• Wellness Workdays

How to Build a Healthy Snack Bowl


Healthy and nutritious lunch or snack boxes to go with hummus and pita, eggs & vegetables

The purpose of snacking is to hold us over in between meals. However, sometimes we just grab a quick item, and it doesn’t hold us till our next meal. If we eat balanced snacks, they can hold us until our next meal and provide other benefits, for instance, keep our blood sugar stable, prevent overeating at meals and later in the evening, and increase our intake of vitamins and minerals that may have been missed during mealtimes.


Now with so many food options to choose from, it is important to keep health and wellness in mind. Here are a few key points to remember:

  • Aim to build a snack bowl pairing all three macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fats) - this will make you feel full and satisfied.

  • Try to limit foods with added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium resulting in uneven blood sugar levels and increased food cravings.


Another added bonus - building a healthy snack bowl lets you get in touch with your inner creativity! First, choose a theme for your snack bowl. Maybe you want…

  • Mediterranean: smooth hummus with crunchy veggies, pita triangles, tzatziki sauce and a splash of olive oil

  • Parfait: creamy yogurt bowl with a scoop of seasonal fresh fruits, spoonful of granola and a drizzle of honey

  • Savory crunchy flavor: hot air-popped popcorn, tossed with dry roasted nuts, and sprinkled with nutritional yeast

  • Sweet chia pudding: soaked with your favorite milk, a spoonful of mixed berries, topped with sliced almonds

  • Tortilla wrap: with your favorite protein, produce, and salsa


Or build your own choosing a favorite food from each category. Have fun mixing and matching, anything goes!


1. Start your bowl with a whole grain carbohydrate, which is a good source of fiber. It’s recommended that women have 25 grams of fiber a day and men have 38 grams per day. Some examples are:

  • Whole grain crackers

  • Whole grain slider roll

  • Whole pita bread

  • Falafel

  • Small rice cakes

  • Small whole grain tortilla

  • Air-popped or light popcorn (it’s a whole grain)

2. Then add a protein. According to MyPlate, consuming lean and low-fat protein is healthiest. Spread your protein throughout your day for increased energy and satiety. Some examples are:

  • Hard-boiled egg

  • Cheese (string, sliced or cubed)

  • Cottage cheese

  • Sliced chicken or turkey

  • Tuna salad

  • Greek yogurt

  • Tofu

  • Edamame

  • Kidney beans

  • Chickpeas

3. Next add colorful produce rich in antioxidants which support cellular health and reduce risks of cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Stick to seasonal produce to enhance taste and freshness. Some examples are:

  • Blueberries

  • Raspberries

  • Strawberries

  • Grapes

  • Tangerines

  • Papayas

  • Sliced apples

  • Banana slices

  • Cherry tomatoes

  • Mini bell peppers

  • Broccoli/cauliflower

  • Beets

  • Brussel sprouts

  • Celery sticks

  • Carrots coins

4. Add a flavorful dip. Greek yogurt is high in protein, low in fat and is a good source of probiotics known to aid in digestion and nutrient absorption. Here are some others to choose from:

  • Greek yogurt sauce or tzatziki

  • Guacamole

  • Nut butters

  • Hummus

  • Salsa

  • Tapenade

5. Sprinkle on some heart healthy fats like nuts & seeds. Consuming unsaturated fats that are found in avocados, nuts, seeds can lower cholesterol levels, decrease inflammation and stabilize heart arrythmias. Here are some to choose from:

  • Pecans

  • Cashews

  • Walnuts

  • Pine nuts

  • Flaxseeds

  • Sunflower seeds

  • Pumpkin seeds

6. Finally, it’s not finished without a garnish. Here are some to choose from:

  • Slice of lemon or lime

  • Raisins

  • Parsley

  • Cilantro

  • Mint leaves

  • Pinch of parmesan cheese

  • Edible flower

  • Drizzle of honey


The Bottom Line

Having balanced snacks will help you incorporate key nutrients and stay fuller longer. Aim to include whole-grain carbohydrates, protein rich food sources, colorful crunchy produce, flavorful dips, topped with heart healthy fats and finished with a decorative garnish.


Whatever you do, be sure your snack bowl is healthy, satisfying, and delicious!


Happy snacking!!


Learn more about healthy eating habits and other wellness programs offered by Wellness Workdays.


Written by: Diane E. Kohler, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern


Sources:

1. Harvard Health

2. Myplate.gov

3. Mayo Clinic

4. WebMD

5. Cleveland Clinic


#snacks #macronutrients #minimeals #antioxidants #fiber