Story by Katelyn McAdams, TSET Healthy Living Program Specialist, OSU Prevention Programs
Having healthy snacks for work on-hand at the office is key for staying fueled and focused when you need it most. Whether you’re in the middle of a big project or you’re chained to your desk with a looming deadline, they’ll help keep your energy up and your blood sugar stable during an afternoon slump. Plus, if you’re prepared with your own healthy snacks you won’t be tempted by any unhealthy choices available at the office.
A solid snack should be less than 200 calories (so watch portion sizes), and make sure you’re getting protein and fiber to keep you satisfied until your next meal. Below are 13 healthy options you can keep right at your desk.
Seeds are a source of protein, and they’re easy to store, quiet, and not messy. Some favorites are pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.
Plain Oatmeal Packets
Oatmeal isn’t just for breakfast—stash it in your drawer for a hearty snack, too. “Packets of instant, plain oatmeal microwaved with water in a mug and sprinkled with cinnamon is a great cold-weather snack when you want something warm and filling,” says Katherine Younger, R.D. Just make sure you choose an unflavored option, as many others are loaded with extra sugars. You can also store a full canister of quick oats at your desk.
Walnuts, pecans, almonds and pistachios are great options. They deliver a great protein and fat combo.
Dried fruit can satisfy that mid-afternoon sweet tooth while tiding you over with filling fiber. Go for a few pieces of dried apricots or dates paired with raw nuts for a dose of healthy fat, too. Just make sure you consume in moderation to avoid over-doing it on the sugar (and avoid options with added sugars, too).
Nut butters like peanut butter and almond butter are tasty, versatile desk snacks—Kohn likes pairing it with an apple or banana. (Or, in a pinch, no judgement for just grabbing a spoonful from the jar). Kohn recommends sticking to one tablespoon, and as a general rule of thumb, the fewer ingredients, the better—be wary of added sugar and salt.
Crackers have gotten a bad rap, but there are some nutritious options out there to use as a vessel for your nut butter (or hummus or cheese, if you’ve got it in the fridge). A smart cracker has more than three grams of fiber and fewer than 150 calories, 1.5 grams of saturated fat and 180 milligrams of sodium per serving. Two that make the cut are Nabisco Triscuit Baked Whole Grain Wheat Dill Sea Salt & Olive Oil and Vans Fire-Roasted Veggie Crackers.
This portable snack can provide a major protein boost (just make sure you pick one that’s not loaded with sodium).
Make easy air-popped popcorn at the office by adding 1/4 cup of popcorn kernels to a microwave-safe bowl, then covering with a microwave-safe plate and popping it in for 2 minutes and 45 seconds. Stash seasonings like cinnamon, red pepper flakes, cumin, turmeric, or dried rosemary in your drawer to add flavor.
A low-sugar granola or cereal is a great dry snack—just make sure you portion it out, because calories can add up quickly if you’re mindlessly grabbing from the bag. Granola is also great when mixed with yogurt!
If you’re chained to your desk for lunch, personal-sized tuna packets and cans are a great stand-in snack to help hold you over. They’re filled with protein and healthy omega 3s. But, try sticking to one with 150 calories and 300mg of sodium or less, and opt for water-packed tuna (or one that doesn’t need draining at all). You can also whip up a quick and healthy tuna salad at your desk by bringing half of an avocado and some lime.
Cacao is a great source of magnesium, which is a natural stress-reliever and it can also help provide an energy boost. Try to always consume chocolate with 70 percent cacao or higher.
Whole Food Granola Bars
Granola bars are one of the easiest snacks around—just remember that they’re not all created equal. Tip: Go for bars with ingredients you can see and pronounce and watch the sugar content!
DIY Trail Mix
Can’t decide between these desk snack options? Toss several of them (like dried fruits, seeds, nuts, and even dark chocolate chips) into a DIY trail mix and portion it out into quarter-cup serving sizes. If you’re not the DIY type, create your own mix with over 150 options at Nuts.com and have it delivered to your office!
Cheers to a happy and healthy 2017!