various types of nuts in individual containers

Eating between meals need not be a diet no-no — if you choose your snacks wisely. Instead, when you need a quick energy zap or when you feel hungry, healthy snacking can help to keep your energy levels up without piling on added calories. The trick? Add nutrients while controlling the calories.

A rule of thumb is to choose snacks that are less than 200 calories. Look for snacks that are rich in nutrients, for example, packed with fibre that can help improve your digestion etc. You can also keep an eye out for snacks with the Healthier Choice Symbol (HCS) where there are two types of snack. The average HCS snack (ice cream) has about 200 calories while the smaller HCS snacks (crisps/chips) weigh in at 100 calories.

healthier choice symbols

Steer clear of less nutritious options, like sugar-laden drinks and snacks, or food that is fried or packed with fats. You can also spice up your snacks by eating with friends and sharing the calories along the way.

Another idea is to pair your food — whether having a fruit or vegetable with a protein snack or having a dairy snack with a fruit. For instance, your snack of cucumber slices will look much more delectable accompanied by a small wedge of low fat cheese. Other ideas include teaming grapes with a slice of turkey or ham, carrots with hummus, or strawberries with low fat yoghurt.

Some appetising but healthy snack ideas include the following:

1. Flavourful Fruit and Veg

a cup of fresh fruit frozen in a popsicle

Fruit and vegetables are chock-full of nutritional benefits and are some of the simplest, low-calorie snacks available. Try these ideas:

  • Vitamin-packed smoothies, where you blend your fruit or/and vegetable with some liquid like low fat milk or ice.

  • Fruit ice lollies can be made by freezing a smoothie mixture with ice-cream sticks in it. Add chunks of fruit like blueberries, or chopped fruit for greater texture.

  • Frozen fruit can be a refreshing option and you can experiment to see which fruit you enjoy frozen or slightly thawed. While most fruit taste great frozen, deep-freeze grapes taste like a delicious sorbet and frozen bananas without their skin can be put into a food processor to get texture like ice cream.

100-calorie snacks

Calories

Vegetable sticks like carrot, cucumber, capsicum or celery, or ½ cup steamed corn

25 calories per serving

Fresh fruit like banana, an apple, pear, and a wedge of papaya or 12 grapes

70 calories per serving

½ cup of edamame beans, boiled or steamed

98 calories

Tip: Instead of a single fruit, make a fruit salad from several fruits to add variety in taste, texture and colour. An additional tip is to add some lime juice, and low fat yogurt for an even tastier treat. Remember to eat 2 servings of fruit and 2 servings of vegetables each day.

Related: More Fibre for a Fit and Fabulous You

2. Healthy and Easy Packaged Snacks

close up of the nutrition label on a packaged snack

Packaged snacks may be the ultimate in convenience, but are not always healthy. There are however healthy options, like the following:

Less than 100-calorie snacks

Calories

4 pieces of rice crackers

55 calories

2 cups or 20 g of popcorn that is unsalted and unsweetened

75 calories

3 tablespoons or 50g of unsweetened dried fruit or vegetable

80 calories

1 chocolate chip cookie that weighs 20g

88 calories

1 pack of HCS chips or crisps

Less than 100 calories


Less than 200-calorie snacks

Calories

3 pieces or 30g of HCS biscuits

140 calories

4 squares or 30g of chocolate

160 calories

3 tablespoons or 50g of sweetened dried fruit

160 calories

14 pieces or 50g of fruit chips

198 calories

Tip: Choose low-salt and oven baked chips, dried seaweed with low salt and cereals with low sugar content.

Related: Guilt-Free Homemade Treats

3. Mouth-watering Mini Meals

vegetables thinly wrapped in pastry

Fight off hunger with these delicious and  healthy options that will satisfy both your hunger pangs and tastebuds:

  • Sushi;

  • Soon kueh;

  • Vietnamese fresh spring rolls;

  • Popiah;

  • Cheese or canned tuna on whole-wheat crackers; or

  • 2 egg whites on a slice of toast;

  • Seeds like pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds.

100-calorie snacks

Calories

1 hard-boiled egg

75 calories

½ cup or 150g low-fat yoghurt

88 calories


200-calorie snacks

Calories

1 piece of pancake with cheese filling

197 calories

¼ cup or 40g nuts

180 calories

Tip: Choose non-fried snacks that are filled with vegetables. Another tip is to sweeten yoghurt with low-calorie options like dried fruit, and eat nuts with dried fruit.

Related: Cutting Calories Without Going Hungry

4. Drink to Your Health

sliced orange and a cup of orange juice

Ditch those sugar-loaded drinks and opt for healthy juices, smoothies and beverages to keep you energised and healthy. Try some of the following drinks that pack a nutritious and tasty punch:

  • Smoothie*;

  • 1 cup of low-fat milk, or

  • 1 cup of soya bean milk or a bowl of soya bean custard.

200-calorie drinks

Calories

1 cup or 250ml low fat yoghurt drink

120 calories

1 cup or 250ml fruit juice* with no added sugar

120 calories

* not more than one cup per day.

Tip: Ask for less sugar to reduce the calorie count. Also, when making a smoothie, give it a nutrient boost by working with a liquid base and adding fruit like bananas, melons, berries or vegetables like spinach and kale, and even flaxseeds or wheatgerm.

So try these healthy snacks that do not compromise on taste. At 200 calories or less, you can nibble away guilt-free and keep the hunger pangs at bay till your next meal!

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