CN Digital Studioby Lexi Patronis, Glamour
I was hit with some cold, hard reality yesterday when I decided to check on the nutritional information of the wasabi peas on which I was happily snacking. Normally, of course, this is information that would be right on the package, but these peas were an impulse buy from a bulk bin; I remembered seeing them on a list somewhere of healthy snacks, so I went for it. But when I looked them up later, I discovered that one 1/4 cup serving is 106 calories, with 190mg of sodium. Not terrible! Just not great, either, considering I'd apparently already had at least 2 1/2 servings (I do love me some wasabi peas!).
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Anyway, the whole thing made me think about some other snacks that might not be as healthy as we think they are, such as:
1) Non-fat ice cream: When dairy products zap out the fat, they often add in sugar and the calorie count can still stay high (one cup of fat-free vanilla ice cream can be as much as 340 calories and 42g of sugar). Plus, a little fat isn't a bad thing--it actually helps your belly feel full. Without that fat, it's easier to keep eating and eating.
To make it healthier: Stick to brands with real ingredients, like milk, sugar, and cream, but limit yourself to half a cup (about the size of half a tennis ball), and top it with berries and in-season fruits.
2) Granola: You're smart, and probably already know that granola (and granola bars) can be super-crazy loaded with sugar (24.5g) and fat (30g)--one cup can have up to 600 calories! It can be easy to forget, since you so often see it on health-food shelves and, yes, in bulk bins.
To make it healthier: Find a variety that doesn't have sugar in the top three ingredients listed--or make your own, so you can control how much sugar goes in. And pay attention to portion sizes (I need this reminder, obviously!): have just a few tablespoons as a snack, or 1/4 cup if you're making it a meal.
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3) Dried fruit: It's fruit, just dried out...should totally be healthy! But it's not always. Some brands add sugar and syrups during the drying process to up the sweet factor, especially to things such as cranberries, which can be super-tart.
To make it healthier: Buy brands that don't have added sugar or high fructose corn syrup listed in the labels--or just cut up fresh fruit and DIY!
4) Microwave popcorn: Popcorn is an excellent snack--filling, tasty, contains a good amount of fiber. But the bags you nuke in the microwave can be salt bombs, which also have lots of stuff like artificial butter and coloring.
To make it healthier: Pop your own on the stovetop, old-fashioned style. It's easy, you can control the amount of oil and salt, and it can save you money. Win, win...win!
What foods that you thought were healthy turned out not to be?
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