Snacking may even help you slim down. Studies have shown that people who don’t snack between meals may end up ingesting more calories overall. This may be because snacks can help control hunger and lead to choosing more reasonable portion sizes at mealtime. But make sure your snacks don’t exceed 100 to 200 calories, depending on your own personal daily caloric needs. And don’t fool yourself into thinking you can have more since it’s healthy. The truth is, we're lousy at estimating how many calories we're eating. In a Cornell University study, researchers gave movie-watching participants a bag of low-fat granola; half of the group received bags labeled “low-fat” and the other half’s bags were labeled “regular.” By the end of the film, those who believed they were downing a low-fat snack had consumed 50 percent more than the folks who thought they were eating a regular-fat version. The calorie difference? A total of 249 extra calories. So troubleshoot at the outset and don’t leave it to chance—portion out 100 to 200 calories’ worth of your snack into a bowl or a ziplock bag.
Homemade snacks definitely don’t have to be bland. In fact, spices like red pepper can be a boon to those trying to lose weight. In one study, adding red pepper to soup led to the consumption of fewer calories in subsequent meals. Spicy foods help slow down the eating process, giving you time to feel full before you consume too many calories. The hot pepper might even help you burn a few extra calories by heating up your body a bit, causing thermogenesis. And researchers in Taiwan found that capsaicin, the compound that gives red pepper its heat, might even be able to kill fat cells before they can fully develop.
Read on to see recipes for Chilli Tortilla Strips, Sweet-and-Sour Pickles, Garlic-Chilli Popcorn, and other healthy snack recipes.
If popcorn’s your favorite snack, you’re in luck; compared to other snacks, its bulk lets you feel fuller after eating fewer calories. In a study at the Laboratory for the Study of Human Ingestive Behavior at Penn State, visitors were served either crunchy cheese snacks or puffy cheese snacks. Those who ate the aerated, puffier snacks did eat nearly 75 percent more by volume, but they took in 20 percent fewer calories (though that's not an excuse to guestimate calories; check the label for serving size, or measure out appropriate serving sizes as mentioned above.)
Now that you’re schooled on the how-to’s of healthy snacking, it’s time to check out some homemade snack recipes from the Rodale Recipe Finder. From flavor-boosted chips, popcorn, and crunchy snack mix to rich and satisfying olives, pickles, and nuts, you’re sure to find a few new favorites, and plenty of variety to satisfy your snacking urge.
#1: Chili Tortilla Strips. Sometimes, nothing but the crunch of a chip will do. To satisfy the crave to crunch, make your own tortilla strips, cheesy pita crisps, or veggie chips made from either sweet potatoes or zucchini.
#3: Spicy Citrus-Spiked Olives. Satisfying and salty, olives are also a great source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. For another refrigerated snack, try pickling your own veggies and fruit, whether it’s Pickled Carrot and Mango Sticks or traditional pickles.
#4: Curried Snack Mix with Golden Raisins. The raisins in this spiced mix are full of potassium, while the nuts are a good source of magnesium. For other options featuring nuts and seeds, make chili-roasted peanuts or maple-toasted pumpkin seeds.