Even the most well-intentioned diets can hit a snag when it comes to snack time. When an afternoon craving hits and you head to the nearby convenience store, you’ll normally find shelves stocked with processed food and sugar.
Snacking on fruits is a good way to stick to healthy eating. So is snacking on vegetable sticks. However, food that is good for you can sometimes become boring and you need a salty fix to tickle your taste buds.
The following dips and snacks are nutritious, delicious, and easy to prepare. Ready-made versions are available at Healthy Options if you’re too busy to prep.
Best Dips for Snacks
You can look to Mexican and Middle-Eastern cuisine for your next tasty snack.
An easy Mexican dip, salsa is typically made with tomatoes as the base ingredient. A basic salsa is served raw and has onions and chilies mixed in with the tomatoes, but many variations abound, ranging from sweet to tangy to very spicy: Mango salsa is spicy and sweet, and makes an excellent topping for grilled fish or chicken.
Chipotle salsa is made with smoked jalapeno chilies and has a smoky and spicy flavor. Corn salsa is a chunky version that’s used as an ingredient in burritos and, as its name suggests, has corn mixed in with the tomatoes. Sometimes corn salsa has some black beans mixed in, which gives it more protein and a saltier taste.
Because it’s made with fresh tomatoes, salsa is a fairly low-calorie food that has plenty of Vitamin C. You can have it as a snack or add it to any of your meals—use it as a dip for chips, add it to your favorite Mexican dishes like tacos, mix it in with your scrambled eggs for breakfast, or use it as a topping for fish.
Try: Newman Bandito Salsa Hot, Cadia Salsa Black Bean and Corn, and Cadia Salsa Mango, all available at Healthy Options
Guacamole is an avocado-based dip, spread, or salad ingredient first developed by the Aztecs. Its popularity has since spread from Mexico and the U.S., where guacamole is especially in demand during Super Bowl Sunday and Cinco de Mayo, a Mexican festival. Because its primary ingredient is avocado, guacamole is a good source of fiber, Vitamin B, fat, cartenoids, and other vitamins and minerals.
Traditionally, guacamole is made of avocados, salt, tomato, onion, garlic, lemon or lime juice, jalapeno, and cilantro, all mashed together using a mortar and pestle. Like apples that turn brown when sliced, guacamole likewise turns brown when exposed to air. One way to keep your guac an appetizing green color is to stick the avocado pit into it when you’re done mashing.
The problem with making your own guacamole is that avocados can be very hard to find when they’re not in season. And even when they are in season, determining when an avocado is perfectly ripe can be tricky—it only has a window of a couple of days for optimum flavor—if you slice it open before it’s ready, you get a hard, bitter flesh; if you open it up a day late, you get a mushy, overripe mess. If avocados are not in season or you don’t have the patience to wait for optimum ripeness, then try a ready-made version of guacamole.
Try: Frontera Guacamole Mix Original, available at Healthy Options
The earliest evidence of hummus dates back to 13th-century Cairo. Today, this dip is an integral part of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. It’s made of chickpeas (also known as garbanzos), garlic, tahini (sesame seeds that are toasted and ground into a paste), olive oil, lemon juice, and salt all pureed together.
While hummus isn’t exactly a low-calorie food (a one-third cup serving contains 16 grams of carbs), it’s nutrient-dense, which makes it better than processed dips. It’s a good source of protein, healthy fat, and vitamins and minerals. It is normally eaten with pita bread for a filling snack.
Go for whole-wheat pita or, if you’re allergic to gluten, make flat bread using a gluten-free ancient grain. You can also use hummus in place of sandwich spreads and mayonnaise or as a dip for vegetable sticks.
Try: Wild Garden Hummus Traditional, available at Healthy Options