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Healthier Snacks to Satisfy Junk Food Cravings

Healthier Snacks to Satisfy Junk Food Cravings

What do you do when you’re craving junk food that’s not great for your health or your waistline? You have three choices. You can dive right in and not worry about the consequences. You can eat the less-than-good-for-you food but do so mindfully, having just a small portion. Or you can have an arsenal of better-for-you snack options ready to satisfy your cravings without the guilt.

There are plenty of healthy foods to choose as snacks. Some will satisfy your cravings, while others may not do the trick. Here are four options that meet the need when you want something crunchy, chewy or creamy – and whether you prefer food that’s salty, savory or sweet. They not only pack in more nutrition than their junk food alternatives, but they’ll leave you feeling satisfied and energized.

Nuts. Thanks to their pleasing combo of saltiness and crunch, nuts calm your cravings for other salty snacks. Their nutrition profile also reigns supreme over chips, pretzels and crackers because they deliver plant-based protein and fiber for appetite control. Their fat content leaves you satisfied and they contain unsaturated fats that are linked to a healthy heart. Choose a lightly salted variety to avoid going overboard on sodium. Almonds and pistachios are higher in potassium than many other nuts, which can reduce the effects of sodium and naturally regulate blood pressure.

Dried Fruit. Skip the candy and choose chewy, sweet dried fruit when you need a sugar fix. Raisins, dates, prunes and apricots all contain no added sugar, yet deliver an intense sweetness from their natural sugar content. They also contain fiber to fill you up and keep blood sugar levels steadier. Since dried fruit loses water and volume during the drying process, the serving size is smaller than if the fruit is eaten fresh so watch portions. Enjoy dried fruit on its own or pair with whole-grain cereal, nuts and seeds to make a snack mix.

Roasted Chickpeas. When seasoned and roasted, chickpeas are transformed into the perfect food for a crunchy snack lover. A serving also supplies 5 grams of plant-based protein and fiber so you’ll remain satisfied longer after eating them than other crunchy snacks. Look for packaged varieties in various flavors or make them yourself in just four steps:

  1. Rinse and drain a can of chickpeas; pat thoroughly with a paper towel to dry.
  2. Lightly toss with olive oil and your favorite dried herbs, spices or seasoning blends and arrange in a single layer on a large baking sheet.
  3. Bake 35-40 minutes at 400°F, stirring and shaking pan midway through baking, until lightly browned and crunchy.
  4. Cool and enjoy. Store in a sealed container and eat within a few days for the best texture and flavor.

Hummus. When you’re craving something creamy, hummus fits the bill. And with so many flavors available, you’re sure to find something to satisfy. Pair this smooth and savory bean-based dip with raw veggies and whole-grain crackers for a creamy and crunchy treat all in one bite. In the mood for something sweet? You can now find dessert-inspired flavors of hummus like brownie batter, vanilla bean and cookie dough. Pair these with fresh berries, apple slices or graham crackers.

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