Whether you want snacks to stave off hunger at work, nibbles for movie night, if you’re a compulsive grazer or you just like to try new things, there are many healthy and easy options available. Although snacking can be harmful, it is also perfectly normal and can have its benefits. It’s all about snacking on the right stuff.
If its simply a case of hunger between meals, the best options are light but temporarily filling foods which won’t spoil your appetite or raise your body weight over time. Home made dips like spicy hummus, edamame and roasted garlic or butter bean dip are pretty good since they contain healthy fats and protein. Just add a handful of carrot or celery batons for a really gratifying bite.
Of the many classic snacks corrupted by consumer marketing, popcorn may be the most unfortunate case. When not coated in sugar and fat it’s actually rather good for you, and easy to make at home. Just cook in a pan on a medium heat with a little coconut or rapeseed oil, cover with a lid and leave them to pop (shaking every now and then). Once the popping stops, turn off the heat and give them a minute or two before lifting the lid and seasoning with salt and spices (paprika, chilli, ginger or turmeric). If you want sweet popcorn, go for cinnamon and cacao powder.
Crisps, despite their extreme popularity, are generally bad news for the human body, primarily due to salt and trans fats. However, making your own mitigates these factors and is also straightforward, using either a dehydrator or an oven set to 100C. Kale crisps are trendy at the moment, but we also recommend a cruciferous alternative; Brussels sprout crisps! If you’re not a fan, chances are you’ve been subjected to over-boiled, sulphurous specimens. Individual leaves, marinated in soy sauce, oil and spices then baked until crispy, are different matter entirely. Pears and apples also make deliciously sweet crisps, particularly when sprinkled with cinnamon. If you prefer spuds, try using sweet potatoes and drizzle with a little dark chocolate and a sprinkling of salt; an unusual but heavenly combination.
For a healthy and long-lasting snack mix, combine cooked chickpeas or other beans with soy sauce, spices, herbs and a little oil, spread on a baking tray and roast on 160C until crispy. You can also make a sweet version using cinnamon or vanilla and combining with dried fruits after cooking.
If sweet snacks are your thing, fruit leathers are great way to satisfy a sweet tooth without involving loads of added sugar. It also uses up leftover apples, berries and other fruit. Just blend with spices and flavourings, then spread thinly on a baking sheet and dehydrate or bake in a low oven until set.
Sometimes snacking is about indulgence. In such instances you can keep it reasonably healthy by spooning melted dark chocolate onto baking paper and decorating with dried fruits, nuts and seeds. You can also use raw chocolate, completely vegan chocolate or a mix. Dried flowers add a wonderful aroma, nuts add a satisfying crunch and dried fruit, such as cranberries, add a lovely acidity. You can even get experimenting with herbs and spice: rosemary, chilli or ginger.