Healthy Food Guide nutritionist Claire Turnbull gives us new ideas for every snacking situation.
Work snacks – morning and afternoon tea
A tasty snack can be something to look forward to during a busy working day. A great morning or afternoon tea snack is one which gives you a dose of energy that stays with you until your next meal… and keeps you awake.
Great work snacks
- Small handful unsalted nuts and a piece of fresh fruit
- 2-3 wholegrain crackers with a scrape of Marmite and cottage cheese, plus a piece of fruit
- Natural low-fat yoghurt topped with 2-3 tbsp of muesli and a chopped piece of fruit
- Homemade mini corn and courgette fritters, we have a great recipe here.
- Corn crackers topped with tuna
- Pottle of fruit salad packed in fruit juice and a pottle low-fat yoghurt.
- Small handful of raw snow peas, 1/2 orange capsicum, sliced, and 6 cherry tomatoes. Have with yoghurt or pulse-based dip, such as hummus.
- Homemade banana muffins, check out our quick and easy blender muffins.
Look for low-GI carbohydrates, protein-rich foods and healthy fats. The size of your snack will depend on how active you are. For most people, a snack of about 800kJ will be sufficient.
Pre-dinner snacks / nibbles with drinks
Bridging the gap between work and dinner can be a nutrition opportunity or near natural disaster! If you know you are an after-work muncher, plan for it.
Great pre-dinner snacks
- Small wholemeal pita bread (toasted if you have time) chopped into wedges with chunky tomato salsa.
- Bruschetta: toast sliced French bread, rub with a garlic clove, top with sliced tomato, a drizzle of olive oil and ground black pepper.
- Slice 1 carrot and 1/2 yellow capsicum into sticks. Dip into hummus or yoghurt-based dip.
- 10 green or black olives with 2-3 gherkins and sun-dried tomatoes.
- Small handful of wholegrain crackers with a pulse-based dip, such as hummus.
- 8-10 wholegrain rice crackers with 1/4 avocado mashed with 1 tablespoon yoghurt, a dash of sweet chilli sauce and 1 chopped tomato.
- Small can of flavoured tuna in spring water with mini carrots.
- Salt-reduced soup-in-a-cup or homemade vegetable soup.
- Mini falafels with low-fat natural yoghurt dip.
Look for vege-packed snacks where you can so you can be rid of the pre-dinner hunger pangs without completing ruining your appetite – or dinner.
After-school snacks for kids
Kids need snacks packed with slow-releasing fuel. This will help them concentrate on homework and keep them awake until dinner, without the need to flop in front of the TV tired and grumpy!
Great after-school snacks
- Handful of mini pretzels and a piece of fruit.
- Cubes of Edam cheese or reduced-fat tasty cheddar (such as Noble) and pineapple pieces on sticks.
- Whip up a smoothie made with trim milk and low-fat yoghurt, a ripe banana, and 1 tablespoon oats.
- Fruit kebabs: thread chunks of seasonal fruit on kebab sticks. Serve with reduced-fat yoghurt as a dip.
- Healthy nibbles platter: try wholegrain crackers, cherry tomatoes, shredded chicken, chunks of Edam cheese and grapes.
- Devilled eggs: hard-boil eggs and allow to cool. Slice in half, remove yolks, mash with a dollop of light mayonnaise or low-fat yoghurt, a dash of mustard and vinegar. Mash then return to egg white.
- Fill celery sticks with 2 teaspoons peanut butter or reduced-fat cream cheese.
- Slice of fruit toast with 1 teaspoon peanut butter and a pottle of reduced-fat yoghurt.
- Handful of unsalted nuts, seeds and sliced fresh fruit.
Look for fruit, vegetable and dairy-based snacks, low in sugar.
Before or after-sport snacks for kids
Being well fuelled for sports and activities will help both you and your kids perform better and recover more quickly. If kids’ sport is straight after school, a carbohydrate-rich snack is ideal.
After sport, having something to eat within half an hour will help ensure kids recover quickly and don’t end up in a hungry, grumpy mess!
Great before or after-sport snacks
- Low-fat yoghurt with oranges cut in quarters.
- Banana smoothie with Milo: blend trim milk, 1 banana, low-fat natural yoghurt, 3 flat teaspoons Milo and ice. For extra fibre, add 1 tablespoon oats.
- Mini pizza: top half an English muffin with tomato paste, sliced tomato, shredded chicken and a little grated cheese, then grill.
- Sliced apple, pear and a small cheese.
- Small can creamed rice with fresh or frozen berries.
- Handful dried apricots and dates mixed with almonds and walnuts.
- Mini tuna melt: top 1 slice toasted grainy bread with small can tuna. Sprinkle with reduced-fat cheese. Grill until lightly browned.
- Small bowl of Weet-Bix with trim milk and sliced banana.
- Fruit and yoghurt smoothie: blend frozen berries with low-fat yoghurt and trim milk.
- Fruit toast topped with light cream cheese.
Look for a carbohydrate-rich snack with a little protein. Most kids won’t need sports drinks, which can be high in sugar. Milk is a great recovery drink.
Before or after-workout snacks for adults
If you exercise first thing in the morning, a piece of fruit, low-fat yoghurt or glass of trim milk is often enough. If you exercise later in the day, a snack an hour or two before should see you through. If dinner is more than an hour after exercising, a small snack before dinner can help you refuel.
Great before or after-workout snacks
- Very berry smoothie: blend frozen berries, low-fat yoghurt and ice.
- Cereal bar, look for one that meets our criteria.
- Wrap 1 slice grainy bread around a baby banana.
- Mashed egg and a teaspoon of light mayonnaise on grainy crackers with sliced tomato.
- Fruit toast with a scrape of reduced-fat cream cheese and a glass of trim milk.
- Piece of fruit and a crumpet with 1 teaspoon peanut butter.
- Cottage cheese and sliced pear or apple.
- Canned fruit salad in juice, low-fat natural yoghurt and chopped nuts.
- 8-10 rice crackers topped with a small can of salmon or tuna.
Look for something rich in carbohydrate with protein and healthy fat. Fruit is great as part of a snack, too.
On-the-go portable snacks
When there’s just no space for fiddly snacks, and you don’t have access to a fridge, quick, convenient options are the go. As these options usually can’t be fresh, include fresh fruit and vegetables at other meals in the day.
Great on-the-go snacks
- Cereal bar, look for one that meets our criteria.
- Single-serve packs of nuts, bought or homemade.
- Small handful mixed seeds (keep in a resealable bag) – try pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Add some dried cranberries (Craisins) for a sweet edge.
- Small handful roasted chickpeas in a resealable bag.
- Single-serve packs of roasted fava beans.
- 1 frooze ball, or similar, and a small handful of almonds in a resealable bag.
Look for snacks that won’t squash easily and aren’t prone to going off should they be discovered at the bottom of your bag weeks later!
Following a gluten-free diet often means you are left with few options for snacks other than fruit or nuts. Including some healthy fat like avocado, nuts or seeds as part of the snack can slow the release of energy from the rest of your snack.
Great gluten-free snacks
- Mini frittata: whisk egg and trim milk. Pour over kumara, pumpkin, courgette and capsicum in frying pan. Grill to cook top.
- Buy/make Vietnamese rice paper rolls or sushi (check any sauces used are gluten free).
- Small handful raw mixed nuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, with 2-3 dried dates or apricots.
- Dip 1/2 small gluten-free bun in beaten egg. Lightly fry in pan with oil spray. Serve with 1 small chopped banana and chopped nuts.
- Homemade popcorn: make on stove top or in microwave.
- Potato cakes: combine leftover mashed potato, fresh corn kernels and a little grated reduced-fat cheese with 1 beaten egg. Cook shaped rounds in a non-stick pan sprayed with a little oil. Serve hot or cold.
- 2-3 corn thins or gluten-free crackers with 1/4 avocado, Marmite and 1 sliced tomato.
- Gluten-free mini pizza: use small gluten-free pizza base, top with gluten-free tomato paste, sliced tomatoes, mushrooms, olives and grated reduced-fat cheese. Cut in wedges for snacks.
- Use leftover risotto to make mini risotto balls.
Keep mini bags of nuts and dried fruit in your handbag, sports bag and glovebox so you don’t get caught out when there’s nothing gluten-free to grab on the run!
Substantial snacks for big eaters, athletes and physically active people
When you put in long days and physically exert yourself, your body needs a good source of energy, plenty of carbohydrate, protein-rich foods and plenty of fluid.
Great substantial snacks
- Tortilla stack: spread wholemeal/multigrain tortilla wrap with hummus, grated reduced-fat cheese and shredded chicken, top with a second tortilla. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a non-stick pan. Add tortilla stack. Cook until crispy. Turn over and repeat. Cut in wedges.
- Berry or date scones or hot cross bun.
- Leftover cold potatoes mixed with flavoured tuna.
- Mini pizza made on pita bread topped with pizza sauce or tomato paste, grated reduced-fat cheese, sliced capsicum and mushrooms.
- Bean toasties: spread 1 small can baked beans and a little grated reduced-fat cheese between 2 slices grainy bread. Pop into a sandwich maker and grill until golden.
- Fresh or frozen corn on the cob.
- Bran muffins.
Pack leftovers from dinner for a hearty, healthy snack the next day.
Healthy snacks are essential for toddlers and small children who are busy exploring their world and need energy to keep them going.
- 2-3 slices reduced-fat cheese such as Edam or Noble with fruit chunks like nectarines, plums and melon.
- Pizza fingers: take baguette slice, top with tomato purée and shredded chicken. Sprinkle with a little grated cheese, then grill.
- Mini pancakes with fresh fruit and low-fat plain yoghurt.
- Micro mini smoothie: blend baby banana with 1 cup reduced-fat milk and a small handful of baby spinach.
- Toast a mini bagel and top with ricotta cheese. Serve with a small handful of sliced grapes.
- Sprinkle natural yoghurt with a flaky, fruity cereal.
- Cracker stacks: layer crackers with slices of reduced-fat cheese and tomato.
- Mini wholemeal scones.
- Vegetable plate – sliced carrot, cucumber and capsicum – with hummus for dipping.
Look for snacks that are easy to eat. Finger-style foods and colourful combinations will keep toddlers interested and hopefully save you from picking food off the floor.