Craving a late afternoon snack? For many of us, satisfaction is found in the form of a vending machine.
But what if instead of a bag of Cheetos, out came a perfectly-portioned string cheese? Or what if instead of a blueberry Pop Tart, four quarters got you a handful of actual blueberries? Or instead of a Coke, a seltzer water?
We have a hunch those changes would add up. According to data from the Institute of Food Technologists, a whopping 25 percent of Americans' daily calories come from snacks, making those often-mindless noshes just as important as any meal when considering a healthy overall eating plan. In fact, snacks add on a full 580 calories to the average person's diet every single day.
For some of us, opting for a Snickers over a pack of almonds comes down to convenience -- as much as we encourage people to plan ahead, the reality is that a vending machine is often the only choice, especially in the middle of a busy workday. Some vending machine companies have begun to notice the need for healthier options, swapping out, say, candy bars for an organic yogurt. But for many, healthy vending is still a dream.
When HuffPost Healthy Living asked our online community what they'd stock in a healthy vending machine, the responses went wild. Popular answers included hummus (a filling source of iron, fiber, manganese and other nutrients), grapes (a one-cup serving is loaded with healthy nutrients, including potassium), greek yogurt (a calcium- and protein-filled snack when served plain), green tea (which is packed with healthy properties) and soybeans (which are which offer tons of protein, calcium and iron).
We were inspired. And hungry. So we put together some of our favorite (and playful -- red wine, anyone?) suggestions. Click through, then tell us what healthy snacks do you wish were in your office vending machine?
Elisa Zied, MS, RD
Get Active Today
Alana Elias Kornfeld