Healthy Snack Ideas (Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Paleo)
Got the 4pm munchies? We know how tempting it is to reach for a less-than-healthy snack when the tank is running low (hello chocolate!).
But although they are tasty, the problem with many convenient packaged snacks like muesli bars, biscuits and cakes is that they can send your blood sugar skyrocketing and plummeting moments later. AKA, the dreaded sugar crash. The result: you feel tired, foggy and unproductive…not exactly the pick-me-up you had in mind!
Instead, we like to snack smart by keeping a variety of healthy snacks on hand that will truly satisfy hunger and support even energy throughout the day.
So, What Makes A Healthy Snack?
When looking for a healthy snack, our first tip is to choose natural whole foods and avoid anything packaged or refined. This includes packaged snacks that are marketed as “healthy” or even “paleo”. Although paleo snack bars are fine on occasion (and handy for on the go!) be aware that they are often very high in sugar and fat, albeit from natural sources.
We also recommend focussing on foods that are naturally high in protein (the most satiating macronutrient) and healthy fats.
Now that’s not to say we don’t love our carbs, however in general we try to match our carb intake to our activity levels. For example, we find carbs make a great snack before or after a workout. With a bit of experimentation, you’ll also get a feel for what level of carbohydrate works for your body and lifestyle.
You’ll also notice that many of these healthy snack ideas are extremely simple. That’s because we truly believe that the best (and healthiest!) snacks really aren’t complicated. A handful of nuts. A hardboiled egg. Sliced apple with cinnamon. Realistically, these are the kinds of snacks that we would be reaching for on a day-to-day basis. So don’t feel the need to overcomplicate things. Healthy snacking should be easy peasy! 😉
What If I’m Constantly Grazing?
Before we get on to the snacks, it’s important to mention that if you’re grazing constantly throughout the day you may need to review your current diet or increase the size of your main meals. Feeling light headed, dizzy or “hangry” between meals is a sign of blood sugar imbalance and shouldn’t be ignored.
In short, you should be able to move comfortably from one meal to the next without absolutely NEEDING to snack. If you can’t make it between meals, eliminating refined carbohydrates and eating a real food diet (with plenty of healthy fats!) is a great way to start balancing your blood sugar levels!
Below we’ve offered a few of our favourite healthy snack ideas. Of course, these are all gluten-free, dairy-free and paleo!
Keep a variety of these healthy snacks on hand for the next time you’ve got the munchies:
1) Activated Nuts & Nut Butter
When hunger strikes, one of our go-to healthy snacks is a handful of activated nuts. Nuts make a wonderful snack as they contain some protein and are high in fat. However, do keep in mind that not all nuts are created equal, and each type has a different fatty acid profile. Some of our favourites are almonds and macadamias (high in mono-unsaturated fatty acids or “MUFAs”!).
So what’s this business about “activating” nuts? One of the issues with nuts is their high phytic acid content. Phytic acid is considered an ‘anti-nutrient’ as it binds to minerals including magnesium, calcium, zinc and iron and prevents their absorption. Over time, eating large amounts of phytates can contribute to mineral deficiencies and imbalances. No, thanks! ?
One method to reduce the phytic acid content of nuts is to activate them. This process involves firstly soaking your nuts overnight with some salt and then dehydrating them in a dehydrator or oven (use your lowest temperature!). Alternatively, you can buy activated nuts in health food stores – though they can be pricey!
A tablespoon of nut butter also makes for a super easy and yummy snack. But note that unless you’re making it at home, store-bought nut butters are generally not activated. They do however taste oh-so-good…just be sure to stop at one spoonful!
2) Coconut Yoghurt with Berries and Nuts
If you haven’t tried coyo yet, you’re seriously missing out! Coconut yoghurt makes a deliciously rich snack that is high in fat, low in sugar and contains gut-supporting probiotics. To add some sweetness and crunch we also like to add in some berries (blueberries and raspberries are our fave!) and toasted almonds.
For mornings when you’re short on time, this snack also doubles as a great breakfast option when topped with paleo granola! ?
Related: 3 Paleo Breakfast Ideas
3) Apple with Cinnamon
For a snack reminiscent of apple pie, simply slice up an apple and sprinkle with a teaspoon of good quality cinnamon. Not only does this flavour combination taste ahh-mazing, cinnamon has also been shown to decrease fasting blood sugar levels (1).
If you’re particularly hungry we would also recommend adding a tablespoon of almond butter!
4) Hard Boiled Egg
Hard boiled eggs make for a perfect portable snack that’s high in fat and protein (roughly 12g protein for 2 eggs).
Often referred to as the “perfect food”, eggs are a powerhouse of nutrition. The egg yolk in particular contains many key nutrients that are easy for the body to absorb – so please don’t avoid your yolks! Egg yolks provide a range of B vitamins (including B12), choline, preformed vitamin A, vitamin E, selenium, phosphorus and more!
The best (and simplest!) way to enjoy hardboiled eggs as a healthy snack is to top them with a pinch of salt and pepper.
5) Marinated Olives
For a savoury snack, we love olives! Olives pack a punch of flavour and provide most of their energy as healthy monounsaturated fats. What’s more, studies in the Mediterranean have identified a number of beneficial phytonutrients with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity in olives, such as oleuropein (2).
To take your olives to the next level, try marinating them at home with some garlic cloves, sprigs of rosemary and extra virgin olive oil. This beats buying store-bought marinades, which often use cheap inflammatory oils such as vegetable oil. Creating marinades at home is also a fun way to experiment with different flavour combos, and comes in handy when entertaining guests! 😉
6) Tinned Fish (Tuna, Salmon, Sardines) with Sesame Seeds
Another portable snack option to curb your hunger is tinned fish. A small tin of fish is high in protein and, depending on the variety, may also be high in omega-3 fatty acids. This is especially true for salmon and sardines. To keep it interesting, you can add a teaspoon of sesame seeds and enjoy straight from the tin!
Another tip: when buying tinned fish always choose varieties that are canned in spring water rather than oil. Delicate fatty acids are prone to oxidation and can go rancid if stored improperly or for long periods of time.
7) 1/2 Avocado
It’s no secret that we love our avocados! And for good reason – avocados are a great source of monounsaturated fats and are packed with fiber (up to 80%!) which helps keep you feeling full and satiated. Nutritionally, avocados contain a range of vitamins and minerals (including Vitamin E, B Vitamins & magnesium). Interestingly, avos also pack more potassium than bananas!
For a healthy snack, we simply slice half an avocado, add a little salt, and eat it straight from the skin with a spoon!
So There You Have It!
As you can see, there’s no need for your snacks to be hard or complicated. All of the healthy snack ideas we’ve shared are extremely simple, but will be sure to provide you with stable, even energy throughout the day! We hope you’re inspired to give some of them a try!
What are your favourite healthy snacks? Comment below!