Smart Ways to Satisfy Snack Cravings
Managing weight and blood sugar would be easier if we craved cauliflower, chicken breasts, and kale instead of cake, chips, and cheesy crackers. Although you probably won't bypass every tempting food that comes your way, the more often you make a smart swap, the better off your health will be. Here we tackle some of the biggest snack temptations shared by Diabetic Living readers.
Note: The following nutrition information was tallied based on online nutrient databases, food labels, recipe calculations, and restaurant nutrition information.
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Choose Frozen Low-Fat Greek Yogurt Over Gourmet Ice Cream
Choose This: Strawberry frozen low-fat Greek yogurt (1/2 cup = 130 cal., 19 g carb., 2.5 g fat, 7 g pro.)
Not That: Strawberry gourmet ice cream (1/2 cup = 240 cal., 22 g carb., 15 g fat, 4 g pro.)
When you want a smooth and creamy frozen dessert, pass up high-fat gourmet ice cream for frozen Greek yogurt. This low-fat swap cuts the calories in half. Plus, frozen Greek yogurt is higher in hunger-satisfying protein and has gut-loving probiotics not found in ice cream.
Choose Cauliflower Popcorn Over Buttered Popcorn
Choose This: Cauliflower popcorn (Break a head of cauliflower into popcornlike, bite-size florets, then spread them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spray the cauliflower lightly with butter-flavor cooking spray, then sprinkle lightly with turmeric, freshly ground pepper, and sea salt. Bake 20 to 30 minutes at 425 degrees F or until the cauliflower is slightly browned.) (1 cup = 29 cal., 5 g carb., 0 g fat, 2 g pro.)
Not That: Buttered popcorn (1 cup popped = 45 cal., 5 g carb., 3 g fat, 1 g pro.)
Sure, you could swap buttered popcorn for air-popped to cut the fat, but this twist on popcorn sneaks in a veggie serving and gives you 75 percent of your daily vitamin C. Although the calorie savings may seem small at first glance, keep in mind that people typically eat several cups of popcorn at a time.
Choose Chocolate Tea Over a Chocolate Bar
Choose This: Chocolate tea (1 tea bag = 0 cal., 0 g carb., 0 g fat, 0 g pro.)
Not That: Milk chocolate bar (1.5 ounce bar = 210 cal., 26 g carb., 13 g fat, 3 g pro.)
A warm cup of chocolate-flavor tea lets you enjoy the taste and aroma of chocolate without the calories. Look for chocolate tea in the health section of stores, at specialty tea shops, and online. Many chocolate teas contain other spices, such as cinnamon and cardamom, that pump up the flavor and antioxidants in the tea.
Choose Thin Pretzels Over Sourdough Pretzels
Choose This: Thin pretzels (11 pretzels/1 ounce = 110 cal., 21 g carb., 0 g fat, 2 g pro.)
Not That: Sourdough hard pretzel (One 1-ounce pretzel = 100 cal., 22 g carb., 0 g fat, 3 g pro.)
You can get many grain-base foods -- such as bagels, buns, and bread -- in thinner-sliced, lower-calorie versions. Pretzels are no exception. The bonus with choosing thin, crispy pretzels rather than a big sourdough hard pretzel is that you get 11 pretzels instead of one for about the same calories and carbs. That gives you a lot more chewing action, which may better satisfy your appetite and urge to munch.
Choose Buffalo Chicken Skewers Over Buffalo Hot Wings
Choose This: Buffalo chicken skewers with light blue cheese dip (Thread one chicken breast tender per skewer,* brush with purchased Buffalo wing sauce, and grill or broil a few minutes on each side until chicken is cooked through. For dip, stir together 2 tablespoons plain fat-free Greek yogurt with 1 tablespoon each of crumbled blue cheese and chopped celery.
*Note: If using wooden skewers, soak for 30 minutes in water before using to avoid burning.) (2 skewers with 3 tablespoons dip = 170 cal., 3 g carb., 4.5 g fat, 27 g pro.)
Not That: Buffalo hot wings with blue cheese dip (2 wings with 3 tablespoons dip = 360 cal., 10 g carb., 30 g fat, 11 g pro.)
Homemade Buffalo chicken breast skewers pack more than twice the protein and have less than half the calories of traditional hot wings. Just go easy on the hot wing sauce, which contains about 450 mg sodium per tablespoon.
Choose Kale Chips Over Potato Chips
Choose This: Kale Chips with Lemon Pepper Seasoning (recipe link below) (1 cup = 65 cal., 9 g carb., 3 g fat, 3 g pro.)
Not That: Potato chips (1 cup = 150 cal., 15 g carb., 9.5 g fat, 1 g pro.)
Kale chips help you fit in a serving of nutritious leafy greens plus satisfy your craving to crunch. Check the label of store-bought kale chips; they may have more calories, fat, and sodium than you want. Luckily, kale chips are easy (and less expensive) to make at home. If you're short on time, start with bagged, trimmed kale.
Choose a Mini Bagel with Light Cream Cheese Over a Cream-Filled Doughnut
Choose This: Mini whole wheat bagel with strawberry reduced-fat cream cheese (1 topped bagel = 155 cal., 28 g carb., 3 g fat, 7 g pro.)
Not That: Cream-filled doughnut (1 doughnut = 320 cal., 46 g carb., 1 g fiber, 13 g fat, 4 g pro.)
The carb, fat, and calorie counts of most doughnuts don't fit very well into healthy eating plans. A mini whole wheat bagel with a smear of strawberry reduced-fat cream cheese gives you a sweet, chewy treat that's a good source of fiber and protein. Feeling festive? Go ahead and scatter a few rainbow sprinkles on the cream cheese.
Choose Chocolate Rice Cake Over Chocolate Snack Cake
Choose This: Chocolate rice cake (1 cake = 60 cal., 12 g carb., 1 g fat, 1 g pro.)
Not That: Chocolate snack cake (1 cake = 190 cal., 26 g carb., 9 g fat, 2 g pro.)
Who says rice cakes have to be bland? You can buy whole grain rice cakes covered with a glaze of chocolaty goodness. If you'd prefer to make your own, simply melt some dark chocolate in the microwave and drizzle it in a decorative pattern on a brown rice cake, then chill until the chocolate sets.
Choose Unsweetened Flavored Sparkling Water Over Soda
Choose This: Unsweetened lime sparkling water (8 ounces = 0 cal., 0 g carb., 0 g fat, 0 g pro.)
Not That: Lemon-lime soda (8 ounces = 96 cal., 26 g carb., 0 g fat, 0 g pro.)
Unsweetened flavored sparkling waters have fizz without calories, and their subtle flavors will give you a a nice change from regular water. Most are flavored with natural lemon, lime, raspberry, or orange. The flavorings typically make the water more acidic, though, so drink through a straw to help protect your teeth.
Choose Light String Cheese Over Cheese-Flavor Crackers
Choose This: Light string cheese stick (1 stick = 50 cal., 1 g carb., 2.5 g fat, 6 g pro.)
Not That: Bite-size novelty cheese crackers (55 pieces = 140 cal., 20 g carb., 5 g fat, 4 g pro.)
It's easy to eat crackers mindlessly -- especially when they're cheese-flavor. Before you know it, half the box is gone. A better bet is a light string cheese stick. You'll be getting real cheese flavor without the carbs, plus 15 percent of your daily calcium in just one cheese stick.
Choose a Chocolate-Filled Lollipop Over M&M's
Choose This: Tootsie Roll Pop (1 pop = 60 cal., 15 g carb., 0 g fat, 0 g pro.)
Not That: M&M's candy (1/4 cup = 256 cal., 37 g carb., 11 g fat, 2 g pro.)
When nothing but chocolate candy will do, go for a sweet lollipop with a chocolaty center. Or try this tactic: Before eating M&M's, imagine eating a serving of the candy piece by piece. In one study, people who imagined eating 30 M&M's before being offered a dish of the candy actually ate fewer M&M's than those who imagined eating only three M&M's or none at all. The study suggests that imagining eating a certain food (not merely thinking about the food) may reduce how much you actually eat.
Choose Pizza Kabobs Over Sliced Pizza
Choose This: Canadian bacon pizza kabobs (On a skewer* string half of a Mini Babybel light cheese round, 4 slices of pizza-style Canadian bacon, and 2 each of cherry tomatoes, white mushrooms, green pepper wedges, and 1-inch cubes of Focaccia or French bread. Brush assembled skewers with light Italian salad dressing, and broil or grill until vegetables are tender. Serve with heated pizza sauce.
*Note: If using wooden skewers, soak for 30 minutes in water before using to avoid burning.) (2 skewers with 1/4 cup pizza sauce = 213 cal., 19 g carb., 9 g fat, 13 g pro.)
Not That: Canadian bacon pizza, medium crust (1 slice = 365 cal., 48 g carb., 11 g fat, 16 g pro.)
Pizza kabobs give you the pizza flavor you love without the heavy hit of carbs from the crust. If you're feeding a crowd, offer a variety of ingredients so people can assemble their favorite combinations.