Eating clean usually involves a lot of cooking from scratch from raw, natural ingredients. Snacks, by definition, tend to be quick fix-me-ups. Super processed. Usually laden with salt and/sugar because we need a treat or a little pick-up. And with so many unhealthy, but convenient options available out there, it might seem that snacks just cannot be clean, right?
Well actually, there’s plethora of snacks out there that are quick, easy, clean, and delicious. Read on for a few clean eating snacks ideas. For those last-minute lunchboxes. Or those no-time-let’s-skip-lunch moments. Or simply for those time of the day when one needs a little help pushing on.
Ready-to-go clean snacks
Perfect for the kids’ lunchboxes. These come straight out of your pantry or fridge. So if you get into a habit of stocking up on them, you’ll never be caught out when you need to grab something and go.
They’re ultimate portable snacks for a quick fix. A lot of them come already wrapped in their own natural packaging to protect their vitamins and nutrients. Remember to pick them carefully in the shops (check this post to know which ones should be organic) and store them properly (more tips on this here). And wash them before eating.
If chopped in the morning and carried in a box, make sure you eat them early in the day to make the most of their nutrients.
Perfect for that sweet craving, without the guilt trip or sugar crash. Favor the ones where you’ll eat the skin as well. The skin usually contains a lot of nutrients and the extra fibers will balance the sugar out.
Less bulky and messy than their fresh counterpart, dried fruits are easy to grab and will hit the spot when you need a boost of energy. Be careful when choosing them though, some of them contain added sulfites, sugar, flavorings, anticaking agents etc.
Buy them organic if you can, as you can’t wash them or peel them to remove the pesticide residues.
No thanks, I hear you say. But some vegetables are just nice and satisfying raw and plain. Think about baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, baby corns or mange-tout. My nephew enjoys raw green beans in his lunchbox. I have a thing for raw sweet potato. Find what works for you and enjoy.
And if it is the ‘plain’ part that doesn’t tickle your fancy, try teaming them up with dips (see below) in a small container. I find the soy sauce containers from sushi to take-away to be a perfect size.
Nuts and seeds
These are perfect to tame hunger pangs, as their healthy fat will provide you with steady energy and keep you full for a while. Nuts contain a variety of nutrients (vitamin E and magnesium for almonds and hazelnuts, omega 3 for walnuts, selenium for brazil nuts etc.). Feel free to swap and change to avoid boredom and get a good balance of vitamins and minerals.
Even better, use your organic dried fruits above to make your own trail mix!
No-bake snacks ideas
These suggestions are for when you don’t have time to sit and wait for something to cook but have a little bit more time on your hands. Most of them involve a food processor or a high-speed blender. At this stage, think about increasing the quantities so you don’t have to prepare those snacks every time you want them. Those extra portions then turn into “on-the-go” snacks. And you’re saving time and electricity in the process. Win-win.
They only take minutes to make and are great with fresh veggies or a hard-boiled egg. Humus, tzatziki, mayonnaise, salsa sauce, just to name a few, are all easy to whip up and are sure to hit the spot. Make a batch for the week and keep it in the fridge.
The beauty of them is that, from a basic recipe, you can add your own ingredients and spices to create your very own favorites.
Nut (and seed) butter
Same principle, different basic ingredients. Nut butter is dead easy to make if you have a decent food processor and go a long way towards keeping you going, thanks to the healthy fats. To get a smooth consistency though, they need to be blended/pulsed for a few minutes.
For something indulgent, think about adding cocoa and honey to a hazelnut spread. Or honey and cinnamon to your walnut or almond butter.
If you want to buy them already prepared, aim for the ones where nothing has been added, no sugar, salt, or emulsifier.
Usually made with only a few ingredients, these come in sweet or savory flavors and simply rich and delicious. The basic recipe is super easy: measure your ingredients, pop them in your food processor or high-speed blender and blitz until you get the desired consistency. Shape them into balls and roll them in a dry ingredient to stop them from sticking, like cocoa, shredded coconut, paprika etc.
They are usually best kept in the fridge as they make use of healthy fat as the binding ingredient. But they’ll keep well, so it’s worth preparing a larger batch ahead of time.
Great for lunchboxes, and picnics too.
Smoothies & Juices
The principle is the same, i.e. pour all your ingredients in your food processor and blend until smooth. But you’ll be aiming for a drink. Which also means that there will be water or milk involved and your snack will not keep long.
These are best prepared at the last minute, to preserve the vitamins and nutrients, and are not so portable. On the plus side, the basic recipes are flexible, and you can pretty much add anything you fancy in there.
These are snacks involving very little preparation, but you need to allow a bit of time for cooking.
Roasted nuts, seeds, and peas
OK, we’ve covered the plain variety earlier on, but it’s easy to add some flavor to nuts and seeds.
You can try sweet praline nuts in a slow cooker, spicy smoked nuts in the oven or roasted chickpeas for a change.
Standard chips involve a lot of processing, primarily because they use refined starches as a base. By using vegetables, you remove a lot of the processes, while still getting the flavor and the crunch. What’s not to love?
Kale chips are a staple, but why not try bell pepper chips, plantain chips, or sweet potato crisps?
The traditional beef jerky uses few ingredients and not too many processes and is a nice addition to the clean snack family. Beware of jerky made from shredded and reformed meat, often laden with additives and preservatives.
Alternatively, you can make your own, thus controlling precisely the ingredients. Once prepared, the beef jerky will keep for several weeks without refrigeration. The perfect on-the-go snack for a protein boost.
More indulgent snacks, for when you have the time
There are many other snacks out there, requiring a little more preparation and cooking time. I’ll just mention a few that I particularly favor.
I personally like to turn family dishes into snacks. So, when making a crust-less quiche, I’ll double the quantities and cook half in cupcake molds. You end up with the most perfect mini-quiches for the kids’ lunchboxes or for picnics.
I happily do the same with most other dishes, to be honest. It’s a great way to use left-overs: chop all your odds and sods, scoop them into silicone cupcake molds and cover them with beaten egg and seasoning. The unusual flavors created are usually delicious, but on the downside, they’re almost impossible to recreate!
These are easy to make at home and can be as sweet or as savory as you wish. You can hide grated carrots, onions, greens, zucchini or most other vegetables for a moist, super healthy snack without the sugar load.
They will keep well in the fridge, can be frozen and are very portable. Well worth a little time spent in the kitchen.
These are just a few pointers…
… and I’m sure there are loads more simple and delicious clean snacks out there. If you were ever tempted to go for highly-processed, additive-laden snacks to go through your day, I hope you’ve found one or two suggestions that might just work for you and your taste buds.
And if you do have any other go-to clean snacks I haven’t mentioned, feel free to add a Comment below to share the goodness with everybody.
To read further:
Not sure where to get started with clean grocery shopping? This post will point you in the right direction.
And if you need ideas to get you going, check these posts:
- 12 clean eating breakfast ideas
- Clean eating lunch ideas – at work, at school, and at home
- And some clean eating dinner ideas, to round the day up!