Sticking to a healthy diet is a lot easier if you think outside of the box, and while “natural,” “gluten-free,” and “organic” are certainly not code for falling face first into the bags of cookies and chips you find at your corner health food store, there are a number of unusual takes on traditional snacks that you may be surprised to learn are actually healthy. Bring on the peanut butter flavored cricket bars!
Seaweed may not be your first thought when trying to think of a healthy snack, but it’s not only low in calories, a single serving has more calcium than broccoli and as much protein as a serving of legumes. Plus, it’s gluten-free, vegan, high-fiber, low-fat, cholesterol-free, and very rich in vitamins such as A, B, C, E, and K. However, because a good chunk of our oceans are polluted with heavy metal toxins that may be easily absorbed by certain seaweeds, make sure to look for brands that are non-GMO, organic, and source their seaweed sustainably like SeaSnax. SeaSnax makes a variety of forms of edible seaweed to satisfy crunchy, salty snack cravings.
Crickets are a complete protein source (65% by dry weight), containing all the essential amino acids and high in micronutrients such as omega-3s, calcium, B12, iron, and magnesium. Gram for gram, crickets have more iron than beef, more calcium than milk, and 2.2 times more iron than spinach. Crickets are also a highly sustainable alternative food source — they produce 100 times less greenhouse gases than cows, and are much more efficient in producing protein, requiring less feed, water, and space. Also, recent research from the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that insects are actually healthier than meat. Curious? Checkout Exo, the company behind cricket flour-based snack bars.
Chickpeas are a fantastic source of healthy protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, but you don’t need to stick to hummus. Brands like Chickpeatos have turned garbanzo beans into a satisfyingly healthy snack. All of the brand’s snacks are made using organic beans roasted with olive oil or coconut oil (i.e., they’re never deep-fried like most salty snacks).
4. Nut butter
Nut butters are great in theory, but many of the most popular ones lining supermarket shelves are filled with sugar, hydrogenated oils, and preservatives. Not so with Nuttzo Original 7 Nut and Seed Butter, which has the added bonus of being organic, non-GMO, and containing — surprise, surprise — seven nutrient-rich nuts and seeds: peanuts, cashews, almonds, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, and flax seeds.
5. Chia snack bars
Food bars get a bad rap for being high in calories, fat, preservative, artificial sweeteners, and a long list of unpronounceable ingredients; for the most part that’s true, but not so with Chia Bars from Health Warrior. These bars are the only ones with chia as the main ingredient. Ounce-for-ounce chia has more omega-3s than salmon, more fiber than oatmeal, and more protein than tofu.
6. Roasted kale
Kale chips are a dime a dozen these days, but many are finished with so many “dressings” they’re more like an indulgence than a healthy snack. Rhythm Superfoods just released a new Roasted Kale line made from 100% fresh organic lacinato kale which is roasted in oil and only lightly seasoned. From the wide selection on the market it’s one of the ones that most closely resembles kale fresh out of the oven, with each bag clocking in at only 60 calories or less.
Cookies are the last thing one would typically associate with a health food, but WB Kitchen’s Ona Cookies are not only sweetened with nothing aside from honey, they’re made exclusively using recognizable, body-nourishing ingredients like almonds, pecans, sunflower seeds, shredded coconut, cinnamon, and coconut milk. They’re chewy and totally addicting.