5 Healthy Alternatives For Your 4 P.M. Snack Attack
04/29/2015 08:29 am ET
May 12, 2015
Indulge in these dips, frozen treats and more -- and still have room for dinner.
By Lynn Andriani
Instead of cream cheese and crackers...
Courtesy of Kite Hill
As nut milks continue to wow us (have you seen the frozen dessert aisle in supermarkets lately?), we're smitten with a new iteration: an almond-milk spread that tastes amazingly similar to cream cheese. This one from Kite Hill is made with almonds and cheese cultures, has an impressively rich texture, is fantastic with crackers or apple slices and has no saturated fat (whereas an ounce of regular cream cheese has 5 grams -- aka 25 percent of your daily value).
An oats-and-fruit pouch is a novel way to get that combination of sweet and toothsome, at a way lower calorie count. These fruit squeezes from Munk Pack run between 80 and 100 calories each, and combine fruits such as apples, blueberries, bananas, acai, raspberries and coconut with an assortment of grains ranging from oats to quinoa to flax.
We've seen veggies sneak into all sorts of foods, but baked goods are a new one (unless you count carrot cake). Then we came across Garden Lites' frozen, microwaveable muffins, where zucchini or carrots are listed as the first ingredient, followed by oats, blueberries, egg whites and other feel-good foods. Calories range from 80 to 120, and there's even a chocolate variety.
Light, crispy freeze-dried fruit has a much different texture than the chewy, dense "regular" dried fruit you typically find in trail mix or granola. Most freeze-dried varieties, such as Crispy Green, are much lower in calories (e.g., 25 versus 100 calories in a quarter-cup); just check the package to be sure there are no added ingredients, beyond cinnamon or other spices.
Frozen fruit-and-veggie bars -- which we like to call grown-up Popsicles -- deliver a refreshing dose of vitamins, thanks to ingredients including carrots, kale, spinach, kiwi and broccoli. Plus, many, such as Outshine Fruit & Veggie Bars, as well as Ruby Rocket's, are lower in sugar and calories than your average smoothie or green juice.
The virtuous ingredient list -- which includes honey, coconut oil, almond butter, almonds, walnuts, dark chocolate, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, goji berries and oats -- is one reason to love these brownie-like bars. The other reason: There’s no oven required.
Get the recipe: No-Bake Chocolate Almond Bars
The Nutritional Powerhouse For When You Feel Like A Nut
Whether you prefer to think of this as a smoothie you eat with a spoon or a dairy-free pudding, there’s no arguing that whipped bananas and pears plus dark chocolate chips are a delicious combination. Use well-ripened fruit to ensure the finished dish is sweet and smooth.
Get the recipe: Banana Pear Pudding with Chocolate Chips
Cookies With A Secret You’d Never Guess
Prune puree may not sound sexy, but it’s a wonder ingredient: It can take the place of oil in many baked goods, and adds beneficial fiber. To make your own, combine a cup of pitted prunes with six tablespoons hot water in a food processor and run the machine until the fruit is smooth. (These cranberry-orange cookies also include applesauce, making them even better for you.)
Get the recipe: Cranberry Orange Cookies
Another Delicious Reason To Keep Old Bananas
You know brown bananas work well in quick bread, but it turns out they’re fantastic in cookies, too. Using very ripe fruit means you can reduce the amount of sugar; it also provides extra body, so you need less butter or oil. Quick-cooking oats give these cookies nice texture, too.
Get the recipe: Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies
The Holiday Indulgence We’d Gladly Enjoy Whenever
This healthy take on fruit cake is just as flavorful as traditional versions, minus the extra calories. The recipe calls for dried cherries, raisins, apricots, figs and dates, but you can use any fruits you like. It also includes brewed tea and orange zest, which add bright notes.
Get the recipe: Fruity Spiced Tea Cake