Fall is a beautiful time of year. Bright colors on the trees, ideal temperatures during the day, crisp apples for snacking or healthy baking, sweet pumpkins, squashes, and other vitamin-rich vegetables in abundance, holidays around the corner, new seasons of television shows and new sports seasons are starting up, family-fun movies are on tv, fire places crackling, cozy sweaters and giant scarves – there is so much to look forward to. Fall, for some, could also mean falling off the track: for kids, homework is increasing and “screen time” is becoming more and more valued, than playing with friends. For adults: colder weather becomes an excuse to not exercise and certain hearty meals and comfort foods are not always the healthiest choices. As we approach November (how did that happen?!), I am hearing more often a cry for help. “Jess, I’ve been eating horribly and feeling terrible, I don’t even know how it all started, how do I stop?!” The question we should all ask ourselves is not, “How do I stop [being unhealthy]?” Rather, “Why do I want to get healthy?” What are your goals and motivating factors? Find your why and the how will come easily.
To steer you in the right direction, I am breaking down a list of “go-to fast foods” and “no-go fast foods,” for when the after-school or mid-day work snack attack happens to you and your kids.
~50 calories go-to ‘fast food’
1 wedge Laughing Cow cheese, 35 calories, 1.5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 190 mg sodium, 1 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 2 g protein
Keep one of these cheese wheels in the office fridge to fight on-the-job hunger. Spread a couple wedges over whole wheat crackers, and you hit both major benchmarks of satiety: protein and fiber—without breaking the calorie bank.
1 strip Pure Organic fruit leather, 50 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 10 mg sodium, 11 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 8 g sugar, 0 g protein
Believe it or not, there is such a thing as healthy fruit roll-ups. The best part? This sweet fruit leather is made from actual apples, pumpkins and strawberries, and it doesn’t contain any artificial sweeteners or preservatives. Adults and kids a like, rejoice!
1 cup watermelon, 47 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 12 g carbs, 0.6 g fiber, 10 g sugar, 1 g protein
Fat cells fear fruit — especially watermelon. At less than 50 calories per cup and 90 percent water by weight, the summer staple is almost impossible to eat too much of. What’s more, noshing on the juicy fruit has been shown to increase blood levels of L-arginine, an amino acid that’s kryptonite for belly fat.
Applegate Naturals Honey and Maple Turkey breast, 2 slices, 60 calories, 0.5 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 450 mg sodium, 2 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 11 g protein
Noshing on a couple slices of turkey meat is an easy way to quell your hunger pangs. Just be sure to stick to the recommended serving size to keep sodium levels down. Whole-grain mustard is a great condiment, for an additional three – five calories.
~50 calories no-go fast food
1 Dunkin Donut glazed munchkin, 70 calories, 4 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 80 mg sodium, 7 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 1 g protein
They may be small, but boy oh boy, do they pack on the calories and poor nutritional content. And let’s be real, there is no way we stop at just one munchkin and skip having a cup of coffee, hot chocolate, or milk to wash it all down with. Craving something sweet and on-the-go? Opt for a cup of fruit or a homemade sweet treat.
100 calories go-to ‘fast food’
1 SkinnyPop snack bag, 100 calories, 6 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 45 mg sodium, 9 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 2 g protein
Before your family sits down to watch The Voice, grab a small bowl of this skinny snack. Even better, the snack bags make it easier to know that each member of your family is getting an equal and healthy portion. I love SkinnyPop because it’s free of additives and exceptionally tasty—without being too salty. Though I am partial to the Original flavor, the popcorn also comes in equally low-cal flavors like white cheddar and kettle corn, if you’re in the mood to mix it up.
1 ounce Jarlsberg cheese, 100 calories, 8 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 7 g protein
(1 oz. low-fat cheese, 70 calories, 3.5 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 9 g protein)
Dotted with holes, Jarlsberg cheese resembles Swiss cheese and has a mild flavor with a nutty undertone. The cheese is made from cow’s milk and supplies several essential vitamins and minerals. Jarlsberg cheese is delicious alone; but, versatile enough to combine with many different foods to create a variety of meals and snacks.
100 calories no-go fast food
9.5 Lay’s Potato chips, 8 Doritos, or 13 Cheetos – is enough to set you back 100 calories.
Admit it – there’s no chance you can stop at nine chips. Not to mention, the sodium, fat, and carbohydrate count. Looking for a crunchy and/or salty snack? Opt for cut up veggies and dip, all-natural popcorn, or a handful of roasted almonds. The added protein and fiber will keep you full longer too.
200 calories go-to ‘fast food’
1 cup cucumber slices, 16 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 2 mg sodium, 4 g carbs, 0.6 g fiber, 2 g sugar
100 g (about 6 Tbs.) hummus, 166 calories, 10 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 20 g carbs, 5 g fiber, 5 g protein
Cucumbers are about 95 percent water, so not only will they hydrate you, but they’ll also boost your weight-loss efforts thanks to their low calorie count. For added health benefits, step away from the peeler! Cucumber skin is a rich source of vitamin K, a nutrient that helps regulate blood clotting and contributes to healthy bones. Pairing vegetables with a high fiber and high protein dip keeps you full longer. Hummus, especially when home-made, is a superfood powerhouse and can be used in so many different ways, from snack dip to sandwich spread.
1/4 cup or about 20 almonds (raw or roasted, unsalted), 200 calories, 5 g protein, 5 g fiber, 7 g carbs, 5 g sugar
Almonds don’t need any extras to be a satisfying snack. Added bonus: They’re the most nutritionally dense nut, which means they have the highest concentration of nutrients per calorie. Just be sure to stick to the serving size or you will be packing on the calories. Other lower-calorie nuts include pistachios, walnuts, and cashews.
200 calories no-go fast food
1 small serving fast food restaurant french fries, 230 calories, 11 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 160 mg sodium, 29 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 3 g protein
When it comes to fried food, of any kind, it is always always always best to make a homemade variety at home. Oven roasted potato (or even better – sweet potato) wedges, oven roasted vegetable chips, baked chicken tenders: you will find the same satisfaction, can have a larger serving, and feel 100x better after eating. Fried restaurant foods have loads of salt and are often cooked in an unhealthy oil, which leaves you feeling bloated, thirsty, and usually still hungry because there is little nutritional value.
300 calories go-to ‘fast food’
1 small apple, 55 calories, 0 g fat, 1 mg sodium, 15 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 11 g sugar, 0 g protein
2 Tbs. all-natural peanut butter, 200 calories, 16 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 6 mg sodium, 6 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 10 g protein
Apples with peanut butter are actually a very healthy snack to eat any time of the day. Although apples with peanut butter is a snack that is high in calories and fat, it is nothing you need to be concerned about as long as you choose an all-natural, no sugar added peanut butter. The fat in peanut butter is monounsaturated fat, which is good for you, and it helps your body burn fat and build muscle. The monounsaturated fat found in peanuts also has other health benefits, such as lowering cholesterol and reducing the risk of heart disease. If you are a vegan or vegetarian, eating apple slices with peanut butter is an excellent way to add more protein to your diet.
Avocado toast, 1 slice multigrain bread with 1/2 avocado, 250 calories, 15 g fat, 28 g carbs, 11 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 7 g protein
Avocado toast is here to stay and I couldn’t be more on board! As a snack, it is considered high in calories; but, it is a great option for a light meal. Get creative by adding your favorite flavors from spicy jalapeño peppers or salsa, to sweet strawberries and a drizzle of honey, to juicy, ripe tomatoes and a soft scrambled egg. This simple meal hits all the necessary nutrition points too: high in fiber, contains a healthy fat, contains a healthy carb, and can be high in protein depending on your added topping.
300 calories no-go fast food
1 Tall Starbucks hot chocolate with nonfat milk and whipped cream; 250 calories, 8 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 115 mg sodium, 39 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 33 g sugar, 11 g protein
I think the numbers speak for themselves. If you are looking for a warm and sweet beverage, try making your own hot cocoa at home using real cocoa powder and avoid the artificial mixes. Try my healthy hot cocoa for kids recipe!
It takes 21 days to form new (healthier) habits and to instinctively know what are healthier options when comparing two items. Start slow! Making one simple swap a day will become a snowball effect for other healthy swaps, once you realize how amazing you feel. If deciding between two packaged items, look at the ingredients. If you do not know what the ingredients are, you probably don’t want those chemicals in your body. When it does come time to enjoy your favorite Thanksgiving side dish, Christmas cookie, or pizza at a birthday, you can feel that much more inclined to truly enjoy your indulgence, knowing you are being healthy and respectful of your body 90% of the time.
I would love to hear your favorite snack attacks hacks! Share with the TLC community below and tag me @the.little.clementine on instagram for a featured recipe.