Hail to the snack drawer.
Having healthy snacks for work on-hand at the office is key for staying fueled and focused when you need it most. Whether you’re in the middle of a big project or you’re chained to your desk with a looming deadline, they’ll help keep your energy up and your blood sugar stable during an afternoon slump, says Brittany Kohn, M.S., R.D.
Plus, “if you’re prepared with your own healthy snacks you won’t be tempted by any unhealthy choices available at the office,” she adds. Game, set, match, stale donuts and birthday cake in the break room. A solid snack should be less than 200 calories (so watch portion sizes), she adds, and make sure you’re getting protein and fiber to keep you satisfied until your next meal.
Here are 15 healthy options you can keep right at your desk — no jockeying for fridge space or dealing with thieving coworkers. These picks will make your snack drawer the office MVP.
“Seeds are a source of protein, and they’re easy to store, quiet, and not messy,” says Kohn. Her favorites are pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.
Plain Oatmeal Packets
Oatmeal isn’t just for breakfast—stash it in your drawer for a hearty snack, too. “Packets of instant, plain oatmeal microwaved with water in a mug and sprinkled with cinnamon is a great cold-weather snack when you want something warm and filling,” says Katherine Younger, R.D. Just make sure you choose an unflavored option, as many others are loaded with extra sugars. You can also store a full canister of quick oats at your desk.
“I love raw nuts like almonds or cashews. They deliver a great protein and fat combo,” says Younger.
Dried fruit can satisfy that mid-afternoon sweet tooth while tiding over with filling fiber. Younger goes for a few pieces of dried apricots or dates paired with raw nuts for a dose of healthy fat, too. Just make sure you nosh in moderation to avoid over-doing it on the sugar (and and avoid options with added sugars, too).
Nut butters like peanut butter and almond butter are tasty, versatile desk snacks—Kohn likes pairing it with an apple or banana. (Or, in a pinch, no judgement for just grabbing a spoonful from the jar). Kohn recommends sticking to one tablespoon, and as a general rule of thumb, the fewer ingredients, the better—be wary of added sugar and salt.
Crackers have gotten a bad rap, but there are some nutritious options out there to use as a vessel for your nut butter (or hummus or cheese, if you've got it in the fridge). In the SELF Editors' Choice Food Awards, the RD-approved cracker criteria we used were more than three grams of fiber and fewer than 150 calories, 1.5 grams of saturated fat and 180 milligrams of sodium. Two that made the cut (and were super tasty, too) were Nabisco Triscuit Baked Whole Grain Wheat Dill Sea Salt & Olive Oil and Vans Fire-Roasted Veggie Crackers.
Gone are the days when jerky was reserved for camping. This uber-portable snack is earning serious cred for its major protein boost (just make sure you pick one that’s not loaded with sodium). Fitness pro Jillian Michaels swears by Krave Jerky(she's an investor and a spokesperson, too), and several SELF staffers stash Vermont Smoke & Cure meat sticks.
Make easy air-popped popcorn at the office by adding 1/4 cup of popcorn kernels to a microwave-safe bowl, then covering with a microwave-safe plate and popping it in for 2 minutes and 45 seconds, according to LifeHacker. Stash seasonings like cinnamon, red pepper flakes, cumin, turmeric, or dried rosemary in your drawer to add flavor. (You can also make it ahead at home if you don't have a microwave available.)
This savory and crunchy snack is a great alternative to go-to chips or crackers, and it's loaded with minerals and A, C, E, K and B vitamins. "Seaweed acts as a vegetable in our diets because it is a low-calorie, fibrous, nutrient-dense food," Tanya Zuckerbrot, M.S., R.D., founder of F-Factor Nutrition, told SELF in February. You can find dried seaweed at health food stores.
A low-sugar granola or cereal is a great dry snack—just make sure you portion it out, since calories can add up quickly if you're mindlessly grabbing from the bag. To get ~extra fancy~, snag some communal milk from the office fridge and pour over your bowl for extra protein.
If you’re chained to your desk for lunch, personal-sized tuna packets and cans are a great stand-in snack to help hold you over. They’re filled with protein and healthy omega 3s, says Kohn. She recommends sticking to one with 150 calories and 300mg of sodium or less, and opt for water-packed tuna (or one that doesn’t need draining at all).
Hey, nothing wrong with treating yourself at snack time with high-quality squares of dark chocolate. “Cacao is great source of magnesium, which is a natural stress-reliever,” says Kohn. “Pair with peanut butter, nuts, or Greek yogurt for a protein-filled, satisfying snack.” She also suggests eat chocolate with 70 percent cacao or higher.
You can DIY these crunchy snacks or buy ‘em pre-made, but either way, they’re a great room temp stand-in for your beloved hummus, and they still pack a protein punch.
Whole Food Granola Bars
DIY Trail Mix
Can't decide between these desk snack options? Toss several of them (like dried fruits, seeds, nuts, and even dark chocolate chips) into a DIY trail mix and portion it out into quarter-cup serving sizes. If you're not the DIY type, a good store-bought option is 365 Everyday Value Backcountry Bundle Trail Mix (it made the healthy snack cut in the SELF Editors' Choice food awards with fewer than 10 grams of sugar), or create your own mix with over 150 options at Nuts.com and have it delivered to your office.
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