When your stomach is growling and you’re late to work, school, or an appointment your first inclination may not be the healthiest way to satisfy your hunger. The easiest and most-tempting option may be to swing into one of the many fast-food drive-through windows or convenience stores on your route and grab a quick donut, burger, slice of pizza, or gooey burrito.
Sure, you’ll scarf down those empty calories and quickly feel sated. But you’ll also likely feel disappointed that you’ve downed hundreds of calories that will serve one purpose: Expanding your waistline.
There’s no need to snack on processed foods, and even if you cannot resist the urge to grab lunch with co-workers there are a few rules to follow that will help you avoid high-calorie lunches.
Here are 10 quick, healthy snacks and the reasons why they’re preferable to fast-food fare.
Air-popped popcorn. Butter-saturated movie-theater popcorn isn’t heart-healthy. Air-popped popcorn seasoned with a light dusting of salt, herbs, and/or cinnamon and spices is a cheap, healthy, on-the-go snacking option.
Dried fruit. In moderation, dried fruit is a smart snacking option. Packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and flavor, a handful will satisfy your hunger. Dried fruit is calorie-dense, though, so don’t go overboard.
Sliced veggies and hummus. Pre-cut carrots, celery, bell peppers, and broccoli florets are delicious, nutritious vessels for the nutrient-dense ground-chickpea and -sesame seed spread known as hummus.
Sliced apples and peanut butter. Most healthy office snacks don’t come from vending machines. They come from home sweet home and are transported to the office fridge where they’re easily accessible (and free.) Sliced apples and peanut butter is a quick, healthy office-snacking staple.
Low-fat string cheese. Quick and convenient, you can throw string cheese into your bag or backpack and retrieve it when hunger strikes. This high-calcium nosh can survive hours of non-refrigeration.
Trail Mix. Trail mix is a quick and convenient concoction of nuts, dried fruit, whole grains, and granola. It satisfies hunger pangs and a body’s need for vitamins and fiber.
Yogurt. Just as quickly as you can deposit coins into a vending machine and hit “A2” for a bag of high-calorie potato chips, you can whip open the foil top of a yogurt container and dip a spoon into creamy, calcium-rich, low-fat yumminess.
Almonds. High in heart-healthy fats, almonds are filling, tasty, and easy to store in a car or desk drawer. Those who prefer sweet snacks over salty ones may find cinnamon- and chocolate-infused almonds particularly appealing.
Bananas. A banana is an ideal on-the-go, non-messy snack that requires no prep work — just peel and eat.
Shelled edamame. Edamame, or soybeans, are nutritional powerhouses that are packed with protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They’re widely available in the frozen food section of most grocery stores. Steam them at home, lightly salt them, and take them to work to snack on throughout the day.
At work and school, the dim light of the vending machine may be a permanent beacon. But with a bit of preparation, you’ll be able to bring your own healthy snacks from home and avoid its temptation. An added bonus of bringing your own low-calorie, high-nutrition snacks is that you’ll save money. All of those quarters add up quickly — don’t feed the junk-food beast!