Guilt-Free Homemade Snacks

We spend nearly $8 billion a year on snack food in the U.S., but trends are improving. Seventy-eight percent of us are snacking at home now, and about 40% of consumers are looking for snacks that provide health benefits, according to the Institute for Food Technologies.

We teamed up with Jessie Price at EatingWell Magazine to learn how to indulge our taste for snacks and save money at the same time by supplementing some of our favorite store-bought snacks with homemade versions.

Also See: 5 Dinners, 1 Bag of Groceries

Check out these four easy and delicious recipes:

Lemon-Parm Popcorn

- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
- Pinch of salt
- 3 cups air-popped popcorn
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Whisk oil, lemon pepper and salt in a small bowl. Drizzle over the popcorn, toss to coat, and finally, sprinkle Parmesan cheese over your popcorn and serve immediately.

Active time: 5 minutes
Makes: Two 1 1/2 cup servings
Per serving: 99 calories; 6 g fat; 9 g carbohydrate; 3 g protein; 2 g fiber

"Popcorn is a great snack because it's naturally low in fat, high in fiber, and super fast and easy to make," says Price of Eating Well. One of her favorite tricks for making popcorn is to put a half-cup of kernels in a paper bag, fold it over, and pop it in the microwave for a few minutes.

Kale Chips

- 1 large bunch kale, tough stems removed, leaves torn into pieces (about 16 cups)
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat your oven to 400°F and place your racks at the center and top. Take your kale and remove the hard stems, tearing the leaves into smaller pieces. Make sure to dry it thoroughly, as your chips won't crisp up properly if there's any moisture. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and then massage the oil and salt onto the kale leaves to evenly coat.

Also See: The Best Bulk Bargains

Place the leaves on two large rimmed baking sheets, making sure the leaves don't overlap. Make this in batches if you have to. Bake until the leaves are a little crisp, switching pans halfway, 8 to 12 minutes total.

Active time: 25 minutes
Makes: Four, 2 cup servings
Per serving: 110 calories; 5 g fat; 16 g carbohydrate; 5 g protein; 6 g fiber;
Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Zesty Bean Dip with Chili Lime Tortillas

Zesty Bean Dip
- 1/4 cup fat-free canned refried beans
- 1 tablespoon salsa
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 minced scallion (optional)
- 1 ounce tortilla chips (about 10)

"This is a healthy version that couldn't be easier, and it also works great as a sandwich spread," says Price. "Just combine a versatile can of refried beans in a bowl with some salsa, cilantro and scallions and there you have it."

Also See: Easy, Do-It-Yourself Kitchen Upgrades

Active time: 5 minutes
Per serving: 210 calories; 6 g fat; 32 g carbohydrate; 7 g protein; 5 g fiber;

Chile-Lime Tortilla Chips

- 12 6-inch corn tortillas
- Canola oil cooking spray
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt

If you've got the time, you can also make your own tortilla chips, saving 5 grams of fat over their pre-packed counterparts. Just take some tortillas, cut them into quarters and spray with some cooking spray. Sprinkle lime, chili powder and salt over them and bake at 375°F 15-20 minutes.

Active time: 30 minutes
Makes: Six servings of 8 chips each.
Per serving: 142 calories; 2 g fat; 29 g carbohydrate; 2 g protein; 2 g fiber

Spiced Chickpeas

- 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt

When roasted in a hot oven, chickpeas become super crunchy, just like nuts but they're a low-fat substitute. Plus, dried chickpeas are incredibly economical.

Jazz them up with some Middle Eastern spices, preheat your oven to 450°F and put your rack on the upper third level. Blot your chickpeas dry and toss with oil, cumin, marjoram, allspice and salt. Spread on a baking sheet for about 25-30 minutes, until brown and crunchy.

Active time: 5 minutes | Total: 1 hour
Makes: Four 1/4 cup servings
103 calories; 5 g fat ;14 g carbohydrate; 4 g protein; 5 g fiber

Also see: Can You Afford That Purchase?

Tweet me your favorite homemade snack recipes @Farnoosh and use the hashtag #finfit

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