What's healthier than wheat thins?
Crackers are the new chips. I know we hear these types of over-the-top declarations every now and then, but I'm sticking by this one. These days, it's hard to tell the cracker aisle from the chip aisle. It used to look so safe. A few flavors of Triscuits, a box of Ritz and some Melba toast. But things have changed. Those boxes have begun to leap at us from the shelf with dazzling packages screaming language of smoked jalapeno or aged Canadian cheddar (do I really like Canadian cheddar more? Should I find out?). The problem is that we are being lulled into a sensation of "cracker complacency."
I'm not here to point fingers. But recently, I became mildly addicted to the new onslaught of flavored Wheat Thins. These things are incredible, and their name worked so well: "wheat" and "thins." My mind accepted that I was snacking healthily. But upon further analysis, one thing became clear. The Wheat Thin may not be much safer than some other treats.
Heartbreaking, but worth a look. After this list, the cracker aisle will never seem the same again.
Klondike Bar: 6.2 grams protein
Klondike bars are a small and satisfying treat that don't have nearly as many calories as a fast food milkshake, while also offering a small amount of protein as a consolation prize. Enjoy -- just not every day.
Gummy Bears: 0g fat, low sodium, 0 cholesterol
After a workout, your muscles are craving glucose. Enter: Gummy Bears. This classic, zero-fat, zero-cholesterol candy has the fast-acting glucose you need without any of the extra cost and/or chemicals of a post-workout drink. A handful or two after your workout is perfect. Just make sure it's within an hour of exercising.
Berry Fruit Roll-Ups with Vitamin C
Berry Fruit Roll-up w/ Vitamin C: 33mg Vitamin C
The classic kids' snack can be a decent post-workout choice with its quick-digesting sugars and a nice little blast of vitamin C.
Dunkin' Donuts Honey Bran Muffin
Dunkin' Donuts Honey Bran Muffin: 4g fiber, 7g protein
There are definitely some healthy options at Dunkin' Donuts, but if you're at one of their airport kiosks and can only choose between the last bunch of muffins and doughnuts, the Honey Bran Muffin is there for you. Yes, lots of sugar, but 4g of fiber and a decent amount of protein make this your choice.
Snickers bar: 4g protein
At this point, most energy bars or performance bars are just glorified candy bars anyway, so if you're in a pinch, you might as well just grab a Snickers. They taste great, will fill you up and they do have 4g of protein. Also, they deserve points for getting Joe Pesci back on your TV screen.
Pork Rinds: 8g Protein, 0 trans fats
Yes, pork rinds. The truck stop favorite has 8g of protein, 0 trans fats and is surprisingly low in calories. If you can stomach the taste (and the sodium), you could do much worse at your 7-11.
Taco Bell Chicken Chalupa
Taco Bell Chicken Chalupa: 17g protein, small amount of Calcium
You're never going to head to Taco Bell for a health food kick, but if you're there, and you don't want to order one of their supposedly healthy offerings, the Chicken Chalupa will help you load up on protein. If you hold off on the sour cream and cheese, the calorie count won't kill you either.
Chick-fil-A Strawberry Milkshake
Chick-Fil-A Strawberry Milkshake: 16g protein, 30% RDA vitamin C, 60% RDA calcium, 20% RDA vitamin A
When you're trying to pack on muscle, sometimes you just need to down some calories. This shake from Chik-Fil-A has the mass-gaining calories you need, while also offering up some vitamin C, calcium and vitamin A. Hey, it's a milkshake -- you can't ask for much more.
Dark Chocolate-Covered Almonds
Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds: Protein, Vitamin E, antioxidants
These little airport favorites could almost be considered truly good for you. The antioxidants in high-quality dark chocolate are extremely healthy and the vitamin E and protein in the almonds are no-brainers for any smart eater. Combine the two and you have sneaky-healthy junk food.
Dairy Queen Banana Split
Dairy Queen Banana Split: 8g protein, potassium, 3g fiber
True, much of the health benefits here come from the banana, but that's why this sundae is chosen over the chocolate fudge brownie sundae. Ice cream provides a little protein, while the banana provides fiber and potassium.
McDonald's McChicken Sandwich
McDonald's McChicken Sandwich: 17g protein, 3g fiber, 24% RDA iron
The humble McDonald's McChicken sandwich may give you the most protein for your dollar of anything on the menu. Seventeen grams of protein, a little iron and 3g of fiber make this Dollar Menu item a much better option than the double cheeseburger.
Burger King Sweet Potato Fries
Burger King Sweet Potato Fries: 4g fiber, 2g protein, 0 trans fats
Somehow, Burger King's sweet potato fries don't seem to hold on to most of the vitamin A in actual sweet potatoes, but they do have 4g of fiber and 2g of protein, making them a half-decent choice to snack on if you want a better option than onion rings.
Bagel Bites - Sausage & Pepperoni: 8g protein, 2g fiber, 0 trans fats, only 3g sugar
These classic after-school snacks have a bad rap as a pseudo-food, but in truth they're low in sugar, low in trans fats (0) and have 8g of protein and 2g of fiber. All in all, a better option than you probably thought.
Fritos Bean DipFritos Bean Dip: low calorie, low fat, little bit of fiber
Bean dip is definitely less popular than queso or sour cream or guacamole as a dip for your chip, but you shouldn't ignore it anymore. It's filling, doesn't have many calories, has very little fat and has a small amount of fiber. It's not a cup of quinoa, but it blows Cheez Whiz out of the water.