Healthy Snack Recipes That You’ll Want to Bring to Work

When 3 p.m. hunger pangs hit, it’s tempting to head straight for the vending machine. But chowing down on a candy bar or bag of chips isn’t going to give you the energy you need to get through the last couple of hours of your work day. While you might get a short-term boost from eating a sugary snack, the effect will be short-lived, and you won’t be at your most productive.

“If you eat high fat, high sugar meals and snacks you will be sleepy and have low energy overall,” Lisa De Fazio, a healthy lifestyle expert and registered dietitian, told Inc. “High fat foods take more work to digest. Candy causes sugar to spike in your blood stream then crash, and you also may have an upset stomach. Who can be productive with all of this going on?”

Healthier snacks, with protein, complex carbs, and other good-for-you ingredients, will give you the boost you need to power through the last of the day’s to-dos. Here are six recipes for healthy snacks you can easily stash in your desk or the work fridge, so you never have to settle for a Snickers again.

1. Roasted Pistachios with Fresh Thyme and Paprika

pistachio.jpg

Pistachios | iStock.com

Nuts are a healthy, energy-boosting snack, but the packaged variety you’ll find in your office vending machine may be coated with sugar and salt. A better – and cheaper – way to snack on roasted nuts is to make your own. This recipe from Wistful Chef combines pistachios (a good source of protein, fiber, potassium, magnesium, and vitamin K) with thyme, paprika, and just a hint of sweetness for a snack that will see you through to 5 p.m.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup pistachios
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Directions: Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine the olive oil, thyme, paprika, sugar, and salt in a bowl, then add the pistachios and mix well.

Spread pistachios in an even layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 20 minutes, stirring once or twice during cooking. Remove from oven and let pistachios cool. Store in an airtight container until ready to eat.

2. Beef Jerky and Cherry Trail Mix

Beef Jerky

Beef jerky | iStock.com

A meaty trail mix is just the snack you need to power through a late-afternoon meeting. This snack mix is easy to make, and if you like you can even prepare it with own homemade beef jerky. Recipe from Just J. Faye.

Ingredients:

  • 3½ ounces beef jerky
  • ¾ cup dried cherries
  • ¾ cup raw almonds
  • ¾ cup raw cashews
  • ⅓ cup pepitas

Directions: Add all ingredients to a container with lid. Shake to combine. Place snack-size portions of the trail mix in small resealeable bags or containers and store in your desk until ready to eat.

3. Fruit and Nut Popcorn Balls

Popcorn

Bowl of popcorn | iStock.com

OK, so the marshmallows in these bite-size popcorn balls may not be the healthiest thing ever. But the combination of protein from the nuts and peanut putter, as well as healthy fiber in the popcorn, still make these treats a better option than a bag of Lay’s. Recipe from Cozy, Delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups popped popcorn, unsalted
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • ¼ cup sweetened dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup honey-roasted peanuts
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cups mini marshmallows
  • ¼ cup creamy peanut butter
  • Nonstick cooking spray

Directions: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the popcorn, raisins, cranberries, peanuts, and salt together in a large bowl.

Melt the butter in a large pan over low heat. Add the marshmallows and cook until melted, stirring frequently. Add the peanut butter. Stir until smooth.

Pour the peanut butter and marshmallow mixture over the popcorn and stir to combine, working quickly. Spray some nonstick cooking spray on your hands and quickly form the popcorn mixture into 2-inch balls. Place the balls on the parchment-paper-lined pan and let sit for at least 30 minutes, until hard.

4. DIY Instant Oatmeal

oatmeal with fruit and nuts

Oatmeal | iStock.com

Instant oatmeal may seem like a breakfast item, but it also makes the perfect easy-to-prepare afternoon pick-me-up. Commercially prepared versions of instant oatmeal tend to include  a lot of sugar, but you can make a healthier version of this whole-grain snack by preparing your own instant oatmeal packets at home. This recipe from Oh My Veggies calls for dried blueberries and almonds, but you can use whatever mix-ins you prefer.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup old-fashioned rolled oats or instant oats
  • 2 teaspoons chia seeds
  • 2 teaspoons dried milk
  • 1 teaspoon dried sweetener of choice (such as maple sugar, coconut sugar, or brown sugar)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons dried blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon sliced almonds

Directions: Combine all the ingredients in a small resealable bag or container. Store in a cool, dry place until ready to eat.

To prepare, transfer oatmeal mix to a bowl, add ¾ cup water, and stir to combine. Heat on high in microwave for 1½ to 2 minutes. Let stand to allow oatmeal to thicken, then serve.

5. Make-Ahead Mini Parfaits

yogurt, granola and berries

Parfait | iStock.com

Parfaits made from high-protein Greek yogurt and nutritious berries are the perfect afternoon snack when you’re craving something slightly sweet. You can prepare a week’s worth of these petite parfaits in advance and then store in the refrigerator at work until ready to eat. Recipe from Organize Yourself Skinny. Note: You’ll need 5 small mason jars (4 ounces each) or other small containers to store the parfaits.

Ingredients:

  • 1¼ cups frozen mixed berries
  • 5 teaspoons clover honey
  • 1¼ cups Greek yogurt, vanilla or plain
  • 5 tablespoons or more granola

Directions: Spoon ¼ cup of berries into each mason jar. Top each with 1 teaspoon of honey, ¼ cup Greek yogurt, and 1 tablespoon of granola. Seal jars and store in refrigerator until ready to eat. Prepared parfaits will keep for 3 to 5 days.

6. 5-Ingredient Peanut Butter and Banana Energy Bars

peanut butter oat energy bars

Homemade energy bars | iStock.com

Store-bought energy bars can be high in calories and may come with an ingredient list a mile long. Fortunately, making your own energy bars at home is as easy as it is cheap. You need just 5 ingredients to prepare these peanut butter and banana energy bars from Bowl of Delicious!, which will keep for up for 6 months when stored in the freezer.

Ingredients:

  • 3 very ripe bananas
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
  • 2 cups oats
  • 1 cup nuts and/or seeds

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Add the bananas, peanut butter, honey, cinnamon, and vanilla to the bowl of a stand mixer and mix until very smooth (or use a hand mixer to combine). Add the oats, along with the nuts or seeds, and mix until combined.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the banana mixture into the pan and flatten until you have an even layer. Bake for 30 minutes, or until bars turn golden brown around the edges.

Remove pan from oven and allow to cool completely. Cut into bars and wrap individual bars in plastic wrap. Bars will keep for about 1 week if stored at room temperature, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Follow Megan on Twitter @MeganE_CS