are a great choice for young and old, even folks who aren’t keeping an eye on their waistlines. Here are twelve delicious and nutritious ideas – all of them containing less than 100 calories.
- Applesauce made super chunky by adding a diced tennis-ball sized apple to 1/2 cup of any unsweetened store-bought variety has about 90 calories per 4oz serving. Add a pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg, or allspice for some extra spice (literally).
- Carrots and hummus, but don’t overdo it. Carrots are high in fiber and sugar (for a veggie) which makes them taste sweet so limit the quantity to 10 baby carrots (or the equivalent in bigger carrots) and 2 tablespoons of hummus. If you purchase hummus, check the ingredients list and make sure the product isn’t high-calorie due to added sugar. Real hummus is made from ground garbanzo beans (chickpeas) and calls for no extra sweetener.
- Baby corn and soy sauce may seem like an unlikely pairing but trying dipping 20 baby corns into a low-salt soy sauce. Baby corn packs a lot of folates, the B vitamin that supports creating new cells and maintaining old ones.
- Apple slices and cheese. Speaking of apple pie with cheddar cheese, that will blow your 100-calorie boat out of the water – so to speak – so lose the carby crust and substitute with one Laughing Cow Mini Babybel Light cheese wheel (or find a calorie equivalent cheese by looking at the packages) and half of a sliced baseball-sized apple. Even this small amount of cheese is high in protein (6gm) to fill you up. As a bonus, the cheese satisfies 20 percent of your daily need for calcium.
- Almonds. Whole. 14 only. Why so few? Because they are the most nutritionally dense nut with the highest concentration of nutrients per calorie. If you are jonesing for some chocolate, have eight home-made cocoa-dusted almonds – yum!
- Pistachios in the shell or shelled are higher in protein and lower in saturated fats than most other nuts. One can have 22 pistachios and stay within a 100 calories limit. An October 2011 study published in “Appetite” magazine discovered that “students allowed to serve themselves pistachios in the shell consumed 41 percent fewer calories than those allowed to serve themselves shelled pistachios.” The psychological perception that nuts in the shell are a bigger portion plus the added time it takes to liberate the small nuts from their sometimes-stubborn shells slowed the snackers down until their brains told them to stop eating, already.
- Kiwi and coconut are a combo you might never have considered. Slice one large kiwi – which gives 100 percent of your daily vitamin C! – and garnish it with 1 tablespoon of unsweetened shredded coconut. Groceries usually put the coconut in the baking aisle. Sometimes you can find it frozen.
- Blueberries are loaded with antioxidants that strengthen the immune system and fight toxic free radicals. Indulge yourself in one level cup of this scrumptious fruit. It’s great for the skin and improves the complexion.
- Red grapes are naturally sweet because they are high in fructose. 28 grapes (many people prefer seedless varieties). Studies suggest that red grapes can lower the risk of a heart attack and boost cognition (thinking).
- Cheerios are one cereal that comes without a lot of added sugar – so resist the temptation to add your own. One cup of the breakfast puffs stays under 100 calories and satisfies the munchies without going overboard.
- Popcorn is one of the best low-calorie deals going, if you don’t mind the carbs. A 3-cup serving contains 3 grams of dietary fiber (12 percent of your dietary requirement) and 18 grams of total carbohydrates. Like Cheerios, crunchy popcorn can be very satisfying when limiting other carby foods.
- Dark chocolate. Saving the best for last, 2 tablespoons of chips, 3 squares from a bar or 5 dark chocolate Hershey’s Kisses all slide home with fewer than 100 calories.
Who said low-calorie snacks have to be bland and boring? Most herbs and spices add almost no calories to food, yet deliver essential nutrition, even taken in small amounts over long periods of time.
With the holiday season coming soon, get familiar with the snacks and treats you can expect to face at home or in the office break room. Go for the nuts instead of the brownies. Focus on the cheese and vegetable trays and downplay the crackers and crusty, bready offerings.
An ounce of research into how many calories your favorite foods have could save you pounds of body weight. Survive your next snack attack in style and comfort by turning to any of the food ideas presented here.
Who knows? Perhaps these 12 ideas will inspire you to create your own favorite 100-calorie snacks!