Snacks! (Or Finding Healthier Alternatives)
By Terry Passano. RDN, FMN, University Dietitian
Your stomach growls; your mind wanders; you need a break and a snack. Beyond the basic options of popcorn or chips, nuts, fruit and nut butter, and cheese and crackers, here are a few recipes to add variety and punch up the nutrition of your snack routine.
Bring on the bean! Black bean salsa and tortilla chips, avocado hummus, and roasted chickpeas or soybeans are tasty, salty treats that fill you up, nourish your body and brain, and taste great!
Beans are protein-, fiber- and bioactive-rich nutrient powerhouses. They are inexpensive, sit comfortably on our pantry shelf in a can or bag, and provide beneficial nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They are naturally low in salt and fat and contain no cholesterol.
They are versatile in the kitchen in a starring or supportive role. Here are some easy snacks made with the nutritious bean.
Black Bean Salsa
This version of black bean salsa looks good. My version – a can of black beans drained and mixed with your favorite salsa – is super simple. I love that those two ingredients can sit in my pantry just waiting for me.
Like the other beans, these are high in fiber and protein and contain key vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, potassium, calcium, B vitamins and phytonutrients.
Chickpeas are an inexpensive, versatile, tasty nutrition bomb that can start a delicious snack or meal. They provide all of the essential building blocks for the protein that we need. Their phytonutrients act as antioxidants to support our health. These are great as a snack or salad topper.
Hummus is very easy to make with just a few ingredients and a blender or food processor. It contains the nutritious chickpea as well as the super sesame seed as tahini. These two ingredients provide protein, healthy fat and essential vitamins and minerals. Avocado brings more healthy fats and flavor to make this dish a winner.
Edamame is a young soybean. They are healthy, easy to eat and make a delicious snack or addition to a dish. Soybeans are a good source of protein and contain phytonutrients that act as antioxidants and support detoxification. They give us essential nutrients, including folate and magnesium. Roasted edamame can be added to your salad or eaten alone as a snack.