Ever wonder what nutritionists, who’ve spent years studying food science and know their hemp hearts from their hummus, actually reach for when they need a snack? Me too.
I reached out to experts from across the nutrition spectrum, from Paleo to vegan, and asked them to spill: What’s the one tried-and-true snack you turn to?
Mercifully, the heyday of the celery stick is over. Nutrition-experts today are all about chowing down on satisfying, nutrient-dense foods that are readily available (think nut butters and hummus), and serving them in new and fresh ways.
Here, in no particular order, are 10 delicious, expert-endorsed options that’ll have you snacking smarter in no time—without studying for a nutrition degree.
Kerri Glassman, RD, literally wrote a book on the benefits of light noshing—the bestselling Snack Factor Diet, which promotes regular nibbling as a way to boost energy and lose weight. The snack-o-phile’s top pick is six ounces of low fat Greek yogurt, mixed with a half cup of canned pumpkin puree. She sprinkles half teaspoon of cinnamon on top.
The yogurt provides plenty of protein, calcium, and live active cultures, while the pumpkin adds a dose of vitamin A. Plus the cinnamon is loaded with flavor, antioxidants, and can help regulate blood sugar, Glassman says.
Known as “the plant-based dietitian,” Julieanna Hever, RD, has worked with Dr. T. Colin Campbell, the author of The China Study, so it’s no surprise that her favorite snack is dairy-free, homemade hummus. The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Plant-Based Nutrition author likes to eat it with raw veggies, roll it up in nori wrappers (a norito!), or just plain with a spoon.
The beans give a hefty dose of fiber, which “promotes satiety, improves digestion, and reduces blood cholesterol levels,” says Hever, who also let Well+Good peek her in fridge. And hummus is a great source of plant protein and inflammation-busting phytonutrients.
Peanut butter and veggies
As a busy mom juggling family time and media appearances Lisa DeFazio, RD, is all about “no fuss” foods and do-able dieting (the Los Angeles-based nutritionist even cops to feeding her six-year-old a Happy Meal every once in a while). That’s why her favorite snack is a cinch: one tablespoon of peanut butter spread onto an apple, banana, or celery sticks.
In addition to being quick and easy, it’s also a good balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates, DeFazio says—proof that simple can be totally satisfying.
Melissa Hartwig, CISSN is a certified sports nutritionist, a Paleo proponent, and kettlebell enthusiast whose snacking habits include Primal Pacs—pre-packaged grassfed organic beef jerky, dry roasted nuts, dried mango, and cranberries. It’s like trail mix with an extra, meaty punch of protein. But the Utah-based author of It Starts With Food (and who runs the Whole30), a healthy living program with husband Dallas, says she generally avoids snacks and sticks to three meals a day to manage her blood sugar. (And like a true Paleo, she keeps a freezer full of meat.)
Well-rounded New York-based Aussie Dana James, MS, CNS, CDN, has studied nutrition biochemistry, functional medicine, and cognitive behavioral therapy. And as far as nutrition and taste go, her favorite nosh is equally balanced: SeaSnax (non-GMO nori sheets) filled with avocado.
“The saltiness of the nori is nicely juxtaposed against the smooth and creamy consistency of the avocado,” James says. Plus the nori is rich in iodine, which supports thyroid function, and the avocado is “the best anti-ager on the planet,” she adds.
Chia seed pudding
As a nutritionist and founder of the butt-kicking Brooklyn Bridge Boot Camp, Ariane Hundt, MS knows a thing or two about eating for energy. Her go-to pick-me-up is a homemade take on chia seed pudding with a jolt of caffeine. Hundt combines one shot espresso, a cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk, four tablespoons of dark cocoa powder, one scoop of chocolate whey protein powder, four tablespoons of chia seeds, and five ice cubes in her beloved NutriBullet, then lets it sit for a few minutes to thicken.
Chia seeds contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are filling and improve the digestion. Plus, “the whole dish feels just like an indulgent dessert!” she says.
Green juice with hemp hearts
Self-proclaimed “qualitarian” Ashley Koff, RD is on a mission to help everyone eat cleaner, starting with her ranking system of hundreds of everyday foods. What wins her stamp of approval as an on-the-go snack? An organic green juice with a packet of Manitoba Harvest hemp hearts. “Giving your body foods it recognizes easily, like organic vegetables, and skipping chemistry lab projects, like artificial dyes, helps the body work most efficiently,” says the D.C.-based nutritionist and author of Mom Energy.
Plus, the hemp hearts provide plant protein, essential fats, and filling fiber, Koff says. (Here are 15 more Well+Good reader-endorsed ways to enjoy hemp seeds.)
Lauren Slayton, MS, RD, founder of Foodtrainers, a New York City-based nutrition counseling service, is an expert at helping clients lose weight (a skill she honed at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt’s obesity research unit). But when it comes to snacking, she likes drinking her calories. Well, sort of. Slayton reaches for matcha—a powdered green tea with homemade almond milk and a pinch of stevia.
The matcha provides “an antioxidant and metabolic boost, and with homemade almond milk, you avoid carageenan and other unnecessary additives. Plus it tastes so much better,” says Slatyton, whose Foodtrainer newsletters are full of healthy snacks she’s evaluated and recommends.
Nut butter on high fiber crackers
Founder of Real Nutrition NYC, Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CDN, is a TV-spot regular and a busy mom, so Shapiro values easy snacks she can enjoy quickly, but that don’t sacrifice nutrition. Cue her (healthy) obsession with nut butter spread on high fiber crackers, like Mary’s Gone Crackers, brown rice cakes, or GG Bran Crispbreads.
As for which spread she goes for, “my nut butters vary, but all are organic and without added sugar or oils,” Shapiro says. One of her faves is Just Great Stuff’s Powdered Organic Peanut Butter, which is lower in calories and fat, but keeps her satisfied between meals.
Shelled organic soybeans
By late afternoon Junelle Lupiani, RD is usually famished, having put in an already-full day of parenting, running (her exercise of choice), and working as Miraval Resort’s in-spa nutritionist. So she goes for one cup of shelled, organic soybeans with a dash of Tamari, an organic soy sauce, to help get her to dinner.
Lupiani portions out one cup of edamame in a glass container every morning—by 3:00 p.m. it’s defrosted and ready to eat. “Soy is a great plant protein source, so I try to have a few servings each week,” says the Arizona-based nutritionist.
Originally published on September 26, 2013; updated September 4, 2018.
Now that your snacks are covered, here’s what wellness influencers do to spice up their salads. Plus, six food shopping mistakes even healthy people make.
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