It might seem like a high-calorie snack is sometimes the easiest option, but dietitian Julie Upton, MS, RD, of Appetite for Health is here to advise us on the five fresh snacks you can eat while at home, at work, or on the go that will help cut your calorie intake.
Chances are, you're not eating enough fruits and veggies. In fact, research conducted by the National Cancer Institute shows that women are eating, on average, only 1 serving of fruit and 1.5 servings of veggies daily — about half of the minimum suggested servings. As a result, most women's diets are deficient in vitamins A and C, folic acid, magnesium, fiber, and potassium, but they're too high in refined grains, added sugars, and saturated fat.
Upgrading your daily snacks is one of the easiest ways to boost produce servings while crowding out traditional junk-food snacks. Since 24 percent of our daily calories — some 450 calories! — come from between-meal noshes, snacking on calorie-poor produce can also help peel off pounds.
Here are five of my favorite portable produce picks to keep on hand so you won't need to hit the office vending machine or candy bowl for your afternoon pick-me-up.
- Naturipe Ready-to-Eat Fresh Blueberries: Delicate blueberries aren't the most travel-worthy fresh fruit snack, but these washed and ready-to-eat blueberries are sold in rigid single-serve packages so they can go anywhere you do. They're great to pack in a lunch, gym, or work bag. A cup of fresh blueberries has just 85 calories and 3 grams of filling fiber.
- OneBar: While most bars are loaded with added sugars, these bars are virtually all dried fruit with a little fruit or veggie juice concentrate used for color and texture — not to provide sugar. Available in cherry, mango, and apple flavors, they count toward one of your fruit servings. Each bar has 70 calories and 2 grams of fiber.
- Sunsweet Ones: These individually wrapped prunes are a convenient way to satisfy your craving for something sweet while getting a produce serving. I keep them in my car and in my carry-on bag when flying as it's often hard to get produce snacks when traveling. They have 25 calories each (four equal a full fruit serving) and are a good source of fiber and antioxidants.
- Big Slice: This new shelf-stable snack is like a package of healthy apple-pie filling, made with satisfying slices of kettle-cooked apples in a not-too-sweet sauce. They come in great flavors like chai, cherry vanilla, and lemon berry. Even with some fruit juice concentrate used as a sweetener, the entire package weighs in at only 70 calories (less than one large apple) and has 2 grams of fiber. I eat this right out of the package with a spoon, or I'll heat it up and use as a topping for plain Greek yogurt.
- Cherry tomatoes: Cherry or grape tomatoes are great for snacking. The clamshell packages hold about 1 1/2 to 2 cups cherry tomatoes (only about 50-75 calories and 3-4 grams fiber per package!). I keep them at my desk and eat out of the container. For something more substantial, I'll have the tomatoes and combine with protein-rich cottage cheese.