When we’re I-could-eat-a-horse hungry, it’s pretty easy for healthy eating to go out the window. At this point, vending machine chocolate bars practically wink at you.
To prevent these sorts of tempting moments from taking over, the smartest plan of action is to eat satisfying foods. To do this, you’ll need a combo of protein, whole-grain carbs, and healthy fats. The wholesome carbs provide energy, while the protein and healthy fats slow down your digestion, keeping your blood sugar levels stable and you feeling full for longer.
These seven power combos are my go-to eats for keeping my belly happy until my next meal:
1. Whole-Grain Toast With Nut Butter
Whether I’m running out the door or packing snacks for a flight, one of my fave snacks is crunchy nut butter on whole-grain toast. So many of us are still fat-phobic, but fat is the nutrient that keeps us full for the longest! The monounsaturated fats in nut butter can support heart health—win! Plus, whole-grain breads take longer to break down and contain more fiber and nutrients than refined grains, so they make for a satisfying and healthy option. I like Dave’s Killer Bread because just one slice contains five grams of protein and 260 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids.
2. Chia Pudding
Make this snack ahead of time and keep it stashed in the fridge for smart snacking when hanger strikes. Combine one cup almond milk, one teaspoon almond butter, two tablespoons chia seeds, a quarter-teaspoon vanilla extract, a pinch of cinnamon and cocoa powder, and blueberries in a jar. Stir and store in the fridge overnight. Chia pudding packs protein (from the chia seeds and almond butter), calcium (from the almond milk, which is usually fortified), and fiber and antioxidants (from the fruit). Talk about well-rounded.
3. High-Fiber Cereal And Milk
Grab a bowl and a spoon and prepare to make one of the quickest snacks in the book. Look for whole-grain cereal that contains at least five grams of fiber and less than five grams of sugar per serving. Plenty of cereals are fortified with essential nutrients like iron, too, which are hard to come by in a lot of snack foods. You can also add fresh fruit and chopped, unsalted nuts to your bowl to add extra vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, and healthy fats to your snack. Dairy milk provides nine essential vitamins and minerals including calcium, potassium and vitamin D, but if you’re lactose intolerant or vegan, you can go for a plant-based milk, like unsweetened almond milk, instead.
4. Egg And Avocado Muffins
Egg muffins are another great make-ahead snack for supremely satisfying nutrition in a pinch. My California avocado egg muffins are an eggs-cellent (sorry, had to), source of protein and the yolks are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that support eye health. They also provide vitamin A and vitamin B12, and selenium, which supports your immune system. And who doesn’t love avocado? This satiating source of monounsaturated fats also contains an array of 20 vitamins and minerals, including potassium, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, and vitamin B6, as well as riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, and magnesium.
Related: Are You Getting Enough Magnesium?
5. Toasted Whole-Grain Waffle With Cottage Cheese
Don’t you love the scent of a toasted waffle? Try topping a whole-wheat waffle with two tablespoons of low-fat cottage cheese, pear slices, and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Cottage cheese is loaded with protein and the pear provides fiber and antioxidants, two things we can’t get enough of!
6. Greek Yogurt Dip With Veggie Sticks
Too many store-bought dips are loaded with fat and sodium—while skimping on the nutrients. DIY your dip by mixing your favorite seasonings and spices into a few dollops of plain Greek yogurt. I practically drool just thinking about Penzey’s Turkish spices, which includes turmeric, curry, paprika, and a number of other spices. A cup of Greek yogurt provides about 15 grams of protein and 20 percent of your daily calcium needs. Some of my favorite dipping veggies are carrots, zucchini strips, sugar snap peas, and jicama, which are all delightfully crunchy.
7. Sweet Potato And Greek Yogurt Smoothie
This delicious drink makes for an easy, nutrient-packed snack. Blend the following: half a baked sweet potato, half a cup Greek yogurt (plain or vanilla), half a banana, half a cup of skim milk, and two ice cubes into a smoothie. Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A, which is important for good vision and clear skin, and a good source of vitamin C, fiber, B vitamins, and potassium. Plus, you’ll get some potassium from the banana, and calcium and protein from the yogurt and milk.
Bonnie Taub-Dix, R.D.N., C.D.N., is an award-winning author, spokesperson, speaker, consultant, and owner of BTD Nutrition Consultants, LLC. She has been featured on TV, radio, and print, as well as in digital media, including Everyday Health, Better Homes & Gardens, Women’s Health, and U.S. News & World Report. She is a recipient of The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Media Excellence Award.
Keep this infographic handy for a satisfying snack idea in a pinch: