The holidays are here, which means 2022 is right around the corner. Unfortunately, this time of year also tends to involve lots of heavy eating. Pumpkin pie, cookies and comfort foods abound, which makes choosing healthy foods much more difficult — if not impossible. Who can resist a plate of warm chocolate chip cookies or an extra helping of homemade mashed potatoes?
Once the festivities come to an end, start afresh with these quick and easy guilt-free foods. Are the kids hungry yet again? Nix the pizza rolls and grab one of the following instead. Your entire family will be better off for it.
1. Yogurt Parfaits
Most single-serving yogurts contain added sugars and artificial ingredients that lack nutritional value. Luckily, there’s a healthier alternative that’s just as quick — and way tastier.
Simply combine plain Greek yogurt with fresh or slightly frozen fruit, top with honey and dig in. Customize your parfaits with toppings like granola, seeds, nuts, cocoa nibs, coconut shavings and more. Prep this snack ahead of time so you have a few jars in the fridge whenever you crave a sweet, filling snack.
2. DIY Trail Mix
Store-bought trail mixes often includes calorie-dense ingredients like chocolate chips, m&ms and other sugary treats. While they might be tasty, too big a helping can cause an energy spike and subsequent crash, leaving you feeling sluggish and fatigued. Skip the pre-made mix and blaze your own trail with a DIY blend of dried fruit, nuts and seeds.
Your options for combining ingredients are practically endless, so get creative and trust your tastebuds. Once you have a solid recipe, you can whip up a large batch and grab it out whenever you or the kids get the munchies.
3. No-Bake Energy Bites
If you need an afternoon pick-me-up that won’t make you feel guilty, whip up a batch of no-bake energy bites. These two-bite energy boosters taste even better than they look. Plus, they’re super easy to make, highly customizable and a real kid-pleaser.
All you need is an ingredient that acts as a binding agent — like peanut butter or agave — and healthy ingredients for filler. For instance, you might combine nut butter, rolled oats, shredded coconut, ground flaxseed, honey and raisins. Once everything is evenly combined, roll the mixture into balls and store them in an airtight container in the fridge. Grab-n-go snacks have never been so simple!
4. Poke Bowls
Got an extra minute to grab a bite? Throw together a quick and easy poke bowl. This light meal requires some assembly, but if you prep the ingredients ahead of time, you can put a bowl together in a minute or less.
First, prepare your protein. Ahi tuna, hard-boiled eggs, steak and chicken are popular choices. Try incorporating vegan proteins like seitan and tofu, too. Use rice or noodles as a base and top with foods like edamame, corn, sprouts, avocado, radishes, lettuce and tomatoes. Drizzle a little salad dressing, spicy sauce or a homemade relish atop your creation and enjoy!
5. Lettuce Wraps
If you have time to make a poke bowl, you have time to make a lettuce wrap. Whether you enjoy it as a snack or a meal, this food is super easy to make and perfect for busy families that are always on the go. Lettuce wraps also allow for plenty of customization so you can substitute ingredients to your heart’s content.
Again, keep snack time simple by prepping ingredients beforehand. Bag up some ground chicken, tuna or even beans as a protein source. Then, clean and chop some veggies and herbs like bell peppers, water chestnuts and cilantro. Toss the veggies in a dressing such as a balsamic vinaigrette or a keto-friendly lite Italian dressing for additional flavor. You’ll also want to rinse and dry your lettuce so it’s all ready for wrapping when the time comes.
6. Roasted Chickpeas
Chickpeas — or garbanzo beans — are delicious and nutritious legumes that make for a quick, easy snack when you roast them in the oven. Simply drain and dry a can of them and toss the little guys in some olive oil and salt. Spread them out on a baking sheet and roast at 400°F for about 30 minutes.
Eat them straight out of the oven if you’re craving some crunch. Otherwise, you can store them in an airtight container and enjoy their chewier consistency and nuttier flavor later. Add your roasted chickpeas to soups, salads and even sandwiches to keep things interesting and add a dose of plant-based protein to your meals.
Snacking with a Smile
Once you whip up a few of these nutritious snacks, you’ll wonder why you didn’t nix the store-bought stuff sooner. Who knew making your own healthy, delicious guilt-free foods was so easy? Now, you can enjoy all your favorite flavors and satisfy your cravings without compromising your family’s health and happiness. Talk about guilt-free eating! You’ll never have to feel bad about indulging in these tasty treats.