Apr. 5. 2013
Written By:
McKel (Hill) Kooienga
McKel Hill Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Hill Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

Founder of Nutrition Stripped and the Mindful Nutrition Method™

Snacks on snacks on snacks. (…yes I just made a Soulja boy song reference…). I do a lot of singing and dancing when I’m making food (especially when I’m alone)…Anyways, one of my dear friends requested this post, so here is the first Readers Pick! I frequently get asked this question a lot, what to snack on, when to snack, what to choose, etc. Today I share a simply guide on all things snacks!

Snack attack.

What constitutes a snack? Basically snacks are a smaller portions of food meant to act as a dish that keeps hunger at bay until you have an actual meal. Since snacking is meant to hold you over until your next meal, you want something that’ll give you an energy boost not leaving you feeling lethargic or wanting the next quick fix to bring you “back up” (I’m looking at you candy, sugar, caffeine, coffee, carbohydrates, and chips!)

Unfortunately in the Standard American Diet (a.k.a. SAD, for a reason) snacks usually consists of food items that are highly processed, refined, contain additional sugars, artificial colorings, artificial flavorings, preservatives and the like. I call these “food items” because I do not see these types of snacks as food. Real food is meant to nourish our bodies down to the cellular level to nourish, repair, rejuvenate, and make us live long, healthy, and at our optimal level.

The SAD snacks most of us see (and possibly eat) are not nourishing our beautiful bodies with what it craves.  How can you spot the SAD snacks? Easy, SAD snacks are typically found in vending machines, in boxes, bags, in the center isles of the grocery store, and may scream advertisements on the front of the package such as “more energy!”, “10 hour energy”, “no afternoon slump”, etc. These food items don’t provide us with long lasting fuel to keep not only our bodies energized, but more importantly our minds (productivity people!).

Tips to snacking well…

1. Keep it “light” | choose easy to digest foods
Try avoiding eats that are too heavy for your digestive system  (i.e. very high fat, processed, or containing many combinations of foods). Digestion already takes enough of your energy so give your digestive tract a small break by eating foods that are simple and quick to digest (FRUITS AND VEGGIES are the best).
2. Keep the portion small (think 1/3 or 1/2 of a meal)
3. Convenient
You know I’m a huge fan of batch cooking and meal prep, so use that day to prep your snacks too! Start making your own “fast foods” for the week ahead.
4. Travels well
For easy portability and preparation, store snacks in a small sandwich size bag or mini-tupperware container.
5. Keep it simple!

The menu

  • #1 fresh and RAW vegetables or fruit!
    • Fruit is already in it’s own “packaging”, which is natures own convenience food.
    • Vegetables are also convenient, filling due to their high fiber content, easy to digest, and lower in calories.
  • Stripped Snack Plates | Simply take a mixture of fresh raw vegetables and/or fruits with a some nuts or seeds and put a dollop of hummus in the middle and voila, a simple snack plate!
  • Stripped Green Smoothie
  • Pumped-up Plant Protein Power Smoothie
  • Veggie “Sushi” Rolls
  • Globes |
  • Grain-free Banana Bread with Cinnamon Cashew Butter
  • Organic edamame
  • Spicy Sweet Nut & Seed Mix
  • Nutrition Stripped Energy Mix (homemade trail mix)| a mixture of your favorite nuts, seeds, and dried fruits.
    • Nuts & Seeds } almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pistachios, etc. [Raw, unsalted or lightly salted is best choice]
    • Dried fruits } bananas, cranberries, apricots, cherries, apples, mango, goji berries, golden raisin, prunes, unsweetened shredded coconut, etc. [sulfite-free]
  • Hummus dip with:
    • Fresh vegetables [carrots, celery, cucumbers, peppers, etc.]
    • Fresh fruit [apples, bananas, pears, grapes, etc.]
  • Salsa dip with:
    • Baked tortilla chips or sprouted corn tortillas
    • Beans and baked tortilla chips
    • Fresh vegetable sticks
    • Gluten-free crackers such as Mary’s Gone Crackers, Trader Joe’s etc.
  • Organic Almond/Peanut/Sunflower Seed/Cashew Butter with:
    • Fresh fruit [apples, pears, grapes, etc.]
    • Fresh vegetables [carrots, celery, cucumbers, etc.]
    • Sliced bananas and walnuts
    • Gluten-free crackers such as Mary’s Gone Crackers, etc.
    • Spread on the Grain-free Banana Bread 
  • ½ of an avocado with:
    • Avocado Toast | mash avocado on a gluten free bread such as Rudi’s, Food for Life, etc., and sprinkle with sea salt and a squeeze of lime juice
    • Gluten free crackers such as Mary’s Gone Crackers, etc.
    • Baked tortilla chips or sprouted corn tortillas
    • Salsa and vegetable sticks [carrots, cucumber, bell peppers, etc.]
  • Hard-boiled egg(s) with:
    • Fresh fruit
    • Fresh vegetable sticks
    • Gluten-free crackers such as Mary’s Gone Crackers, etc.
  • Popcorn: Preferably the kind you make on the stove-top with coconut oil and lightly salted or unsalted.
  • Organic plain, non-fat yogurt(s) of choice [almond milk, coconut milk, goats milk, Greek, soy milk] with:
    • Veggie Dip | Make your own vegetable dip by adding fresh herbs (cilantro, dill, parsley, basil), lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.
    • Fresh fruit
    • Raw and unsalted nuts/seeds
    • Add dark chocolate chips with a little stevia for sweet snack
  • Sprouted corn tortilla wrap with:
    • Banana and almond/peanut/nut butter- rolled up
    • Turkey slices and a little avocado- rolled up
    • Toasted with ½ avocado and lettuce with tomatoes

Kid friendly!

Kids it with their eyes; make fruit and vegetables more appetizing to the little ones by preparing, cutting, slicing, arranging the foods in a fun way that strikes their interest. The key is to present the food in an interesting way that’s appealing to their visual senses. Try using food props such as cartoon character plates, colorful utensils, their favorite mugs or cups into small snack holders, writing notes or drawing puzzles onto a paper towel, etc.

  • Classic “Ants on a Log” | spread organic nut butter onto a celery stick and top with raisins
  • Fruit Smileys | Arrange sliced bananas, apples, cherries, grapes, or any fruit into a smiley face on a plate
  • Fruit Pops | Puree fruit in a blender, freeze into an ice-cube tray and place a wooden stick in the middle for a “handle” to make mini popsicles
  • Shaped fruits | Using cookie cutters cut fun shapes out of fruit or vegetables
  • Colorful smoothies | Sneak in veggies using green fruit smoothies and berry smoothies. It helps to come up with fun nicknames for the smoothies to entice them and to makes them feel they’ve been apart of creating the smoothie; The Hulk, The Superman, Berry Blast, Pink Princess, etc.


Be sure to check this post periodically, as I will continually update this with new snack recipes as the blog develops! What are your favorite snacks? Do you like to snack throughout the day? Leave your ideas below!

Snack simple and smart friends,

xo McKel