Surprise! Ice cream tops our list of low-calorie snacks. The key is to look for slow-churned or double-churned varieties. This refers to a process that reduces fat and calories while retaining the creamy texture of full-fat varieties, so 1/2 cup has just 100 calories.
When you want a large snack with a small calorie count, popcorn delivers. Some microwave brands have just 100 calories in 6 cups. "You have to chew it, so it's satisfying," says Joan Salge Blake, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. It's also high in fiber, which can help you stay full longer.
You may not expect cheese quesadillas to make a list of low-calorie snacks, but try this recipe: sprinkle an ounce of grated low-fat cheddar cheese over a corn tortilla. Fold in half and microwave for 20 seconds. This quick and tasty snack has only 100 calories and 1.3 g of saturated fat.
Cottage cheese is a protein powerhouse, with 1/2 cup delivering 14 g. Like fiber, protein can help you stay full longer. Enjoy low-fat cottage cheese plain or with a side of fruit. A small wedge of cantaloupe brings the total calories to 100.
Choosing whole-grain crackers is the key to this classic snack. The fiber will keep you feeling full between meals, and the cheese provides protein and calcium. To stay under 100 calories, cut up one slice of low-fat cheese and split it over three crackers.
When the munchies strike while you're on the go, there are few things more convenient than nuts. You can eat 14 almonds without hitting the 100-calorie mark. Plus, they're rich in fiber and protein, which help keep hunger at bay. "They're a great snack when you're stuck in traffic," Blake adds.
For those who don't like nuts, pretzels are just as convenient when you're on the move. To stay under 100 calories, stick to six whole-grain pretzel sticks. This snack is cholesterol-free, low in fat and sugar, and provides more than 3 g of fiber to help tide you over.
Apples are still one of the healthiest snacks around, and there are plenty of ways to put a twist on this old standby. Blake recommends enjoying baked apples – they taste like dessert but provide the same vitamins and fiber as their fresh counterparts. You can even sprinkle cinnamon on top without adding calories.
Here's one that's easy to make and gives you the satisfaction of biting into a sandwich. Grab a whole-grain pita pocket and stuff it with 1/2 ounce part-skim ricotta cheese. The fiber and protein will help fill you up, and the whole snack has less than a gram of saturated fat.
A fruit smoothie offers a scrumptious way to get in some extra calcium and antioxidants during your day. Try blending 1/3 cup of nonfat yogurt with 2/3 cup of frozen blueberries and ice. "It's very refreshing and very cold," Blake says. "That slows down your ability to drink quickly." Snacks that take more time to finish are often more satisfying.
These young soybeans are among the healthiest snacks you can find. A half a cup has more than 8 g of protein and 4 g of fiber to help keep you full. As a bonus, you’ll get nearly 10% of your recommended daily allowance of iron. Edamame is available in ready-to-eat containers for a quick snack on the run.
You can buy these pre-packaged or make them yourself. "It's like having frozen candy," Blake says. "It's a great way to get beta-carotene and fiber while satisfying your sweet tooth." A 3/4 cup serving has just 90 calories and provides 60% of your recommended daily allowance of vitamin C.
When you're craving a satisfying crunch, dip eight large baby carrots into 2 tablespoons of hummus. Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A and beta carotene, while hummus adds protein. Pre-packaged baby carrots are convenient, and there are many varieties of hummus available.
Mixing sweet with salty is a tried and true way to satisfy the munchies. Measure 3/4 cup of apple slices and spread a thin layer of unsalted peanut butter on each slice. To stay near the 90-calorie mark, don't use more than 2 teaspoons of peanut butter in all.
Stir a teaspoon of sunflower seeds into 1/2 cup of nonfat plain yogurt. The seeds add plenty of texture but only 19 calories. The yogurt is a good source of protein, and the entire snack has less than half a gram of saturated fat. Make sure to use unsalted sunflower seeds, especially if you are watching your sodium.
Greek yogurt is known for its extra-creamy texture and high protein content. Just 1/2 cup of nonfat plain Greek yogurt has 12 g of protein to help you stay full. Drizzle on a teaspoon of honey, and the whole snack totals 84 calories. The best part is, you may feel like you're eating dessert.
Microwave a baked potato for an easy snack that's loaded with vitamin C, not with calories. Half of a medium-sized baked potato has 80 calories – keep the skin, which is packed with nutrients. Spread a heaping tablespoon of salsa on top to spice it up and you will still keep it under 100 calories.
Nonfat frozen yogurt is a healthy alternative to ice cream, and it's easy to find varieties with no added sugar. Try making a "FroYo" sandwich by spreading two tablespoons of nonfat frozen yogurt between two graham cracker squares. Even with chocolate frozen yogurt, you're only looking at 84 calories.
Don't let the high fat content in pistachios scare you off -- most of the fat is unsaturated or "good" fat. Eat 20 pistachios, and you'll only take in 80 calories and less than a gram of saturated fat. Plus, they're rich in protein, fiber, and several key vitamins and minerals. To avoid an unhealthy dose of sodium, eat them raw or dry roasted without salt.
If you're looking for a creative way to add more fruit to your diet, try frozen banana pops. Slice several peeled bananas in half and insert popsicle sticks. Coat each half with an ounce of low-fat plain yogurt. Put the pops in the freezer, and soon you'll have ready-to-eat low-calorie treats. At just under 80 calories a pop, this is a snack you can feel good about.
Tomato soup is full of disease-fighting nutrients, but contains as little as 74 calories per cup, no cholesterol, and less than 1 gram of saturated fat. Just keep in mind that there are many varieties. Cream of tomato is significantly higher in fat and calories. When buying canned soup, look for labels that say "low sodium" and check the calorie count.
If you're a cereal fan, try leaving out the milk for a convenient, low-calorie snack. Pour 1/3 cup dry oat squares cereal into baggies you can keep in the car or at your office. Each serving has 70 calories and barely any saturated fat. Other types of whole-grain cereals also work well. Just stay away from overly sweetened varieties.
Grapes are loaded with water, which means that a just under a cup full is 100 calories. The water content helps provide a feeling of fullness and keeps you hydrated. Grapes are also a terrific source of vitamin K and manganese, and contain some fiber to boot. They're great eaten fresh or frozen.
For a savory snack under 60 calories, spread 1 tablespoon of low-fat cream cheese onto a slice of smoked salmon (lox) and roll it up. This salmon pinwheel is high in protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, though the salt used to cure the salmon boosts the sodium content. Use a little less cream cheese and you can have two pinwheels for under 100 calories.
Jicama root is one veggie that's often overlooked. Yet, it is incredibly low in calories and offers a satisfying crunch. Slice the jicama into French-fry sized sticks and dip them in salsa. You can munch on an entire cupful for only 54 calories.
Don't make a habit of snacking on 100-calorie packs of crackers and cookies, which are mainly made with refined flour. These snack packs may be low in calories, but they're also low in nutrients. It's better to make your snacks work for you by delivering protein, fiber, or antioxidants.
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