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The Smart Way to Snack

Vanessa Hathaway
Founder, Your Custom Beauty

Take the guesswork out of smart snacking with this mix-and-match food matrix — tasty ideas await!

Those who abide by the antiquated idea that you should not snack between meals likely assume that those additional calories come from sugary, fat-laden or processed nutrition bombs, but there’s definitely a smart way to snack. In fact, a well-timed and well-chosen snack can curb appetite, build muscle, boost energy and deliver necessary nutrients, and it can be a key player in fortifying a healthy diet and building a bikini-ready body.

Deciding what constitutes a wholesome snack can be frustrating, however, so to make life a little easier, we’ve designed this mix-and-match snack generator. Simply choose one item from each macronutrient category — Proteins (P), Carbs (C) and Fats (F), and maybe a Flavor Booster for good measure — and behold, the nutritious and delicious combos appear.

.. Oxygen Magazine

You also can tailor-make a snack to fit your particular need. For instance, if your focus is on building muscle, choose two items from the protein column, one from the fat column and skip the carbs. Check out the Smart Snacking Suggestions chart for other combinations that deliver the perfect nutritious snack every time.

.. Oxygen Magazine

Starter Snacks

Here are a few ideas to get the ball rolling. Use these as a template to create a winning mix of sweet and savory nibbles that will satisfy and fuel you as soon as hunger strikes, all clocking in at 250 calories or less.

Preworkout Energizer

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 rice cake
  • 2 tbsp hummus
  • 1 tbsp sunflower seeds
  • 4 apple slices

DIRECTIONS

Spread hummus on rice cake and sprinkle on sunflower seeds.

Postworkout Muscle Builder

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 rye Wasa cracker
  • 2 tbsp guacamole
  • 1 slice roasted red pepper
  • 1 sliced hard-boiled egg

DIRECTIONS

Spread guacamole on cracker and top with red pepper and egg slices.

.. Oxygen Magazine

Afternoon Hold-Me-Over

INGREDIENTS

  • ¾ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup blueberries
  • 2 tbsp muesli
  • 1 tbsp pistachios or walnuts

DIRECTIONS

Place yogurt in bowl and top with blueberries, muesli and nuts.

Midmorning Hunger Tamer

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 celery stick
  • 1 tbsp almond butter
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp dried cherries

DIRECTIONS

Slice celery stick into thirds and mix almond butter with cinnamon. Fill celery pieces with almond butter and top with dried cherries.

Outdoor Adventure Trail Mix

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tbsp roasted chickpeas
  • ½ oz jerky
  • 2 tbsp sliced dried apricots
  • 2 tbsp almonds

DIRECTIONS

Combine all ingredients in small zip-close bag.

Anytime Craving Killer

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ banana
  • 2 tsp cashew butter
  • 2 tsp cacao nibs

DIRECTIONS

Slice banana into ½-inch chunks, slather on cashew butter and sprinkle on cacao nibs.

Savory Sunday Salmon Snack

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 (½-inch) slices cucumber
  • 1 oz sliced smoked salmon
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar

DIRECTIONS

Place salmon on cucumber slices and top with sesame seeds and a drizzle of rice vinegar.

Recovery Day Muscle Mender

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/3 cup halved frozen grapes
  • 1 tbsp hemp seeds
  • ¼ tsp vanilla

DIRECTIONS

Place ricotta in bowl and stir in vanilla. Top with frozen grapes and hemp seeds.

Perfect Picnic Snack

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/3 cup cherry tomatoes
  • ¼ cup mozzarella pearls
  • 2 chopped deli turkey breast slices
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar

DIRECTIONS

Thread tomatoes, mozzarella and turkey on bamboo skewers or toothpicks and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

Nighty-Night Nibble

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ cup cottage cheese
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 tsp cocoa powder
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon

DIRECTIONS

In bowl, stir together cottage cheese, cocoa powder and cinnamon. Top with strawberries. 

Plant Power Snack

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ cup frozen edamame
  • ¼ tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/8 tsp flaky salt
  • ½ cup baby carrots

DIRECTIONS

Prepare edamame according to package directions, then toss with paprika and salt. Serve alongside baby carrots.

Recharger Shake

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ cup plain kefir
  • 1 scoop protein powder
  • ½ cup frozen strawberries
  • ½ tsp cinnamon

DIRECTIONS

Blend together with ½ cup water until smooth.

Snacking Musts

Use these eight tips to make your snacks work harder for you.

Snack Sensibly

For many, snacking has morphed into an around-the-clock munchfest, a near-constant calorie flood that spirals into fat gain. But in reality, no more than 25 percent of your daily calories should hail from between-meal nibbles. To keep calorie intake in check, cap your snack frequency to once or twice a day if you’re moderately active and two to three times if you’re training intensely.

Munch Mindfully

Too many people snack on autopilot, eating when they are “scheduled” to do so, which often leads to overeating. Snacking should be a mindful endeavor and should take place only when you’re experiencing definite signs of hunger such as a rumbling stomach or brain fog.

Go All Natural

Sodium stearoyl lactylate is delicious, said nobody ever. Less is more when it comes to ingredients. Stick to snacks that contain only recognizable items to stay on track.

Divide and Conquer

It’s easy to go overboard on denser and higher-calorie snack items like nuts, yogurt and dried fruit. Set boundaries by pre-portioning these beforehand and avoid eating your way to calorie overload.

Power Up the Protein

Higher-protein snacks have greater staying power for fewer calories and give you a greater chance to build metabolic muscle tissue. Greek yogurt, hard-boiled eggs and string cheeses are your snacking saviors.

Veg Out

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only one in 10 Americans are eating the recommended 2 to 3 cups of vegetables each day. To better nail your daily quota, incorporate veggies into your snack routine, such as dunking baby carrots or red pepper slices into hummus.

Sweet Nothings

Packaged snack foods are a big source of added sugar that can inflate your waistline. If you must go the packaged route, choose options that do not list sugar or other sweeteners predominately in their ingredient lists, and go for snacks like fruit that are only naturally sweet.

Avoid Salt

Packaged foods also deliver a glut of sodium, causing bloating and dehydration. Beat the bloat by designing or buying snacks with no more than 400 milligrams of sodium per serving.

.. Oxygen Magazine

Written by Matthew Kadey for Oxygen Magazine and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Oxygen Magazine

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