With a little planning and a few minutes for assembly, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy healthy snacks on the job. The 110 fixings that follow go way beyond the standard carton of yogurt or energy bar, making it far less likely that you’ll be derailed by the donuts that show up at your desk. Even the options here that may seem like a splurge are acceptable because they’re small. So, when you pack your next snack, expand your options (not your waistline) and, yes, indulge!
There’s something about a skewer that makes food fun—and easy to eat on the run. Look for small bamboo skewers in the grocery store (if you can’t find them, cut the long ones into snack-size sticks). Here are 12 kabobs worth a try:
o Mini beef, turkey or meatless meatballs (use the microwave at work to heat before eating)
o Mini bocconcini (mozzarella balls) and cherry tomatoes; slip leaves of fresh basil in between
o Green and orange melon balls
o Dried figs and squares of manchego (Spanish) cheese or ham (or both!)
o Cubed chicken with red grapes
o Chunks of angel food cake and strawberries
o Chunks of bran muffin and orange slices
o Pickles and anchovy- or pimento-stuffed olives
o Leftover roasted potatoes (pack a dipping sauce of light mayo with dill or your favorite vinaigrette)
o Cucumber, pitted kalamata olives and squares of feta cheese
o Marinated artichoke hearts and marinated peppers
o Pineapple and leftover teriyaki chicken
o Mango and leftover shrimp
These days, the frozen and prepared food sections of most grocery stores offer a wealth of delicious snacks—many of them are billed as hors d’oeuvres, but they’re just as good between meals as before. Some may require a few minutes in the microwave, but no more effort than that. (If it’s a frozen snack, prepare as per package instructions while you’re getting ready for work, wrap in foil, then enjoy at room temperature later.) Some to look for:
o Mini tacos or taquitos
o Bite-size pizzas
o Chinese dumplings (shu mai) or pot stickers (gyoza)
o Wontons with soy or hoisin dipping sauce
o Mini crab cakes
o Cucumber and avocado sushi (if you go vegetarian, no need to worry about the fish going bad)
o Inari sushi (rice tucked into a tofu skin)
o Pierogis (Polish dumplings with potato filling, often with sauerkraut, ground meat, cheese or fruit)
o Little empanadas
o Bao (Asian buns filled with barbecue pork or chicken; wrap in damp paper towels and microwave them)
o Spanakopita (phyllo stuffed with feta cheese and spinach)
o Mini hot dogs in puff pastry (bring a little mustard for dipping)
o Mini quiches
o Chinese egg rolls or Vietnamese spring rolls
Wrap ’n’ roll
Cheese and crackers are always a standby duo—but why not try something new? Wrapping and rolling takes mere seconds, but makes break-time eats memorable.
o Thinly sliced roast beef wrapped around a seeded breadstick or grissino (skinny Italian breadstick)
o Ham wrapped around a “baby” cheese round
o Prosciutto wrapped around leftover asparagus stalks
o Thinly sliced turkey breast wrapped around a part-skim mozzarella stick
o Black forest ham wrapped around a cheddar stick
o Rice wrapped around salmon (To make this Japanese snack, wet your hands; scoop up a handful of warm, cooked Japanese-style rice; make a dent in the center; then add about a teaspoon of salmon—or any other filling like leftover chicken, tofu or broccoli. Form the rice into a ball and, if you like, wrap with strips of nori seaweed.)
o Roasted seaweed (available in snack-size containers at some supermarkets) wrapped around pre-seasoned tofu (also available in supermarkets, in the refrigerated section)
o Butter lettuce leaves wrapped around leftover Chinese food
o Bacon wrapped around dates (stuffed with cream cheese, if you like)
o Genoa salami rolled up with provolone cheese
o Smoked turkey rolled up with honey mustard
o Ham rolled up with cream cheese (sliced, they’re gorgeous pinwheels)
Between the (little) bread
Mini sandwiches, made with perfectly proportioned “bread,” are just-right packages to grab and eat when you have only a few minutes to spare. Here are scrumptious, out-of-the-ordinary ideas:
o Slices of cheddar and apple with whole-grain mustard on slider buns (tiny hamburger buns)
o Scrambled egg topped with prosciutto in a mini pita pocket
o Curried tuna (or chicken) salad mixed on a raisin mini muffin
o Sliced white meat turkey, avocado and cranberry chutney on whole grain crackers
o Ham on a cheddar scone
o Turkey with pesto (instead of mayo) on a biscuit
o Goat cheese and roasted cherry tomatoes on a mini baguette or baguette slices (toss the tomatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in a 425 degree F oven until caramelized, about 20 minutes)
o Chocolate-hazelnut spread and sliced bananas (or pear or strawberries) on a brioche
o Smoked salmon and cucumber with light cream cheese on appetizer-size pumpernickel bread
o Almond butter and jelly spread between mini rice cakes
o Tea sandwiches like cucumber and watercress with goat cheese; egg salad with bacon; cream cheese on date-nut bread
o Black bean and light jack cheese quesadilla made with mini tortillas
Skinny snacks (100 calories or less)
There’s a reason why so many food companies have created a 100-calorie snack pack: It’s just enough to keep you satisfied without adding extra pounds.
o 25 jelly beans
o 4 Hershey’s Kisses
o 25 pistachio nuts
o 2 licorice sticks
o 12 meringue minis
o 2 large graham cracker squares with 1 teaspoon peanut butter sandwiched in between
o 1½ cups unbuttered air-popped popcorn sprinkled with salt, lemon pepper and ½ tablespoon Parmesan cheese
o 1 cup blueberries, raspberries or strawberries
o ½ cup edamame beans
o Deviled egg made with light mayonnaise
o 1 cup tomato soup (made with water)
o 6 large shrimp with a squeeze of lemon
o 3 ounces cottage cheese (try a sprinkle of celery salt) with 3 whole wheat crackers
o 3 ounces deli turkey
o 1 packet instant oatmeal made with water (150 calories if you opt for the maple and brown sugar variety)
o 1 orange, sliced and marinated in ½ tablespoon orange juice, ½ tablespoon lemon juice, ½ teaspoon sugar and a pinch of cinnamon
Substitutions for old standbys
Even tried-and-true snacks like a carton of yogurt or a handful of almonds can get old if you have them day after day. Here are some tasty alternatives:
o If you’re sick of energy bars…try graham crackers with unsweetened applesauce.
o If you’re sick of raisins…try dried mango, pineapple or dates.
o If you’re sick of yogurt and fruit…try a smoothie made in a blender with vanilla yogurt, frozen peaches and a dash of cinnamon.
o If you’re sick of celery and peanut butter…try celery and spreadable cheese.
o If you’re sick of crackers and cheese…try crackers with mashed avocado.
o If you’re sick of a bagel and cream cheese…try a bagel with melted Parmesan (eat at room temp or reheat at work).
o If you’re sick of roasted peanuts or almonds…try pepitas (green pumpkin seeds) spiced with cayenne, cumin and chili powder.
o If you’re sick of traditional raisin, almond and peanut trail mix…try making yours with dried cherries, dried strawberries, pretzels, shelled pistachios and sunflower seeds.
o If you’re sick of potato chips (or wish you could have more, but don’t want the fat and calories)…try one of these variations:
- Beet crisps: Toss thinly sliced beets with canola or olive oil; salt lightly and bake at 350 degrees F until crisp, about 30 to 40 minutes.
- Sweet potato chips: Toss peeled, thinly sliced sweet potatoes with canola oil or olive oil; salt lightly and bake at 400 degrees F until crisp, about 20 to 25 minutes.
- Apple crisps: Toss thinly sliced Granny Smith apple with canola oil and a little light brown sugar; bake at 250 degrees F until crisp, about 45 to 60 minutes.
- Kale chips: Toss bite-size pieces of kale (center ribs removed, if large) with olive oil; salt lightly and bake at 425 degrees F until crisp, about 15 minutes.
Overhaul Your Snack Track
One way to see if your snacking has gotten out of hand is to write down everything you eat for three days. “Then turn the trained eye you use on your patients on yourself so you get a reality check,” says Nelson. “Make sure you eat before you go to work, then actually take your break and eat something decent, instead of spending the time charting then grabbing something from the vending machine.”