There is one diet myth we need to bust right now: that healthy food is boring. We’re accustomed to thinking that because companies want to sell us highly processed, cheap to make food and even fast food. The reality is that clean eating can be super flavorful! It’s all in how you cook it. Learn about some low calorie snacks you will love!
Contrary to popular belief, snacking doesn’t go against a weight-loss program (unless you’re doing intermittent fasting); in fact, it is highly beneficial since it keeps cravings at bay. Eating low calorie snacks throughout the day can trick your body into thinking it doesn’t need to store up energy, thus preventing the development of fat deposits.
Below, find quick instructions for making healthy, 5-minute snacks out of things already in your pantry, plus some tasty vegan options. We’ll begin with an overview of essential low calorie foods we recommend buying, so you can include all the necessary ingredients for these snacks on your shopping list and keep them handy at home!
Low Calorie Ingredients You Should Add to Your Shopping List
Since snacks are complements to your daily meals, the ingredients required to prepare low calorie snacks will be mostly the same as those for low calorie meals. Therefore, the following list is centered around the most nutritious and versatile foods for healthy eating.
- Soy in All Its Forms: Soybeans and sprouts, soy cheese, tofu, and soy milk. These items are so versatile in the kitchen! They’re great for preparing smoothies, soups, snack bowls, salads, dressings, dips, entrées, and side dishes.
- Sweet Potato: You can cook it in a conventional or toaster oven for a healthier alternative to bread or french fries. Have you heard of sweet potato toast? It is an exciting way to enjoy endless, nutritious toppings. If you’re interested, you can try a slice with some avocado and a poached egg (about 170 calories).
- Tahini Sauce: This ingredient is made from sesame seeds and is perfect as a dressing or dip. It replaces highly-processed sauces.
- Greek Yogurt: Have it for breakfast, a snack before a workout, or as a companion sauce for savory dishes. Greek yogurt is high in protein and has Probiotics (healthy bacteria that can help boost your immune system and decrease stomach issues, such as diarrhea and pain. Use Greek yogurt as a replacement for sour cream – nobody will ever know.
- Vegenaise (Vegan Mayonnaise): Use this egg-free mayo to prepare a tuna salad or mix it with crumbled, low-fat cheese (goat, feta, or ricotta) and serve it over a slice of sweet potato toast.
- Ginger: Fresh ginger adds a unique flavor to soups, sautéed vegetables, and broths. Powdered ginger combines well with other ingredients in salads, sauces, dips, sweet smoothies, and baked desserts. Ginger is super beneficial for your digestion and overall health and has the bonus of being anti-inflammatory.
- Kale: Doubles as a salad or soup ingredient, and you can bake it with salt until crispy for a tasty alternative to chips.
- Cauliflower: Broccoli’s cousin makes for a great salad or soup ingredient. It even works as a low calorie substitute for pizza dough!
- Raw Honey: There is a slight misconception that raw honey is just for desserts, but this isn’t the case. You can melt it for salad dressings or mix it with lemon juice and fresh or dried herbs as a sauce for poultry and fish. Raw honey is anti-inflammatory and antibacterial.
- Quinoa: It’s a healthy alternative to rice, and you can create virtually any dish with it. Quinoa is high in protein compared to other plant-based foods. It has all essential amino acids and 8 grams of protein per cooked cup.
- Zucchini: Another champion veggie, full of nutrients and water that keep you hydrated and full. Slice them thin, toss in olive oil and salt and bake for 2 hours at 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Butternut Squash: Fresh, baked, cubed, mashed, sweet, or savory, it’s a colorful and tasty alternative to potatoes that provides plenty of antioxidants.
Essentially, a well-rounded grocery list for preparing low calorie snacks, and for healthy eating in general, is made up of superfoods. They keep your diet balanced and nutrient-rich.
With a selection of whole-grains (cereal replacement), berries, leafy greens, antioxidant-rich veggies, fresh or frozen meat (chicken, pork, beef) and eggs, you’re mostly covered. Remember to include seeds with your grains: pumpkin, hemp, chia, sunflower, sesame, and flax. Pair these with boiled, baked, or broiled poultry, and you’re all set to prepare some delicious low calorie snacks.
Herbs and spices that boost your metabolism and immunity are ideal ingredients to have at your disposal. When snacking, using these fresh ingredients can yield excellent results. If you have begun meal prepping, simply ration out these ingredients while cooking for use in both your full meals and snacks.
Healthy Snacks You Can Prepare in Less Than Five Minutes
While getting the following snacks ready can take five minutes or less, you will need to have a few ingredients prepared ahead of time. Here are two savory options and two sweet options.
This exotic fruit is a superfood that checks all the boxes for healthy eating—weight-loss and antiaging! Also, it is available in puréed form. You can serve it alone or blend it with a mix of frozen fruit and milk (coconut, almond, or soy). Top with dried cranberries, slices of pineapple and mango, granola, and shredded coconut. Fair warning about this snack: it’s a kick to your digestion.
The New PB+J
Toast a slice of multigrain bread and spread a layer of your favorite nut butter followed by a thin layer of thick berry jam. Optional sweet toppings include banana slices or blueberries. Sprinkle cinnamon powder on top for a healthy boost.
This classic has infinite variations. One that we recommend covers most food groups, is nutrient-dense, and very filling. Spread low-fat cream cheese or hummus on multigrain or sweet potato toast. Then, add a layer of mashed avocado. Top with fresh tuna or tuna salad and slices of soft-boiled eggs. Garnish with kosher salt, freshly cracked black pepper, and chili flakes. As the name suggests, the sweet potato provides a lovely counterbalance to the savory toppings.
Egg Sandwich or Omelet
The fun thing about sandwiches is that you get to play with your ingredients. However you decide to make them, egg sandwiches pack as many benefits as a layered avocado toast. Fry or scramble the eggs, swap out lettuce for spinach or kale and combine with tomatoes or peppers. Omelets allow for plenty of variations, especially when you consider ingredients like scallions, cheese, and minced garlic cloves.
Vegan Options You Will Love
Each of the 5-minute snacks can be vegan; simply swap out the dairy products for their non-dairy equivalent. Read on for four more alternatives; again, two sweet and two savory options!
This popular breakfast dish doubles as a snack that you can keep in the fridge and grab whenever. It’s called overnight because you leave the oats soaking overnight in a blend of yogurt and milk to get the same effect as you would if you were cooking them. Mix with fruit or nut butter, add rolled oats, and save in the fridge for 8─12 hours. For vegan, use non-dairy yogurt and milk.
Chia seeds absorb liquid like sponges, so they expand a lot. This makes them perfect for desserts that double as snacks. Mix your chia seeds with your non-dairy milk of choice, add your favorite sweetener that isn’t refined sugar (maple syrup, vanilla extract, coconut sugar), and let sit for an hour (in or out of the fridge). Once it has set, add your favorite toppings and serve. Treat yourself to some vegan chocolate chips!
Cucumber or Zucchini Roll-ups
For this snack, use a peeler to create thin slices of either cucumber or zucchini and spread hummus on each. Then, layer pickled veggies or smoked turkey slices (or both). Next, top them with fresh herbs like parsley, mint, or coriander, and gently roll them.
Pita or Naan Bread Veggie Pizza
This savory option is similar to regular pizza but uses vegan ingredients. The pita or naan replaces the crust, and you can use plant-based cheese. Place in the oven for about twenty minutes and serve.
When preparing snacks, it is essential to make sure you give your body everything it needs for fuel in a few bites. Make sure to include protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Legumes (beans, lentils) and yogurt are surprising sources of protein.
An even faster and easier way to ingest nutritional basics is to blend them into smoothies or juices. Both can be sweet and savory and have endless variations. Green juices and celery juice are great low calorie, healthy alternatives to sodas or coffee. You want to stay away from carbonated drinks.
Take your snacks beyond low calorie eating and use them to aid your digestion and boost your overall health by sneaking in ingredients that also help with joints, hair, nails, and skin. You can even sprinkle supplements on top as a garnish, such as spirulina or nutritional yeast (of a welcome cheesy flavor).