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15 Healthy Snacks You Should Always Have At Home

15 Healthy Snacks You Should Always Have At Home

Healthy snacks can be hard to find, especially when you come home from work after a long day and just feel like eating junk food for a quick fix. But have no fear! There are more and more healthy snack options today than ever before. This article will shed light on some new products and ideas to help beat those horrible cravings. And instead of leaving you with a sugar crash, you will feel clean and energized.

1. Coconut Chips

Yep, coconut is now in a “chip” form! Why try these? Coconut chips are made from a nutrient-dense superfood – coconut – and are naturally full of flavor! Some brands take fresh slices of young coconut and roast them until they have this perfect crunch. Watch out for brands that have too many ingredients, though. My favorite are the kinds that include just three things: coconut, cane sugar, and salt! I would describe coconut chips as not too sweet, slightly savory, creamy and refreshing; they are super tasty. Lastly, a quarter of a cup contains about 4% of the average recommended daily iron intake.

Coconut has a high content of saturated fats. Saturated fats are very important for our health and even our brain function. In fact, saturated fat composes 50% of our cellular membranes and plays a necessary role in strengthening our cell walls and protecting the inside of each cell.

If the coconut chips you snack on were prepared with virgin coconut oil, they would be considered even more healthy for you. Virgin coconut oil is a medium-chain saturated fat, and because of this can actually speed up weight loss, lower cholesterol, and reduce your risk of a heart attack.

coconut chips

    2. Walnuts

    Walnuts are something I have recently discovered and are super good for your heart. You really only need a quarter to a half cup to start feeling full. Not only are they high in omega-3s, but new research has suggested that the omega-3 ALA may help heart arrhythmias, and a 2006 Spanish study suggested that walnuts were as effective as olive oil at reducing inflammation and oxidation in the arteries after eating a fatty meal.

    walnuts

      3. Ginger Chews

      Ginger has long been thought of as a powerhouse for your body. Not only will it fire up your digestive juices, improve the absorption of essential nutrients in the body, and reduce nausea, but it can even help reduce joint pain with its anti-inflammatory properties. Confused about which ginger snack to try? Try starting with mango-flavored ginger – it’s decadent.

      Ginger may also help increase insulin sensitivity in patients with type 2 diabetes, according to the findings of a recent study conducted by researchers from the Tabriz University of Medical Sciences in Iran and published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition.

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      ginger chews

        4. Dried Mangoes

        Dried mangoes have limited calories and are super tasty! Mangoes are also rich in polyphenols. Mango polyphenols, like other polyphenolic compounds, work mainly as antioxidants, a property that enables them to protect human cells against damage due to oxidative stress leading to lipid peroxidation, DNA damage, and many degenerative diseases. Of the many polyphenol antioxidants in the mango, the most studied and popular one is called mangiferin. Mangiferin is a special polyphenol in the mango that continues to attract much attention because of its potential to combat degenerative diseases, like heart diseases and cancer.

        Just make sure to buy your mangoes without sulphites. Sulphites are regulated food additives that are used as preservatives to maintain food color and prolong shelf life, prevent the growth of micro-organisms, and to maintain the potency of certain medications. Many people who consume sulphite products experience unpleasant side effects (which is why the government is making a law that states all products with sulphites have to be labeled: “May contain sulphites”). For example, do you ever get wheezy and experience asthma-like symptoms when you eat dried fruit? You may not even realize this but it could be the sulphite preservative!

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          5. Apple with Almond Butter

          Almond butter is very rich and creamy, just like peanut butter, and tastes amazing with apples. The sweetness of apples is quite complementary to the nutty flavor of almond butter. Also, with this snack you will be getting some protein and fiber. In fact, did you know that almond butter has more fiber than peanut butter? Pretty great! Lastly, almond butter has a low glycemic index, meaning it will help to keep your blood sugar levels stable and keep you feeling full longer. This is crucial because regular blood sugar spikes and drops slow down your metabolism.

          6. Veggie Sticks

          Heard of these before? Basically, they are vegetable chips. These are to die for and are definitely one of my new favorite snacks! It’s also amazing how many nutrients are shoved into these little chips. Indeed, Veggie Stix are an excellent source of vitamins A, C, D, and B6, and a good source of vitamins E and K. If you have problems with digestion, you may want to consider upping your vitamin B6 intake as it is involved in more than 100 enzyme reactions associated with your metabolism. Vitamin B6 is also involved in brain development during pregnancy and infancy, as well as immune function.

          Veggie Stix are also made with all natural ingredients: potatoes, tomatoes and spinach, pure sea salt and non-hydrogenated oils. That means 0 grams of trans fat and the chips have 30% less overall fat than regular chips! Wahoo!

          veggie

            7. Chocolate-covered Roasted Inchi Seeds

            Heard of Inchi seeds? You have now! What’s so special about these power seeds is that they have 17 more omega-3s per ounce than wild sockeye salmon – that’s insane! Indeed, they are one of the richest plant-based sources of omega-3 on the planet.

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            inchi seeds

              So, how can these Amazonian seeds have such a high antioxidant level? It’s all in the roasting process. Inchi seeds are roasted at a low temperature to preserve their high omega-3 content. Then the unmatched combination of taste and nutrition – that’s also gluten-free and packed with complete protein – makes them the perfect healthy indulgence. Lastly, you can often find this seed in many delicious flavors; my favorite are those covered in chocolate.

              8. Sliced Tomatoes Sprinkled With Feta and Olive Oil

              This snack will definitely make your taste buds happy. If you don’t like feta or olive oil, you can always sprinkle another type of cheese on top, or a light salad dressing.

              Professor Teruo Kawada and his team of researchers at the Laboratory of Molecular Function of Food in Kyoto have found a substance in tomatoes called 13-oxo-ODA, which is a special type of unsaturated fatty acid. This chemical was found to help decrease the amount of neutral fat in your body and prevent metabolic syndrome from setting in.

              tomatoes with feta

                9. Dark Chocolate (90% Cocoa)

                I know, I know, most of you think dark chocolate is gross, but I have discovered a way to mask the bitter flavor while still getting all the health benefits: buy a brand that has coconut flakes mixed in!

                Dark chocolate is really good for your health because it has a low glycemic index, lots of antioxidants (antioxidants fight free radicals and damaged cells, preventing cancer), and can even improve your mood. Dark chocolate contains several chemical compounds that have a positive effect on your mood and cognitive health. According to Natural Highs, a book on supplements and nutrition, this is because chocolate contains phenylethylamine (PEA), the same chemical your brain creates when you feel like you’re falling in love. PEA encourages your brain to release endorphins, so eating dark chocolate will make you feel happier.

                Dark chocolate also contains caffeine, a mild stimulant. However, dark chocolate contains much less caffeine than coffee. A 1.5 ounce bar of dark chocolate contains 27 mg of caffeine, compared to the 200 mg found in an eight ounce cup of coffee.

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                coconut flakes

                  10. Hummus Dip with Vegetables

                  If you are unsure what hummus is, it can contain many different ingredients but the base is always chickpeas and tahini, a sesame seed paste. Chickpeas are nutritious because they do not contain any cholesterol or saturated fat, and are rich in protein. Furthermore, they are also known to be quite effective in preventing build up of cholesterol in your blood vessels. Apart from that, chickpeas also help to maintain the correct blood sugar levels. By preventing that blood sugar spike, you will actually feel full longer! All you need is some vegetables to dip in and voilà – a filling, healthy snack to help you get through the day!

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                    11. Celery and Peanut Butter

                    Celery is an undervalued vegetable. It is loaded with nutrients and contains almost no calories – one large stalk has maybe 10 calories. Celery is great because it can lower your blood pressure, 100g contains about 8% of your RDI of vitamin A (great for your eye health), it aids in digestion because it’s high in insoluble fiber, and it even lowers your LDL (bad cholesterol). One Chicago University research study showed that just two stalks of celery a day can reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) by up to 7 points.

                    healthy snack

                      12. Zucchini Pizza Bites

                      I know, I know, when you hear the word “pizza” the last thing on your mind is health. However, there is nothing wrong with sprinkling some cheese and tomato sauce over zucchini and baking bite-size zucchini pieces for 30 minutes. Cheese is high in calcium, and most people don’t realize that zucchini is high in vitamin C, which protects your cells from free radicals (damaged cells that can lead to oxidative stress in the body – and possibly cancer).

                      Zucchini is also high in two phytonutrients, lutein and zeaxanthin, which belong to the carotenoid family, the same nutrient family that includes beta-carotene, a source of vitamin A. In fact, the American Optometric Association notes that intakes of at least 6 milligrams per day can reduce your risk for age-related macular degeneration, an eye disease that causes blindness. A cup of chopped zucchini provides 2.6 milligrams of lutein and zeaxanthin, or 43% of this intake goal.

                      zucchini pizza

                        13. Strawberries Dipped In Yogurt

                        Just dip some strawberries in yogurt, then put them in the freezer for 20 minutes and voilà! Easiest snack ever! If you want to go even more healthy, try using Greek yogurt. Not only does Greek yogurt have half the sodium of regular yogurt, but it also has more protein – about 20 grams of protein per serving, whereas regular yogurt provides around 11–13 grams. Greek yogurt’s high protein content makes it a favorite among people trying to manage their weight as it helps ward off hunger.

                        strawberries

                          14. Pickles In a Blanket

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                            If you’re like me and love pickles, why not try “pickles in a blanket”? Pickles are a great snack as they are low in both fat content and calories – after all they are just pickled cucumbers, and cucumbers are loaded with goodness. The typical dill pickle wedge contains less than one gram of fat and four calories. While the pickle won’t knock your socks off in regards to calories or fat content, it will pack a punch with its vitamin K content. One pickle slice contains as much as 20% of your daily vitamin K requirement, which is known to prevent blood clots after injuries. Pickles also contain sodium, fiber, potassium, and vitamin C. Note, however, that the odd brand is high in sodium, so don’t consume too many.

                            If you aren’t sure how to eat pickles in a blanket, why not try wrapping them in salami or turkey with a bit of cheese? Yum.

                            15. Edamame Sprinkled With Sea Salt

                            In case you don’t know, edamame is the Japanese word for sweet, green soybeans. They are harvested at the point when the beans are well developed but still soft and green. In North America, they are most often served hot with sprinkled salt; however, in Japan they are often chilled before serving.

                            Edamame make such a great snack and are super tasty! Not only do they contain both protein and essential trace minerals, but according to an article published in the Critical Reviews in Food and Nutrition, soy isoflavones (plant-based chemical similar to estrogen) play a role in your gut microflora and thus digestion. Furthermore, phytoestrogens help lower cholesterol, according to MedlinePlus, and research published in the March 2012 issue of Menopause indicates that they reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes.

                            edamame

                              So there you have it: 15 fantastic healthy snacks you should always have at home. Snacking should be fun and never boring. Hopefully these snack options make you realize how simple and tasty eating healthy really can be.

                              Featured photo credit: 15 Healthy Snacks You Should Always Have At Home via eco-savy.com

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                              How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

                              How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

                              Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

                              Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality.

                              I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

                              You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

                              Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

                              When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

                              I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

                              Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

                              Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

                              Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

                              1. The Inner Critic

                              This is your constant abuser. He is often a conglomeration of:

                              • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
                              • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
                              • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
                              • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

                              He is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

                              Why else would he abuse you? And since “he” is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

                              2. The Worrier

                              This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

                              He is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it.

                              Occasionally, he is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

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                              3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

                              He is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

                              He can be set off by words or feelings. He can even be set off by sounds and smells.

                              He has no real motivation; he has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

                              4. The Sleep Depriver

                              This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

                              His motivation can be:

                              • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
                              • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
                              • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
                              • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

                              How can you control these squatters?

                              How to Master Your Mind

                              You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

                              Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

                              There are two ways to control your thoughts:

                              • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
                              • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

                              This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

                              The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

                              Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

                              For the Inner Critic

                              When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

                              You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

                              For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

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                              You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

                              “Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

                              If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

                              • He riles up the Worrier.
                              • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
                              • He is often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
                              • He is a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
                              • He is the destroyer of self-esteem. He convinces you that you’re not worthy. He’s a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get him out!

                              Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

                              Replace him with your new best friend who supports, encourages, and enhances your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

                              For the Worrier

                              Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

                              Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

                              You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

                              • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
                              • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
                              • Muscles tense

                              Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

                              If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

                              Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

                              “Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

                              Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

                              If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

                              Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

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                              Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

                              For example:

                              If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

                              “I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

                              Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

                              “Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

                              Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

                              For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

                              Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

                              The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

                              • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
                              • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
                              • Muscles tension

                              I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

                              Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

                              Breathe in through your nose:

                              • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
                              • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
                              • Focus on your belly rising.

                              Breathe out through your nose:

                              • Feel your lungs emptying.
                              • Focus on your belly falling.
                              • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

                              Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

                              Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

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                              One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

                              Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

                              For the Sleep Depriver

                              (He’s made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

                              I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

                              Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

                              1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
                              2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

                              When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

                              From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

                              For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

                              If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

                              You can also use this technique any time you want to:

                              • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
                              • Shut down your thinking.
                              • Calm your feelings.
                              • Simply focus on the present moment. 

                              Becoming the Master of Your Mind

                              Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

                              You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

                              Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

                              Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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