By Juhie Bhatia
A good-for-you snack at work can provide the energy boost you need to get through the day. Here are some choices that will fill you up without filling you out.
1) Banana and Almond Butter
For a sweet afternoon pick-me-up, registered dietitian Allison J. Stowell suggests having a banana with almond butter. She recommends Justin's All Natural Almond Butter packets (each an individual serving). "Almond butter is a nice alternative to peanut butter and these convenient, affordable packets make it easy," she says. If you prefer to buy a jar of Almond butter, 2 tablespoons is about the same size of a package, which delivers around 200 protein-packed calories.
2) Trail Mix
Trail mix is not only good on a hike; it's a great work snack, too. Stowell suggests making your own. Mix 6 almonds or cashews (or 2 tablespoons of pumpkin seeds) with 3/4 cup of high-fiber, low-sugar cereal and 2 tablespoons of raisins or unsweetened dried cranberries. "This mix will offer heart-healthy fat from the nuts or seeds, fiber and a serving of fruit for a snack that is balanced and sustaining," she says.
Don't think of it as just a breakfast food. "Oatmeal is a great source of soluble fiber, which will keep you feeling full longer," says registered dietitian Lanah J. Brennan.. She suggests making one packet of plain instant oatmeal, with no added sugar or other additives, and topping it off with 1 to 2 tablespoons of chopped walnuts. "Nuts are a good source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats," she adds. If you're not a fan of nuts (or allergic to them), ground flax seeds are a great alternative.
4) Peanut Butter Sandwich
"This is a quick, balanced snack that does not require refrigeration," says Brennan. She suggests eating half a peanut butter sandwich when the munchies hit -- one tablespoon of peanut butter on one slice of bread. To maximize your health, go for whole wheat or sprouted grain bread and natural peanut butter with no additives.
5)Crackers and a Low-Fat Topping
Since most crackers contain carbs and fat, says Brennan, you don't need extra fat in the topping, too. "Instead of peanut butter or cheese, choose a lean protein." She recommends one serving of crackers with an ounce of lean turkey or an ounce of tuna fish mixed with reduced-fat mayo made from olive or canola oil. "For more fiber, choose crackers with a whole grain, whole wheat flour, brown rice or quinoa listed as the first ingredient."
6) Cottage Cheese and Berries
This snack combo provides a nice balance of sweet and savory. It also packs some satisfying protein, says Brennan. She suggests mixing1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese with a 1/2 cup of berries, such as raspberries or blueberries. Berries not only up your daily fruit intake, they also boost your health in other ways. One study, for example, showed that blueberry extract improved memory in older adults, says Brennan.
7) Apple and Cheese
"This snack combines protein and carbohydrates for a well-balanced snack," says Stowell, and it will keep you satisfied through the afternoon. Pair an apple with 2 ounces of low-fat cheese or two cheese sticks. If convenience is an issue, Stowell suggests picking up some pre-sliced apples.
Granola bars made with fruit and nuts are easy to carry and store, making them a good desk snack. But with the abundance of choices out there, figuring out which are the healthiest can be overwhelming. One option: Stowell recommends Kashi's TLC granola bars. "I prefer these bars because they offer 6-7 grams of protein per bar. Most bars only offer 2 grams of protein," says Stowell. Her personal favorite flavors are Peanut Butter, Honey Almond Flax and Dark Mocha Almond.
9) Hummus and Veggies
This delicious chickpea spread is easy to eat at work. For a snack size, Stowell recommends having 1/3 cup of hummus with 1 cup of mixed veggies, such as baby carrots, sugar snap peas and grape tomatoes. "These three [veggies] add color and a variety of nutrients," she says. "And hummus is rich in the right fat and also offers a bit of protein." With the large variety of hummus flavors out there, it shouldn't be hard to keep it interesting for your taste buds.
10) Guacamole and Chips
This snack isn't just a party food. "Avocados are rich in monounsaturated, 'good-for-you' fat and baked chips save on calories," Stowell says. When the cravings hit, she recommends having a Wholly Guacamole 100 Calorie Snack Pack with a serving of baked tortilla or potato chips.
Click here for 10 more healthy snacks to eat at your desk.
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By Juhie Bhatia