Picture this: You’re working hard, deep in thought, focused on your ever-growing to-do list. Suddenly, hunger strikes. Mindlessly, you reach down and open your bottom desk drawer. As you glance down to choose a savory treat, you are suddenly aware of just how much sugar and salt is staring back at you. Just how many calories are those candy bars and potato chips adding to your waistline?
Never fear, TotalWellness is here. We’ve done a bit of digging to find some healthy snack ideas that you can keep in that desk drawer. Here’s what we’ve come up with:
Nuts and seeds: Nuts and seeds are full of nutrients and health benefits. Focus on getting lightly salted or unsalted nuts, and try to avoid the heavily sweetened kinds. Keep an eye on calories, as nuts especially can sometimes pack a punch. Try measuring some out into a snack size bag, instead of keeping the whole can at your desk. You can also mix in a few seeds, dark chocolate chips, and dried fruit for a tasty and healthy trail mix.
Dark chocolate: Yea, you caught that, didn’t you? If your craving for sweets is just too strong, it can be far too tempting to grab that candy bar again. Instead, try a small amount of dark chocolate, which can provide antioxidants and mood boosting nutrients, with a lot less sugar. Keep your daily intake to 4 ounces or less, and you’ll be able to indulge without guilt.
Fresh fruit and veggies: Many fresh fruits don’t need to be refrigerated, especially if you eat them shortly after purchasing them. Try apples and bananas, oranges and tangerines, grapes, cherries, or kiwi. Fresh fruit gives your body antioxidants, fiber and natural energy. Fresh veggies can be kept in your drawer too, like carrots and celery, as long as you eat them before lunch.
Dried fruit: Be cautious with dried fruits, as they can contain a concentrated amount of sugar and calories. Your best bet with these is to mix them with nuts and seeds for protein. Protein helps stabilize blood sugar so you’re less likely to get that sugar crash later on.
Jerky: Beef and turkey jerky could make a nice, spicy snack, especially if you watch the sodium content. Turkey jerky typically has a lower fat and sodium content than regular beef jerky.
Popcorn: Popcorn is a good, gluten free snack, but you will need to watch the butter and salt. Aim for lightly salted, air popped corn. If you like sweet popcorn, try adding cinnamon or a small amount of honey for a tasty twist with a little less sugar than your typical caramel corn. You can also mix it with dried fruits and nuts or seeds. Again, portion control is key, so measure some out into pre-portioned amounts.
Rice cakes: Yes, we know rice cakes have a bad rep for being a little on the boring side, but they don’t have to be. Try topping your rice cakes with hummus, peanut butter, or fresh fruit. How about a rice cake peanut butter and banana open-faced sandwich? You could even use applesauce or yogurt! There are also some fun new flavors you can try, like apple cinnamon and white cheddar.
Cereals: A little dry cereal in a snack bag may seem like something you might give your four year old, but a number of cereals are full of fiber, protein and the healthy carbs that give your brain power a boost. Measure out the correct serving amounts into individual snack bags, and watch out for extra sugars and high calorie cereals.
Homemade granola or protein bars: Store-bought bars are often loaded with sugar and calories, sometimes outweighing the more beneficial fiber and protein. Try making some at home, experimenting with different nut butters, grains such as quinoa and oats, dried fruits, nuts, seeds, and other healthy goodies. In fact, most of the ideas here can be combined with fantastic results! Don’t be afraid to get creative (and yes, we see you eyeing the dark chocolate again).
Spreads: Most hummus can be kept at room temperature, and can be mixed with different treats like black olives, red peppers, and garlic. Celery sticks, crackers, and even your rice cake can go well with hummus. Nut butters fall into this category too, as there are now a lot of single serving nut butters that would be a great addition to your snack drawer.
HOT TIP: Portion control is really your biggest friend when it comes to snacking. Try using small snack bags or sandwich bags to divvy up the goods and keep your calories in check. Remember that protein gives you a more stable energy source than sugar, and even healthy fats, like nuts and seeds, can give you a boost. Keep an eye on balance in your snack drawer.
If you need addtional snack ideas, check out this list of 42 favorite healthy office snacks.
We’d love to hear your favorite healthy snacks — tell us about them in the comments!