Healthy snacks for weight loss

By Charlyn Fargo

Need some snack ideas that will help you lose weight in the upcoming new year? Finding simple, tasty food options that won’t break the calorie bank doesn’t have to be hard. Let Hy-Vee show you how to put together easy recipes that will give you the nutrition you need while keeping you and your family on the go.

Healthy snacking is actually good for you. Snacking is a great pick-me-up, and it provides an opportunity to include all the important food groups in your diet. Snacking also can keep you from overeating at your next meal, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. And if you’re an athlete, healthy snacks can help meet the increased calorie and nutrient needs of maintaining/gaining lean body mass.

The key? Snacks full of quality nutrients, not added sugars and processed foods. Keep your snacks under 200 calories each for an average adult, or between 200-300 calories for athletes, and limit snacks to one or two a day. Think of snacks as mini-meals that contribute nutrient-rich foods.

A healthy snack includes at least one food from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA’s) MyPlate food groups – grains, vegetables, protein, fruit and dairy. Combine peanut butter and banana and you offer your body manganese, folate, protein, niacin, vitamin C, fiber and potassium. Those nutrients are important for healthy eyes and strong muscles, an increased feeling of fullness and heart health.

Combine Greek yogurt and blueberries to get vitamin A, calcium, protein, vitamin C, manganese and fiber. These nutrients are important for healthy eyes, hair, nails, skin, strong bones and heart health, and are rich in disease-fighting antioxidants.

Combine hummus and baby carrots for the nutrients of manganese; folate; fiber; protein; copper; phosphorus; iron; vitamins A, K and C; potassium and magnesium. These nutrients support healthy digestion and an increased feeling of fullness and are important for healthy vision.

Pistachios and an apple offer your body the nutrients of phosphorus, potassium, vitamin B6, fiber, protein and vitamin C. These nutrients give an increased feeling of fullness, have cancer-fighting properties and are heart-healthy.

A snack of low-fat cottage cheese with red peppers gives your body vitamins A, C, K and B6, as well as protein, calcium and fiber. Those nutrients are important for strong muscles and bone health and important for healthy vision.

Here are some healthy snack options, which include a protein, fat and /or fiber food with a carbohydrate food:

  • ¼ cup nuts, such as pistachios, and a piece of fruit
  • 2 sheets of graham crackers with natural peanut butter or almond butter
  • 4-5 whole grain crackers with peanut butter
  • 1 slice whole grain bread with peanut butter
  • Carrots, cherry tomatoes, cucumber or celery sticks with an oil-based salad dressing or vinaigrette
  • Popcorn trail mix: 1 cup light popcorn mixed with ¼ cup nuts and 2 tablespoons raisins
  • Cereal Mix: ¼ cup nuts, 2 tablespoons dried fruit, 1 tablespoon chocolate pieces and ¼ cup whole grain cereal
  • Low-fat yogurt with 2-3 tablespoons chopped nuts
  • Hummus with cut vegetables or whole wheat pita bread
  • Sliced apple or banana with peanut butter
  • Peanut butter smoothie: Blend 1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt, one banana and 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • Fruit smoothie: Blend 6 ounces low-fat vanilla yogurt, ½ cup skim milk, 1 cup fresh or frozen berries (strawberries, raspberries or blueberries)
  • Fresh fruit or vegetables with ½ cup low-fat cottage cheese
  • 13 baked corn chips with fresh salsa
  • A hard-boiled egg with a piece of whole grain toast topped with light, non-trans-fat margarine
  • Celery sticks spread with peanut butter or low-fat cream cheese (top with raisins or dried cranberries)
  • Toasted English muffin, drizzled with pizza sauce and sprinkle with low-fat mozzarella cheese
  • Banana, topped with low-fat vanilla and strawberry frozen yogurt and sprinkled with your favorite whole-grain cereal or granola
  • Cubes of low-fat cheese and grapes on pretzel sticks
  • Graham cracker spread with vanilla Greek yogurt and topped with cut fruit
  • All-Bran wheat crackers, Cheerios, animal crackers, honey bear-shaped crackers, shredded wheat cereal, raisins and M&M’s – all combined in a bowl

(Adapted from the Food, Nutrition and Health Tips from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics)

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About the author

Charlyn Fargo spent 27 years at the State Journal-Register covering agriculture, business and food. She currently is the Bureau Chief of County Fairs & Horse Racing with the Illinois Department of Agriculture. She is also a Registered Dietitian and writes a weekly syndicated nutrition column for Creator’s News Service ( and is co-owner of Simply Fair, a fair trade boutique at 2357 W. Monroe in Springfield. She has bachelor’s degrees in agricultural communications and food from the University of Illinois, Champaign and a master’s degree in nutrition from Eastern Illinois University. She and her husband, Brad Ware, have a daughter, Kate, and son, Jayden. When she’s not working or writing, she enjoys baking cookies for Simply From Scratch, a company she formed to support faith-based ministries.

View all articles by Charlyn Fargo