Best low-cal snacks: Shape readers share their 7 favorite recipes and ideas for healthy treats
You’re diligent about planning healthy, lowfat meals, but don’t you sometimes miss those guilty pleasures–ice cream, cookies and chips? Eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to forgo treats, say nutrition experts. “Food is one of life’s greatest pleasures because it stimulates all of our senses,” says Tampa, Fla.-based Cynthia Sass, M.A., R.D., co-author of Your Diet is Driving Me Crazy: When Food Conflicts Get in the Way of Your Love Life (Marlowe & Co., 2004). “Having one food every day that you savor and enjoy helps you maintain a positive attitude about your overall diet.”
We agree, so we asked you to tell us how you’ve made your favorite snacks more healthful. Here are the top seven picks plus nutrition experts’ take on why these are nutritional winners.
Chocoholic’s choice: chocolate-dipped strawberries
“The chocolate syrup satisfies my craving for chocolate, and the
strawberries are packed with vitamins and fiber, helping me reach my
goal of five servings of fruit a day.”
–Jing Jin, Elmhurst, N.Y.
To prepare Dip 8 strawberries in 2 tablespoons of chocolate syrup and chill.
Nutrition score per serving (8 large strawberries and 2 tablespoons fat-free chocolate syrup): 143 calories, 3% fat (0.5 g; 0 g saturated), 93% carbs (33 g), 4% protein (1 g), 4 g fiber, 20 mg calcium, 1 mg iron, 26 mg sodium.
The nutritionist says “This is a nearly fat-free way to satisfy a chocolate craving,” raves Kim Galeaz, R.D., an Indianapolis-based nutritionist. Sass adds, “If you melt dark chocolate chips and dip the berries in them, you’ll also get an antioxidant boost.”
Lemony lick: nonfat yogurt “ice cream” pop
“I discovered these pops while sitting by the pool during my honeymoon
at a Caribbean resort. These pops would cool us off and provide a tasty
snack. I’ve also made them with cranberry juice, and it works just as
–Lynne Smith Obiala, Chicago
To prepare Combine 16 ounces of plain, nonfat yogurt and 8 ounces of frozen lemonade concentrate, pour into 6 pop molds and freeze.
Nutrition score per serving (1 pop): 111 calories, O fat, 83% carbs (23 g), 17% protein (5 g), trace fiber, 153 mg calcium, 0.34 mg iron, 60 mg sodium.
The nutritionist says “The yogurt delivers the calcium of ice cream without all the fat,” says Suki Hertz, M.S., R.D., New York City-based nutritionist for the Food Network. “Although the lemonade concentrate adds a refreshing flavor, it doesn’t supply a lot of nutrients. For extra vitamin C, add fresh fruit or a squeeze of lemon juice to the mix before freezing.”
Die-for dessert: no-bake pumpkin pie
“I love pumpkin pie, but it can be fattening, so I came up with this
healthier version. Not only does it satisfy my sweet tooth, but it’s
also a great way to add calcium to my diet!”
–Lindsey Marcus, Larchmont, N.Y.
To prepare Combine 1 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin puree and 1 3.9-ounce package of instant, fat-free vanilla pudding mix; slowly stir in 2 cups of nonfat milk, a dash of cinnamon, nutmeg and no-calorie sweetener to taste. Pour into a lowfat prepared graham cracker crust and chill for at least 30 minutes, then top with 6 tablespoons fat-free whipped topping.
Nutrition score per serving (1/6 of pie): 247 calories, 26% fat (7 g; 1.5 g saturated), 66% carbs (41 g), 8% protein (5 g), 1.5 g fiber, 121 mg calcium, 1 mg iron, 403 mg sodium.
The nutritionist says “A cup of canned pumpkin has great quantities of vitamins A and C, potassium and fiber for only 83 calories,” Hertz says. “Plus, adding pudding and milk will thicken the pumpkin without the saturated fat and cholesterol found in whipping cream and eggs in the traditional pumpkin pie recipe.”
Cinnamony snack: sweet and spicy microwave apple
“Warm apple pie topped with vanilla ice cream is one of my all-time
favorite treats. This substitute recipe gives me the same warmth and
satisfaction, and I can get a quick fix anytime.”
–Michelle Bergevin, Niagara Falls, N.Y.
To prepare Core half an unpeeled apple (use any variety that remains firm when cooked, such as Northern Spy, Rome Beauty or York Imperial) and fill with 1 teaspoon of brown sugar and a dash of cinnamon; place in a microwave-safe bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave for 2 1/2 minutes; remove from oven and top with 1/2 cup nonfat vanilla frozen yogurt.
Nutrition score per serving: 143 calories, 0 fat, 90% carbs (32 g), 10% protein (4 g), 2 g fiber, 313 mg calcium, 0.4 mg iron, 46 mg sodium.
The nutritionist says “If you leave the apple’s skin on, you get a great dose of fiber,” Sass says. “And the yogurt provides protein and calcium.”
Slurpy sip: frozen fruit smoothie
“This mixture more than fills the void left when I cut full-fat premium
ice cream from my diet, and it’s a lot healthier.”
–Kelly Almasy, Stratford, N.J.
To prepare In a food processor, blend 1 cup nonfat vanilla yogurt, 1 cup frozen fruit (such as mangoes, berries or peaches) and no-calorie sweetener until thick and creamy.
Nutrition score per serving: 216 calories, 4% fat (1 g; <1 g saturated), 68% carbs (37 g) 28% protein (15 g), 4 g fiber, 500 mg calcium, <1 mg iron, 190 mg sodium.
The nutritionist says “Here’s a great way to get more fiber, vitamins and minerals in your frozen treats,” Galeaz says. “You can meet half of your daily 1,000-milligram calcium requirement with this recipe.”
Cheesecake redux: graham crackers, creamy topping and berries
“I know if I had a slice of full-fat cheese-cake I wouldn’t be able to
stop at one piece. This snack is sweet enough to tame my sweet tooth
without making me feel guilty.”
–Tera Busker, Hudson, Wis.
To prepare Spread 1 graham cracker with 2 tablespoons of fat-free cream cheese and top with 1/3 cup sliced strawberries or 2 tablespoons of preserves.
Nutrition score per serving (1 graham cracker with 2 tablespoons of cream cheese and 1/3 cup sliced strawberries): 105 calories, 17% fat (2 g; 0.5 g saturated), 61% carbs (16 g), 22% protein (5 g), 1.5 g fiber, 66 mg calcium, 1 mg iron, 249 mg sodium.
The nutritionist says “This is a clever way to get cheesecake flavor and texture without the fat,” Hertz says. “Fresh fruit is ideal, but if you use preserves, try to find some that are sweetened with fruit juice instead of high-fructose corn syrup.”
Fab frosting fix: soy nut butter and Nutella
“This heavenly blend of nut butter and chocolate flavors makes me feel
like I’ve had a decadent sweet treat while satisfying my late-afternoon
–Betsy Vasquez, San Francisco
To prepare Toast half of a whole-wheat English muffin and top with 1 teaspoon each of soy nut butter and Nutella (hazelnut chocolate spread).
Nutrition score per serving: 129 calories, 30% fat (4 g; 0.7 g saturated), 57% carbs (18 g), 13% protein (4 g), 3 g fiber, 102 mg calcium, 1 mg iron, 241 mg sodium.
The nutritionist says “The whole-wheat muffin is a good source of fiber, vitamin B and complex carbs for lasting energy,” Sass says. “The soy butter is a good source of protein that’s low in saturated fat, and the hazelnut spread provides a lot of flavor, so you don’t need to use much of it.”
Shape contributor Tajinder Rehal likes to snack on nonfat chocolate pudding.
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