Bored of munching on almonds, fruit and yogurt? We don't blame you! These equally good-for-you, original ways to satisfy those 4 p.m. hunger pangs from Rachel Beller, RD, author of Eat to Lose, Eat to Win, will make your taste buds rejoice. By Ava Feuer, REDBOOK.
Chocolate lava fiber cake
They may look like mini-muffins, but these portion-controlled cakes are a far better way to satisfy cravings. Buy them at any Trader Joe's, or via Zen Bakery, and melt an individually-wrapped dark chocolate square on top for a sweet treat. Since they're made with wheat bran and preservative-free, it's a good idea to freeze those you're not planning to eat within a few days.
Quinoa with mixed veggies
You know about the benefits of this super-grain, but chances are, it's stuck at your dinner table. Beller prizes a two-thirds-cup serving of quinoa, cooked veggies, and a touch of lemon juice for its antioxidants, protein, and healthy fat balance. "Carbs are something we overeat," says Beller. "At snack, you have parameters, so it's easier to avoid overeating then." Make a batch on Sunday, and divide into portions for the week ahead.
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Cheesy black bean soup
With it this cold even inside the house, we could all use a steaming snack. Settle down with one cup of low-sodium, microwavable black bean, lentil, or pea soup, and stir in a tablespoon of reduced fat shredded cheese. Beller recommends Dr. McDougall's Tetra Recart package, which requires no refrigeration and unlike canned soups, is BPA-free.
Teryaki tofu wrap with crudités
Not just for vegetarians or quick stir fries, teriyaki-flavored tofu is available at your local grocery store, or you can marinate the soy protein yourself. Then, roll two ounces in a six-to-eight-inch whole-wheat tortilla with lettuce, bell pepper strips, and a side of baby carrots. Not a fan of tofu? You can create a similar snack with tempe, hummus, or for meat-lovers, turkey.
Crackers, cheese and chocolate
Easy to store at your desk or make ahead, this well-balanced combination of fiber and healthy fats, plus an individually-wrapped dark chocolate square will keep you full until dinner. Smear one wedge of Laughing Cow Lite, or any spreadable goat cheese on two Wasa crackers, and top with cherry tomatoes, cucumbers or the like. "What I love about Wasa crackers is you get two large units," says Beller. "If I told somebody to take ten little crackers, and then put on the cheese, they would probably end up overeating."
Kamut puffs, egg and berries
A puffed grain available in any cereal aisle, kamut often reminds people of sugar snacks. "Everyone loves it," says Beller. Since it's super-low-calorie, you can eat an entire cup, and bask in crunchy satisfaction. Round it out with half-cup of berries - fresh or freeze-dried - and a protein-packed hard-boiled egg.
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Skinny mineral-rich wrap
"I recommend that every woman have nori on her kitchen counter," says Beller. Although you're unlikely to roll sushi at home, seaweed is full of minerals like magnesium, which improves hair, skin and nails. Spread two ounces of tuna or salmon salad made with olive oil or reduced fat vegenaise, and any vegetables you like on two nori seaweed sheets, and you're ready to rock and roll.
Toaster-oven tortilla pizza
If you thought pizza wasn't part of a wholesome diet, think again. Whole grains are an essential part of a healthy diet, and snack-time is the ideal moment to eat them in moderation. Spread one-quarter cup of marinara sauce over a 10-inch whole-wheat tortilla, sprinkle one ounce of reduced fat cheese and any vegetables you like on top, heat up, and say "grazie."
Even those who aren't wild about the thick texture of high-protein Greek yogurt like these frozen treats. In a bowl, mix one cup of nonfat Greek yogurt, one cup of thawed frozen (include their juice) or fresh berries and a few drops of stevia. Scoop the mixture into any popsicle mold and freeze for a satisfying, low-sugar snack.
Toasted raisin bread with goat cheese and berries
Bagel and cream cheese not part of your healthy eating plan? Use toasted, sprouted raisin bread as a substitution, and cover in two tablespoons of soft goat cheese. A half-cup of berries rounds out the slightly sweet snack.
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Tuna pita pocket
"When I put my patients on an action plan, they give me this double-take and say, 'you're serious? I can have half a sandwich for a snack?'" says Beller. "Often, a stuffed pita is less caloric than the bars or nuts they're eating already." Spread two ounces of tuna salad, made with olive oil or reduced fat vegenaise, and as many veggies as you like on half of a whole wheat pita for a filling snack that feels like a true mini-meal.
Whipped ricotta and berries
For a late-night sweet treat that won't leave you feeling guilty, stir together a half-cup of mixed berries, a half-cup nonfat ricotta, and a few drops of vanilla or one tablespoon of honey. No ice cream, no problem.
Veggie burger wrap
For afternoons at home, heat up the store-bought veggie burger of your choice - Beller likes those from Amy's, Trader Joe's and Dr. Prager's - and top with tomato, red onion, and cucumber. Wrap in a few lettuce leaves, and if you like, top with a squirt of mustard.
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