Clean eating is a nutrition concept that promotes healthy eating. And when following a clean eating meal plan, you may need some ideas for clean eating snacks. Here are 15 Simple Clean Eating Snacks to Add to Your Day and help you stay on track!
What is clean eating?
Before we get to some ideas for clean eating snacks, what is clean eating? Clean eating does not refer to whether foods are “clean” versus “dirty”, but rather means “unprocessed” versus “processed”.
Unprocessed foods are foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, and fresh meat, fish, poultry, and dairy. Whereas processed foods are packaged and contain additional additives. Additives can be but are not limited to sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, preservatives, artificial colors, and artificial flavors.
Clean eating focuses on eating whole foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, nourishing foods, and more plant-based foods.
It is important to understand that clean eating is more of a philosophy or trend and does not have a clear definition or set of guidelines. For example, for some people following a clean eating philosophy, this may include reading ingredient labels and eating foods that only contain ingredients you can pronounce. While for others, eating a clean diet might be only eating organic foods, grass-fed meats and dairy, and avoiding genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
What are the benefits of clean eating?
The benefits of clean eating are numerous! When eating more whole foods and plant-based foods, many of these foods are nutrient-dense! This means they are loaded with vital nutrients such as vitamins and minerals to help our bodies stay healthy.
Clean eating can improve heart health, reduce your risk of cancer, improve your mood, improve digestion, improve memory, promote weight loss, manage blood glucose levels in those with diabetes, promote strong bones and teeth, improves sleep, and promotes healthy relationships.
Yes, that is right! It can improve relationships because eating more clean meals, typically means spending more time in the kitchen which allows for more time to spend with your family preparing meals together. And it also allows for more conversations at the table when eating more home-cooked meals.
What are the negatives of clean eating?
How can there be negatives of clean eating, you may be wondering. Well, clean eating sometimes can be taken to more of an extreme, causing restrictive or disordered eating. There also can be false claims that clean eating can “cure” health issues. Eating more nutritious foods helps to prevent certain health issues and also keeps certain conditions controlled. And while eating more whole foods is beneficial, nutrition and food should not cause fear and there can be a healthy balance without following an extremely restrictive diet.
15 Clean Eating Snacks
Ok, now that we understand the concept of clean eating and the possible pros and cons of clean eating, we can get to those tasty clean eating snacks.
Oranges are known for being high in vitamin C, but they are also a good source of fiber, thiamine, folate, potassium, and antioxidants. One large orange has over 4 grams of fiber, which promotes healthy digestion, improves cholesterol levels, and can promote weight loss! They provide over 100% of the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) for vitamin C, which is an immune booster. And potassium helps improve blood pressure levels.
2. Apple with natural peanut or another nut/seed butter
Apples have been a great choice for a snack for years! The old adage, “An apple a day, keeps the doctor away!” There may be some truth to this.
Apples are high in fiber and one medium apple has about 4.4 grams of fiber! The fiber comes from insoluble and soluble fiber and promotes healthy digestion and a feeling of fullness. And because apples are high in fiber and low in calories, they make a great snack if you are looking to lose or maintain your weight. And maintaining a healthy weight prevents many diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers.
3. Fruit salad
Fruit salad is great for a clean eating snack when you want a variety of flavors and fruits. Combine any fruits you like! I love a mix of melon, berries, and grapes. A mix of fruit will provide a variety of nutrients, is high in fiber, and makes a great snack on a hot day because it is hydrating due to the high amount of water.
4. Fresh strawberries
Strawberries make another great choice for a clean eating snack because they are an excellent source of vitamin C and manganese. They also have antioxidants that are beneficial for heart health and controlling blood sugars. One cup of sliced strawberries is only 54 calories, 3.3 grams of fiber, and has 162% of the RDI for vitamin C!
5. Raspberries with plain yogurt
Raspberries are a great option that is both high fiber and low in carbohydrates. One cup of raspberries has 15 grams of carbohydrates and 8 grams of fiber! They are also an excellent source of vitamin C. Raspberries are delicious on their own or added to yogurt.
Nutritional Benefits of Yogurt
Yogurt is rich in protein and depending on the type of yogurt, some have higher protein content than others. For example, Greek yogurt can have 15-20 grams of protein per serving, compared to 5-6 grams in regular yogurt. The high protein content in Greek yogurt will keep you fuller longer.
Yogurt is also high in calcium, phosphorus, B vitamins – riboflavin and B12. Yogurt is also one of the fermented foods that have been shown to have health benefits by promoting healthy gut microbiota, the healthy bacteria that live in your digestive tract. Fermented foods along with a plant-based diet including plenty of fruits and vegetables can prevent obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
6. Cucumber slices and hummus
Cucumbers are a great low-calorie snack with just 45 calories in one cucumber. While they may be low in calories, cucumbers are packed with nutrients. Cucumbers are an excellent source of vitamin K and a good source of vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, and manganese. Leaving the peel on will help maintain the nutrient value and fiber because some of the nutrients are found in the peel. Cucumbers are also hydrating because they are 96% water!
Hummus is made from chickpeas and chickpeas also have amazing benefits. The benefits are discussed below.
7. Bell peppers with guacamole
Another great clean eating snack is bell peppers! Bell peppers have vitamin C, B6, K, potassium, folate, vitamin E and A. There are also a variety of antioxidants like lutein which can improve eye health and quercetin which can prevent certain diseases such as heart disease and cancer.
And bell peppers go well with guacamole! They make a great low-carb, clean alternative to chips. And of course, guacamole is made from avocados which have amazing health benefits. Continue reading to learn about the health benefits of avocados which are discussed below.
8. Small salad with vinegar and oil
Same as with fruit salad, having a garden salad is a great way to incorporate a variety of vegetables. A small salad can include a type of green such as romaine lettuce or spinach, red onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, or bell peppers. And simply adding your favorite type of vinegar and oil, makes it a great clean eating snack.
Nuts and Nut Butters
9. Unsalted almonds
Almonds make a great snack because they promote fullness from their high fiber and protein content, as well as being a good source of healthy fats. One ounce of almonds provides 6.1 grams of carbohydrates, 3.5 grams of fiber, 6 grams of protein, and provides 22% of the daily value for fat, mostly monounsaturated which are heart-healthy. Almonds also have 37% of the daily value for vitamin E, which is an antioxidant.
10. Celery and natural peanut butter
Celery does contain a lot of water, but it is also a good source of fiber and is low in calories. One cup of chopped celery has only 14 calories and 3 grams of carbohydrates but has 1.6 grams of fiber. Celery can be eaten as a snack or added to a variety of recipes. Natural peanut butter is an excellent source of protein and monounsaturated fats, which help promote satiety. And peanuts are actually a legume, not a nut!
11. Peanut Butter Oat Energy Balls
These peanut butter oat energy balls from Eating Well are a great source of protein and fiber. Medjool dates, rolled oats, natural peanut butter, and chia seeds make up the ingredients in this delicious snack!
First, you soak the dates in a small bowl of hot water for 5 to 10 minutes. Then drain. Then combine the soaked dates, oats, and peanut butter in a food processor. Process until the mixture is finely chopped. Then roll into 12 balls. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes, then enjoy!
Whole Grains and Legumes
Whole grains are the seeds of grass-like plants called cereals. They contain 3 parts, the bran, endosperm, and germ, whereas refined grains have the germ and bran removed, leaving the endosperm, and losing many of the nutrients including fiber. However, some vitamins and minerals are added back.
Nutritional Benefits of Whole Grains
Some examples of whole grains are oatmeal, popcorn, quinoa, brown rice, whole rye, wild rice, wheat berry, bulgur, and barley. Whole grains are high in fiber, B vitamins, zinc, iron, magnesium, protein, and antioxidants. The exact amount of nutrients will vary on the type of grain.
Legumes are from the Fabaceae family and include the leaves, stems, and pods. A pulse is the edible seed from the legume plant and includes beans, lentils, and peas. There are a variety of beans such as black beans, pinto, and chickpeas.
Nutritional Benefits of Legumes
Legumes and pulses are high in protein, folate, fiber, iron, phosphorus, and polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids. The nutrients in legumes help to prevent cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity and can help promote healthy digestion.
12. Avocado Toast
This became an extremely popular breakfast option a few years ago, but it is still a great one. Toasted 100% whole grain or sprouted bread with mashed avocados is a delicious and satisfying breakfast. And you can have additional toppings for more flavor and nutrients such as chopped tomatoes, a fried egg, sauces like pesto or chimichurri, or herbs like cilantro or basil.
Nutrition Benefits of Avocados
Avocados have become increasingly popular over the recent years partly due to their deliciousness, but also because of their nutrient density! One serving of avocado, which is one-fifth of an avocado has 3 grams of fiber, 6 grams of healthy fats. They are also a great source of vitamins C, E, K, B6, and folate and an excellent source of magnesium and potassium.
The healthy fats in avocados are monounsaturated fats which help to reduce inflammation. Avocado’s high fiber content also helps with digestion. The combination of healthy fats and fiber helps with satiety (feeling of fullness) and may promote weight loss.
13. Roasted Chickpeas
Here is how to make roasted chickpeas: you will need 2 cups of canned chickpeas (rinsed and drained), 3 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp sea salt, ½ tsp of ground black pepper. Combine all the ingredients and spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 to 40 minutes stirring every 10 minutes.
Nutritional Benefits of Chickpeas
Chickpeas or garbanzo beans are a legume as mentioned previously. They contain a resistant starch called amylose, which digests slowly. Resistant starch can improve blood sugars in people with type 2 diabetes.
Eggs are nutrient-dense! One egg has only 75 calories, 7 grams of protein, and 5 grams of fat. They also contain carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin which help fight diseases such as macular degeneration. Egg yolks also contain choline which helps with brain development and memory.
14. Hard-boiled eggs
Hard-boiled eggs are one of my favorite clean eating snacks. The high protein content keeps me full for a few hours. And, it is easy to make 5-6 eggs ahead of time and keep them in the refrigerator for when I am ready for a snack.
15. Mini Egg Frittatas
I love mini egg frittatas because they are a healthy, portion-controlled version of a frittata. You can make them with any type of vegetables you like. I like adding onions, red bell pepper, and spinach.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line each muffin tin with muffin paper cups.
- Add 1 tsp of oil to a pan and sauté the onions and bell pepper for 5 minutes. Set aside.
- Then in a medium bowl, whisk together 5 eggs, ½ tsp of salt (optional), ¼ tsp of black pepper.
- Add the bell pepper and onions to the egg mixture along with 2 cups of chopped fresh spinach.
- Pour the egg mixture into the muffin cups, filling until 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes or until the centers are firm.
Recipe adapted from Diabetes Food Hub
Clean eating can be a way to improve your overall health. Also, adding clean eating snacks to your day can help keep you full longer in between meals.
What are some of your favorite clean eating snacks? Leave your favorite clean eating snacks in the comments below!
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