If I had a nickel for every time second-class snackage was to blame for "X" health consequence in one of my private consults...I'd be typing this from the rolling hills of Tuscany - with a cobblestone village view and a glistening vineyard in the distance, sending the sweet scents of summer rosé my way.
But listen here, fam. I'm not. Oh, no.
Instead, I reside in my cold, dark office space, with a glass of luke-warm water I poured 8 hours ago by my side, and the subtle screeches of my 2 year-old demanding to get naked in order to eat her toaster waffle.
As one does.
I'm not sure how one even stumbles upon such a lucrative contract as to receive five whole cents so often, but the fantasy alone has more than piqued my interest. Because the truth is, I get asked about healthy snacks more than any other single topic as a Dietitian. And for a good reason.
We live in a society that praises self-discipline and impulse control. After all, with vending machines down every hallway, fast food restaurants on every street corner, and candy at every check stand in the country, much of our ability to stay well depends on a healthy capacity for impulse rejection. But here's where all that black and white thinking gets us into trouble.
Snacks not only hold the power to tempt, frustrate and derail us, but also to satisfy, support our wellness goals, and even improve our relationship to food too.
When it comes to wellness, intuitive eating is the gold standard. And since honoring your hunger is one of the most critical components of intuitive eating (a food philosophy proven to reduce the risk for diet-related chronic diseases, excessive weight gain, binge eating, and the development of eating disorders) - remaining satiated is the critical to success.
And sure, some folks can get by on three square meals a day with zero desire to deviate. But if we're being honest with ourselves - most of us aren't them.
And between the varying caloric demands of our body from day-to-day, season-to-season, workout versus rest days, anxiety, boredom, heart hunger, brunch, break ups, late shifts, travel days and hectic schedules all at play, it pays to know how to snack well when you need to.
So let's dive right into it. Here are our goals when it comes to snacks that satisfy.
Benchmarks to Shoot For in a Nutritious Snack:
A decent source of protein (ideally 3+ grams)
Minimal added sugar (6 or less grams)
Dietary fiber (at least 2-3 grams per serving)
Low in sodium (200mg or less per serving)
A health-promoting fatty acid profile (0g trans fat, <2g saturated fats, + healthy nuts & seeds)
Soul-satisfying, easy to pack, and not going to go full Nature Valley crumb-storm all over your keyboard.
Now, that’s not to say every suggestion below perfectly reaches each of these goals, however these benchmarks do provide a solid framework with which to analyze the overall quality of any individual snack.
Without further delay...
Protein-Rich, Office-Friendly Snacks for a Better Work Week:
Let's begin with the obvious, "Dip-able Duo's".
Carrots & Hummus (or Tahini)
Strawberries & Yogurt (or Cashew Butter)
Apple (or Banana) & Almond Butter
Celery & Peanut Butter
Bell Pepper & Guacamole
As well as any combination, extension, or embellishment of the five.
For example, I love dipping strawberries in oat milk yogurt with activated buckwheat and hemp hearts in it for added flavor, crunch, and protein. Or mixing up my hummus selection by opting for products that use other varieties of beans, or simply choosing fun and creative flavors like buffalo ranch or smoked chipotle.
I also love mixing some dried dill, onion powder, salt and pepper into plain tahini before packaging it up in a mason jar with some veggie sticks to make for a dairy-free ranch-dip snack on the go. Bitchin' Sauce is another incredible brand for savory, flavor-packed almond-based dips. And brands like Justin's, NuttZo, Sabra, and Wholly Guacamole make packing single servings of nut-butter, hummus and guacamole a breeze by selling individuals squeeze pouches and cups, easy to toss in your bag with a piece of fruit or sliced veggies for dipping.
Moving on from the more basic fruit/veg + dip combos...
6. Brami Snacking Beans This product is seriously a convenience super-snack. Loaded with protein and fiber, fermented, and free of any preservatives or processed fats - these marinated snacking beans are the perfect hunger-crushing handful.
7. Steamed Edamame I get it. Microwaving some edamame, sprinkling with sea salt and stashing them in your office fridge for later may not be how you're used to tackling those 3pm hunger pangs. But at 10 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber and none of the addictive, hyperpalatable food additives per serving, this hack is worth stepping outside your comfort zone for. Seapoint Farm's makes great dry roasted edamame snacks too, for a more convenient (but slightly less filling, due to lower water content) option.
8. Crispy Roasted Chickpeas Whether store bought, or made using simple homemade recipes like this one, crispy roasted chickpeas are the perfect way to combine the protein and fiber naturally found in legumes, with the salty, crunchy snack-time flavors we all know and crave. They make for incredible soup and salad toppings too - but who am I to jump ahead to meal-times?!
9. Homemade Energy Bites
Energy-bites, also known as "cookie-dough bites", fall on the denser side of the snack kingdom, making them the perfect treat to reach for if you're on a serious time crunch. They are also the snacks I tend to recommend for my clients working busier jobs like nursing, where snacks are largely unrealistic unless able to be gobbled down in a single bite or two. My favorites to prep ahead of a busy week are my Chocolate Chip Sunbutter Cookie Dough Bites, but there's also great recipes available for Healthy Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Bites, Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Bites, and many more.
10. Garden Of Life Fit Bars These are one of the few protein bars I actually stand by and recommend regularly. Why? They're packed with 14 grams of organic plant protein, another 13-14 grams of prebiotic fiber and extremely low-glycemic. You can find these in a variety of flavors both on Garden of Life's website or at a 20% discount via my online wellness dispensary.
11. Phyter Bars Think about carrot cake, but made from sweet potato, coconut flakes & almond butter. Or a fudgy chocolate brownie, but packed with fresh beets and pumpkin seeds. That's what this brand is all about. In fact, Phyter is the only snack bar on the market with organic produce (always listed as the first ingredient) so fresh, the product actually requires refrigeration. I don't know about you, but that's a diva request I'm thrilled to accommodate.
12. Nugo Slim Protein Bars
Again. Anything with 16 grams of plant-based protein, 6 grams of fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and zero palm oil is a unicorn in the packaged food world. But don't get me wrong, the crunchy peanut butter and chocolate mint flavors have me pretty amped about this product too. These bars are more heavily processed however, so I like to include some homemade fruit and veg-heavy snacks throughout the week in addition to the occasional convenience king like these.
13. Trail Mix Again, this one is obvious. But sometimes it can be tempting to fall prey week after week to the office breakroom's chocolate chip, peanut, and yogurt-covered pretzel mixture, and lose sight of what actually makes trail mix healthy and satiating in the first place. While raw or lightly toasted nuts and seeds pair perfectly with dried fruit to satisfy the caloric demands of our bodies, we need to keep in mind that stomachs like to be stretched full of fiber and water to feel satisfied, too. So in order to satisfy both the density and stretch receptors of the stomach (without having to consume 1200 calories worth of cashews and dried cranberries), I recommend pairing a simple trail mix blend like this one with a whole fruit or vegetable of some kind (such as a pear, sliced cucumber sticks or some fresh cantaloupe).
14. Hearty Breads & Pastries
Cookies and sweet breads get a bad rap in the snack department. But what if they're made with ingredients healthier than 90% of the protein bars out there? Rather than demonize these delicious treats, I prefer to choose ingredients rich in protein and fiber, as well as cut back on the processed fats and sugary add-ins, in order to achieve the best of both worlds. Delicious and wholesome. Nostalgic and energizing.
15. High-Protein Pudding & Yogurt Alternatives
Plant-based yogurts are notoriously low in protein (and high in sugar), so I make a point to seek out those few brands that challenge the status quo and formulate balanced, high-quality products. As I linked above in the Dip-able Duo's section, Nancy's Oat Milk is a favorite of mine. I also love Silk's Almondmilk Yogurt and Siggi's Plant-Based Yogurt too. Whenever possible, I like to purchase plain, unsweetened varieties and add my own jam, fresh fruit and/or muesli to sweeten to my liking - but flavored is a great choice (and a convenient one!) too. I also love making homemade vegan chocolate mousse and layering it into a mason jar with some raspberries and coconut flakes for snacking. You'd be surprised how filling a healthy pudding recipe can be!
16. Well-Balanced Smoothies Every time my family makes a smoothie in the morning, I always like to make some extra to have as a snack the next day. My favorite way to ensure a smoothie can transform into a satisfying snack is to make sure to include fruits, veggies, protein, and healthy fats in the smoothie itself, as well as sprinkle some kind of starchy granola or muesli on top for satiety and crunch. I like to save some of my Green Machine Smoothie as a base and pack it in a mason jar with a dollop of nut butter and rolled oats (or granola, buckwheat seeds, or muesli) to top.
17. Oatmeal & Overnight Oats
I know it may seem a little weird to eat something so firmly engrained in our minds as a breakfast food for a snack. But homemade overnight oats recipes, instant oatmeal packets like this one, and overnight oats products like Mush are the ultimate blood sugar fix. Slow to digest, rich in fiber and with plenty of protein too? Keep a spoon handy and kiss that 3pm slump goodbye. Prepping some chia seed pudding to bring throughout the week is another fantastic option here as well.
18. Whole Grain Breads & Spreads I don't know about you, but a slice of whole grain anything and a hearty spread to top it with goes a long way in my book. Whether it's Dave's bread topped with maple almond butter and sliced banana, a whole-grain toaster waffle smothered with peanut butter, or a few brown rice cakes loaded with mashed avocado and hemp seeds...the starch + fat + protein combo plays to win.
19. Dehydrated Veggie Chips I love how creative brands have gotten in the last several years in an effort to make vegetables the easy, palatable choice. And while these dehydrated veggies may lack the hydration and fiber our bodies expect when eating the rainbow, they also make for a delicious alternative to some of the more heavily processed chips out there on the market. I love to pair these with marinated snacking beans or hummus in order to add back in some of that missing fiber and hydration, but they're delicious on their own as well!
20. Whole-Grain Crackers
Cutting right to the chase with this one, here are some brands crafting wholesome crackers I adore and purchase for my own family regularly: Mary’s Gone Crackers, Simple Mills Almond-Flour Crackers, Hu Grain-Free Crackers, From the Ground Up Cauliflower Crackers, Saffron Road Baked Lentil Crackers, Flackers Flax Seed Crackers, Back To Nature Crackers, and more. Perfect to pair with beet hummus, baba ganoush, dairy-free spinach artichoke dip, vegan caramelized onion dip, or your favorite veggie-based spread of choice.
21. Legume-Based Chips & Puffs
This is where things get fun and interesting, as legume-based snack development has absolutely exploded in the last five years with new products continuing to hit the market with each new month. Some of my personal favorite brands in this department include Hippeas Organic Chickpea Snacks, Beanfield's Vegan Cracklins, Enjoy Life Lentil Chips, IWON's Organic Protein Snacks, and Spudsy Sweet Potato Puffs. Because these lack the water content of less-processed fruit and vegetable-based snacks, I like to pair a few handfuls of these with some cucumber spears, cherry tomatoes, red bell pepper slices or whatever fruit I have on hand.
I hope you found this list to be a valuable resource for some office-friendly snacks to incorporate for satiety, increased energy, and the micro- and macronutrients our bodies' demand between meal times.
The majority of these products can be found in top grocery chains or health-food markets (like Whole Foods, Sprouts, etc.) nationwide, if not deliverable via online retailers such as Amazon or Thrive Market.
Of course I’ve compiled my favorite plant-based purchases here, since my audience is predominantly plant-focused. But for more recommendations on omnivorous snacks, or snacks to support relief from certain chronic conditions, symptoms, or other ailments - please don’t hesitate to reach out one-on-one. I would love to speak further about your specific wellness goals and formulate resources and recommendations with your distinct needs in mind.
Cheers & until next time!
This post was written & medically reviewed by a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.
Grace Pascale, MS, RDN. Grace Pascale Nutrition.