The Snacks Nutritionists Eat When No One Is Watching

Updated: Apr. 20, 2020

How do these food pros indulge when a craving strikes? Here are great healthy snack ideas (plus recipes!) from registered dietitians and other health experts.

Nutrition experts share their favorite healthy snacks

Eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring or tasteless. In fact, we asked food pros, like registered dietitians and other wellness experts, for their favorite healthy snack ideas. And yes, you can enjoy things like hot chocolate and ice cream—we have the nutrition expert-approved snack recipes to prove it.

hot chocolate
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Easy almond hot chocolate

I take two tasting squares of 70 percent dark chocolate and melt them with 2 Tbsp of hot water. Then I add 1 cup of warm unsweetened vanilla almond milk, ¼ tsp pure organic vanilla extract, and a dash of ground cinnamon. My ritual is to always use my favorite mug, take it out on my balcony, and slowly savor every sip while I enjoy some “me” time. Each of the plant-based ingredients is chock full of anti-aging, disease-fighting antioxidants, and the dark chocolate also provides stress-busting magnesium. —Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, author of S.A.S.S.! Yourself Slim: Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches. Check out these other healthy snacks

greek salad skewers
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Greek salad appetizers

I’ve loved this snack ever since I craved it daily while pregnant with my third child—who is now 13! Here’s how to make this savory treat. Cut 1/2-inch-thick slices of cucumber and cut each slice in half. Take a toothpick and stab an olive, cube of cheese, a cherrry tomato half and then stab one of the cucumbers, pushing the toothpick down to secure it. Drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkle with some black pepper, and serve. —Kathy Kaehler, a Los Angeles-based celebrity trainer and creator of the Sunday Set-Up meal-planning program

dark chocolate in bowl
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Decadent dark chocolate—before 3 P.M.

My not-so-guilty pleasure is dark chocolate! I only eat good quality dark chocolate that’s at least 75 percent cocoa. I love all the antioxidants that are so healthy for my heart, but even more importantly I love the taste. But here’s the trick—which prevents me from overdoing it at night—I’m caffeine sensitive, so I can’t eat it past 3 p.m. or it will keep me up all night. And nothing is worth affecting my sleep. —Brooke Alpert, RD, a nutritionist in private practice in New York City and author of The Sugar Detox. Consider trying these snacks when you want to cut back on sodium.

banana ice cream healthy
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One-ingredient ice cream

This is a perfect alternative to the high-calorie stuff, and it’s a great way to sneak in another fruit serving too. Peel a banana or two, chop into chunks and freeze until solid. Then toss in a blender or food processor and pulse, scraping down the edges every so often. (Once it’s softened up, you can blend on high speed for a few seconds.) You may need to add a bit of milk or nondairy milk to get the consistency right. Voila, banana soft serve! And since it’s not dessert for me unless there’s some chocolate involved, I usually pair it with a few good quality dark chocolate chips. —Rachel Meltzer Warren, MS, RDN, New York-based nutritionist and author of The Smart Girl’s Guide to Going Vegetarian

vegetables and dip
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Spicy sour cream dip

I generally don’t snack, but when I do, I love to use full-fat organic sour cream. I make a dip with garlic powder, smoked paprika, fresh dill, and salt and pepper to taste. I serve it in a small appetizer dish, with mini whole-grain pretzels, carrots, and sliced kohlrabi (or whatever vegetables you have in the fridge). One tablespoon of sour cream has 30 calories and 1.75 grams of saturated fat. Using it on occasion (not daily or even weekly) in small amounts is fine. I like the full-fat version because it does not have all the added gunk that many of the low-fat or fat-free sour cream products contain. —Samantha Heller, RD, senior clinical nutritionist at NYU Langone Medical Center and author of Get Smart: Samantha Heller’s Nutrition Prescription for Boosting Brain Power and Optimizing Total Body Health. You might want to replace some of these secretly not-so-healthy snacks.

fresh chocolate chip cookies
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Chocolate chip cookie

My absolute favorite snack is the classic chocolate chip cookie.  There are so many ways you can alter it to make it more nutritious. Use gluten-free oats, almond flour, or flax meal as alternatives to traditional white flour; add chia seeds and nuts for crunch and healthy fat and fiber; use coconut oil or apple sauce instead of butter; sprinkle some cinnamon for extra antioxidant power; and of course, choose dark chocolate chips over milk or semi-sweet. Also, when I indulge, I do so consciously so it does not spiral into a late-night cookie binge. I eat it as an afternoon snack or after-dinner dessert. I start with just half the cookie and pair it with a small glass of low-fat milk, almond milk, a piping cup of hot green tea, or even a tall glass of water. This way, I slowly enjoy and savor each bite. —Keri Glassman, MS, RD, author of The New You and Improved Diet

sauteed broccoli
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Sautéed broccoli with garlic

Some days I just need to be a volume eater and broccoli is my binge food. I know how crazy it sounds, but it really becomes a guilty pleasure. I take a bag of frozen organic and sauté it in garlic and olive oil with a pinch of salt. I eat the whole bag—and while it doesn’t calorically knock me out, it fills me up (sometimes it can lead to a bellyache though!). —Ashley Koff, RD, author of Mom Energy: A Simple Plan to Live Fully Charged. Although you can’t store broccoli in your office drawer, you can easily keep these healthy snacks at work.