07/11/2011 08:06 am ET Updated Sep 10, 2011

DIY 100-Calorie Munches

It is important to watch what we eat -- for our health and our waistlines. In addition, studies have shown that an intake of fewer calories may help us live longer, healthier lives. Sustained weight loss is healthy and even energizing if you are overweight or obese to begin with, but that's different from caloric restriction in the scientific sense, which is all about cutting calories beyond what's needed to maintain a weight judged to be healthy by regular standards.

The NIH has sponsored the first long-term randomized controlled trial of human caloric restriction and "metabolic aging," which is in its final stages. But in the meantime, the fact that caloric restriction may help people grow young and transform lives makes it hard to ignore some of the new animal studies and short-term human pilot projects.

The big snack companies are capitalizing on this and packaging their snacks in 100 calorie bags. Convenient? Yes. Healthy? Debatable. If you do it yourself, you'll do it better than the big companies, for a slew of reasons:

• You can make perishable snacks, thereby using fresh foods that are healthier.
• The 100-calorie packs you buy in stores don't always taste exactly like their regular counterparts. The Oreos, for example, don't have the white filling, just the crunchy chocolate wafer.
• By packing your own snacks in reusable containers, you'll be saving waste and helping the environment.
• Choosing your favorite snacks and counting them out into 100-calorie portions is an eye opener: it really helps us think about what a portion should really look like and how much we as a society really do overeat.

Here's a guide to how many or how much of a bunch of your favorite healthy treats are equal to 100 calories, plus a few awesome 100-calorie combos!

DIY Healthy 100 (Or Fewer) Calorie Munchies
• 14 almonds
• 23 pistachios
• 16 Pop Chips
• 1 Horizon organic mozzarella cheese stick
• 3 cups of air-popped popcorn
• 2 large red bell peppers cut in strips
• 8 Food Should Taste Good Sweet Potato Chips
• 1 medium pear
• 1 small banana
• 1 Vitamuffin Vitatop
• ½ an apple with 2 tsp of peanut butter
• 4 mini rice cakes with 2 tablespoons low-fat cottage cheese
• 1 small baked potato with ½ cup salsa and 2 Tbsp of fat-free sour cream

• 1/3 cup of unsweetened applesauce with 1 slice of whole-wheat toast, cut into 4 strips for dunking
• 1 Laughing Cow Light Creamy Garlic & Herb cheese wedge and 3 Whole Grain Triscuits
• 1 Yoplait Light Smoothie
• 1 hard-boiled egg with 1 slice Melba toast

• 2 ounces turkey with 2 tsp honey mustard, rolled in lettuce leaf

• ½ mini whole wheat bagel with 1 ounce smoked salmon
• 15 strawberries dipped in 1⁄4 cup Cool Whip Lite

• 45 steamed edamame (green soybeans)

• 2 Tbsp each of mashed avocado and chopped tomatoes stuffed in 1⁄2 mini pita