Whether you’re giving the Whole30 diet a whirl or have committed to a Paleo lifestyle where you eat primarily foods presumed to be available to paleolithic humans (meat, fish, eggs, nuts, fruits, vegetables, etc), it can take a little brainstorming at first to come up with alternatives to some of your old go-to snacks. Grains, legumes, refined sugar, and processed vegetable oils may be off-limits, but these restrictions are actually a great opportunity to get creative. Aim for 150-200 calories and prioritize protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Here are 7 snacks will keep you going between meals.
The complex carbs in fruit help keep your energy up. You’ll get filling fiber plus lots of key vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Pair with a serving of nuts or your favorite nut or seed butter. Frozen fruit can be just as good an option as fresh, especially if you want to stick to seasonal varieties. A little dried fruit now and then can be fine, but just keep in mind that they’re generally more calorie-dense than fresh so they may be better enjoyed as a garnish.
Raw, roasted, steamed—it’s hard to go wrong. Slice up some of your favorite raw veggies and dip into salsa or guacamole or spread some nut butter on celery sticks. You can also roast your favorites veggies in coconut oil and enjoy warm or cold as a delicious snack. A few of my favorites are beets, broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower.
Sweet potato is a great example of a “good carb” to keep on the menu because it provides a hefty dose of fiber and antioxidants like vitamins A, C, and beta-carotene to boot. Roasted sweet potato is delicious warm or cold. You can also steam sweet potatoes in the microwave. When you’re craving something creamy and a little sweet, top with a teaspoon of almond butter or tahini (sesame seed paste) and eat with a spoon.
Packed with fiber, nuts and seeds are also rich in healthy fats and provide some protein. They’re delicious on their own (a serving is about 1/4 cup) or tossed into homemade trail mix with a little dried fruit, but you can also enjoy nut or seed butter with fruit, sliced veggies, or roasted sweet potato wedges. Pulse medjool dates with your favorite nuts or seeds in a food processor until a dough forms. Roll the dough into little balls for an on-the-go alternative to packaged snack bars.
Eggs are a rich source of protein and satisfying fat. They also also offer instant portion control with 70 calories apiece. If you want to keep an eye on saturated fat intake, stick to one whole egg and just eat the whites of another one or two.
The heart-healthy fiber and monounsaturated fat in avocado make this fruit a nourishing, satisfying snack option. Because avocado is a calorie-dense food, keep an eye on portions. Half an avocado will provide 150 calories and plus 5 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein. If desired, top with a teaspoon of hemp hearts or chia seeds and a squirt of lemon or lime juice.
Shrimp provides lots of lean protein. A 3-ounce serving provides 18 grams for just 85 calories and 1 gram of fat . Enjoy on their own or try with salsa and avocado.
Jessica Cording, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian, health coach, and writer with a passion for helping others experience a happier, calmer life and a balanced relationship with food. For those in need of some healthy-eating inspiration, Jess created five day's worth of delicious make-ahead lunches to make it even easier to eat well on a busy day. For more information on Jess, check out her website and follow her on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.