Low in calories and good for you: We looked for 10 snack foods that would help our goal to eat better at work, where it’s too easy to succumb to ubiquitous empty-calorie foods. Our criteria:
1. BONE BROTH. Nutritious, nourishing, packed with protein, bone broth staves off pangs of hunger. You can buy individual containers in four flavors from Pacific Organic (phoro #1). If you have a fridge at work to keep open containers, choose a family size from Pacific or Kitchen Basics. If you don’t have a microwave at work, heat it at home and bring it in a thermos. Here’s more about bone broth.
2. INSTANT MISO SOUP. Love the miso soup at Japanese restaurants? Buy instant soups from Sushi Chef, Kikkoman or other manufacturer. You get a packet of miso paste to mix with hot water, and a packet of freeze-dried veggies and/or tofu that plump up in the hot soup. While instant soups are known for their salt content, it’s no worse than polishing off a bag of chips. If you don’t need to cut back on salt, you can fit a cup into your daily consumption.
3. PRE-PACKAGED GREEN SALADS. You have no excuse for avoiding salad when all you have to do is tear open cellophane. Dole and Fresh Express both make light versions of Caesar Salad (photo #2). If your favorite mix doesn’t come with a light dressing option, keep a bottle of low-calorie dressing at work—along with a large bowl and a fork. One of our favorite snacks: a cole slaw mix with light cole slaw or ranch dressing.
4. NO SUGAR ADDED HOT CHOCOLATE. When you want a sweet treat, take a packet of low-calorie hot chocolate mix to the water cooler and whip up a cup. If it isn’t sweet enough for you, add a half-packet of non-caloric sweetener. While most people use individual packets of Nestlé or Swiss Miss, we buy Swiss Miss No Sugar Added in the bulk can, better to adjust the level of intensity.
5. APPLES & ORANGES. These fruits can last a couple of weeks or longer without refrigeration. An apple a day keeps the candy bar away; an orange a day keeps the cookies away.
6. NUT OR ROASTED CHICKPEA PACKETS. The FDA recommends that an ounce of nuts a day can be part of a heart-healthy diet. You get 32 whole almonds in an ounce! Try them raw or toasted; you can toss either in chile powder, garlic or other spice. Blue Diamond and Planter’s, among others, have individual portion sizes; and beyond nuts there are roasted chickpea packets from The Good Bean (photo #3) and others.
7. NUT BUTTER SQUEEZE PACKETS. Almond, hazelnut and peanut butters ub individually-portioned packets make a tasty snack, plain or with an apple. Check out the varieties from Justin’s.
8. BABY CARROTS. A snack favorite, no effort required. Eat them plain or with Greek yogurt. If you can pull together mixed crudites (celery sticks, radishes, broccoli florets, etc.), so much the better.
9. TOMATO JUICE. Not tomato juice cocktail, but the real deal. Check the label to see there’s no added sugar. Keep a bottle of Worcestershire sauce on hand and add a few shakes. Our favorite brand is R.W. Knudsen. It’s a great snack combo with a side of baby carrots.
10. POPCORN. If you have a microwave at hand, pop this whole-grain snack from scratch. Orville Redenbacher and Pop Secret (photo #4) have individual microwave packets). Otherwise, pre-popped does nicely. Go for plain popcorn and flavor as you wish with black pepper, chili flakes, garlic powder, etc.
If we’ve missed your favorite better-for-you snack, let us know!