How to Choose a Crunchy Snack
Disclaimer: This is not medical or personalized nutrition advice, but general education. Discuss your own nutrition needs with your healthcare provider or qualified nutritionist.
How do you choose a snack?
Is it based on your mood? Craving? Nutrition content?
Snacks are kinda special, a meal-that’s-not-a-meal. They can easily turn into a meal if you aren’t paying attention! Below are a few of my most-loved snack options. I list the pros and cons (if any) so you can decide for yourself. I recommend that you try 1 or 2 new options this week in order to expand your taste buds and potentially find a new favorite!
Basic Water Cracker
Great for parties or snack trays when you’re going to layer with nutritious toppings! Use with avocado, sauerkraut, olives, goat cheese, peppers, capers, salmon, tuna salad, chicken salad, almond butter and apples, or really, whatever you want. These crackers have very little nutrition on their own and are not very tasty. They are wheat-based, so avoid if you have celiac, gluten/wheat sensitivity, constipation, or severe blood sugar fluctuations. Look for brands that have few ingredients and no preservatives.
Pretzel Crisps or Pretzels
Perfect for dipping in hummus, guacamole, tatziki, or baba ganoush. These tend to have a lot of salt and aren’t great if you have high blood pressure. They are also wheat-based, so avoid if you have celiac, gluten/wheat sensitivity, constipation, or severe blood sugar fluctuations. Look for brands that have few ingredients, lower sodium, and no preservatives.
These are usually wheat-based with added pumpkin, sunflower, and/or sesame seeds. The wheat makes this a very stable cracker that you can make into tostada-like snacks or meals, and they are more nutritious than plain crackers. Top with chickpea, chicken, or tuna salad, or make avocado toast with egg, black beans, and salsa. You can also do banana and nut butter for breakfast or a sweet snack. Look for gluten-free brands if you have celiac or digestive sensitivities, and spices and seeds rather than added flavors.
So simple and very nutrient-dense! Flax crackers are just flax, water, and spices that are spread onto a cookie sheet and dehydrated. Rich in ALA omega 3 and fiber, these crackers can be the foundation for a meal. Think dipped in guac or used as a base for nachos. Have a big glass of water on hand when you eat these, as the fiber may be constipating if you are not hydrated. The brand I like is Flackers, which are $5-$6. You can make these yourself for much less money. This recipe is a good place to start. If you purchase these at the store, buy ones that have visible seeds rather than a ground meal texture. This will indicate that the delicate fats are likely undamaged.
I love these! Nori seaweed is formed into small sheets that are then flavored and lined up like chips in a tray. Seaweed is rich in iodine, which is essential for thyroid and metabolism function. It also is a vegetable! So if you’re trying to increase your veggie intake, this is an easy (and tasty!) way to do that. These are delicious alone, but you can wrap them around rice and/or salmon, tear them up into stir-fry or soup, or shred them on your scrambled eggs. Look for brands that have little to no added oil, spices rather than flavors, and minimal added salt.
These are verrry crunchy, fun to add to salads and trail mix, and come in many different flavors. You can easily make them at home with this recipe. I like using curry/masala spices, nutritional yeast, or paprika/pepper/salt. As these are super high in fiber, you’ll want to drink a lot of water and avoid eating a large serving. If these cause gastrointestinal discomfort, try taking an enzyme beforehand or using a different recipe.
Toasted, crunchy leafy greens with spices! These may seem off-putting but I love them. They are really nutrient-dense and a great way to get some greens when you don’t want or can’t have a salad, or if you hate eating vegetables. This recipe is simple and easy, but time-consuming. If you’re on the run, purchasing is easier. Kale contains compounds which slow thyroid function, so I don’t recommend eating a bunch of these all the time if you tend toward or have diagnosed hypothyroid.
Let’s face it: chips are fried, and fried food is only beneficial for your soul. However, if you want a chip option that is less inflammatory, choose alternative veggie sources like sweet or red potatoes, beets, jicama, or radishes, and chips that are cooked with oils that can withstand high head (coconut or avocado). I really really like Jackson’s Honest sweet potato chips. You can also make your own and bake on a lower temp with olive oil. Slice them thinly to get them crispier. This link has a collection of different recipes.
Bet you never thought you’d eat a chip made out of beans! Similar in texture to corn tortilla chips but with much more fiber and protein, bean chips are a great substitute if you’re easing into a healthier eating routine and wanting something that feels like junk food. Beanitos offers various flavors and they are especially sturdy for nachos. They are also great for dipping in salsa, guac, spinach-artichoke, baba ganoush, tatziki, and hummus.
Plantain chips are slightly sweet and very satisfying if you’re craving something crunchy and carb-rich. When dehydrated and uncooked, these are rich in prebiotics. If you buy them at the store they are obviously cooked, so look for ones cooked in coconut or avocado oil. You can also use this recipe for cooked or this recipe for dehydrated.
Raw Vegetables and Fruits
This may seem obvious or not exactly what you wanted to hear, and that’s why I’m putting it at the end of the list. Haha! Vegetables and fruits are the most micronutrient-dense options and are a great way to bulk up your meal or snack without weighing your energy down. They also have a high water content and support hydration! There are tons of options, but a few that come to mind are thin-sliced radishes, carrots, and apples, or sticks made from celery, carrots, broccoli, or bell peppers. Try them all! Eat them plain, with nut butter, hummus, salsa, guac, hummus, etc. You can also buy pre-cut veggies at the store if you’re really short on time. Be sure to look closely at them. If they are slimy or in a tub of water, they can have accelerated bacteria growth and potentially make you sick. Choose a different option.
If you know of a fabulous crunchy snack, send the name my way and it might make it on this list!
Thanks for reading,