It’s 4pm and you’re mindlessly munching on a chocolate bar, all New Year healthy eating intentions out the window. Sound familiar? We’re a nation of snackers, and when the mid-afternoon slump hits, it’s all too tempting to reach for something packed with sugar to get us through the next couple of hours.
A new campaign from Public Health England is calling for children to have no more than two 100 calorie snacks per day, and after the overindulgence of the festive season, it’s advice we could all use. We’ve selected the top low-cal snack ideas to stop you and your little ones reaching for the biscuit tin:
1 Oatcake with peanut butter
Sugar-free and filling, oatcakes are the perfect solution to nagging hunger pangs. Team with protein-rich peanut butter for an added hit of healthy fats. Not mad on oatcakes? Rice cakes work just as well.
2 Kale chips
Toss 85g raw kale (stems removed) with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and bake at 200°C/Gas Mark 6 until crisp. Add a sprinkle of seasoning, like salt or paprika, if you like. Kale is an excellent source of vitamin K, essential for helping wounds heal properly, and may be beneficial for bone health.
3 Chocolate banana
Chop up half a frozen banana into bite-size chunks and dip into 2 teaspoons of melted dark chocolate. Bananas are rich in potassium which helps lower blood pressure, while dark chocolate is high in antioxidants (and delicious).
4 Carrots and houmous
Crunchy and high in antioxidant beta carotene, raw carrots make the perfect healthy, no-fuss snack. Aim for 2 regular or 12 baby carrots with 2 tablespoons of houmous. The chickpeas used in houmous are high in B vitamins – great for vegetarians and vegans who may be lacking.
5 Apple and almond butter
Slice half an apple and dip into creamy, vitamin-rich almond butter. Apples are rich in fibre and may help reduce the risk of developing cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
6 Banana chips
Dip banana slices in lemon juice, spread on a baking tray covered with parchment and bake at 140°C/Gas Mark 1 until dry – usually 1-2 hours. Allow the slices to cool completely before removing from the tray and keep in an airtight container for up to two weeks. Aim for one small banana’s worth of chips per serving.
7 Honeyed yoghurt
Stir a dash of cinnamon and 1 teaspoon of honey (make it Manuka for an extra boost) into around 120g nonfat Greek yoghurt for a sweet treat. Look for yoghurt with active cultures to help support good gut health.
8 Frozen grapes
So simple, and you can trick your taste buds into thinking you’re chowing down on ice cream. Freeze grapes for at least two hours, and stick to around 30 per serving. Grapes contain powerful antioxidants – the resveratrol in red wine is thanks to heart-helping polyphenols found in red grape skins.
9 Blue cheese-stuffed apricots
Dried apricots are rich sources of fibre, iron and vitamin A. Stuff three with 1 tablespoon of crumbled blue cheese when you’re craving a salty/sweet hit.
10 Peanut butter and celery
Munch 1 celery stick with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter. Celery is a great source of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, and its juicy crunch complements thick nut butters perfectly.