On the Paleo Diet? Then You Need to Be Eating These Snacks
If you're on the "caveman diet"—eating mainly lean meats, veggies, and fruits—traditional snacks like chips and pretzels are off-limits. Here's are some great Paleo snacks to try instead.
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Purely Elizabeth Grain-Free Granola
Healthy granola is hard to find because most supermarket options are loaded with sugars and unnatural additives, not to mention grains and oats that make them Paleo-unfriendly. Unlike your typical granola, Purely Elizabeth is grain- and oat-free, plus it’s low-sugar. The low-carb granola clusters are perfect for the Paleo diet because they’re high in protein, thanks to cashews, dried coconut flakes, seeds, and cashew butter, according to Cathy Posey, RD, nutrition consultant and blogger at happyhouseful.com. The grain-free granola comes in two different flavors—banana nut butter and coconut cashew. You can make your own granola from scratch, too.
“If using them as part of a Paleo diet, they are definitely better than a package of sugar-coated, artificially colored chewy concoctions, but they should be used for replacements for candy and not replacements for fruit,” says Posey. This product can be found at most pharmacies, grocery stores, and even gas stations, but be careful because not all fruit leathers are good Paleo snacks. Check the list of ingredients on the back of the box carefully before purchasing. Your healthier fruit leather options will be those will minimal ingredients, like fruit and water. Stretch Island Fruit Co. makes great all-natural fruit leathers in a variety of flavors, like raspberry and strawberry, that Paleo bloggers and chefs love.
If you’re craving pasta, veggie noodles, also known as zoodles, will be your fix. Veggie noodles are basically just vegetables, most often zucchini, squash, and sweet potato, that are cut or spiraled to create a noodle-like texture and shape. “This is a fresh vegetable packed out with all its vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and flavonoids in tact, and it’s all that the Paleo diet represents,” Posey says. Since Paleo is such a big health movement right now, veggie noodles can be found at most supermarkets, but Whole Foods has pre-spiraled and prepackaged options that make for a quick low-stress meal. Vegetables are a main staple in the Paleo diet and for good reason. They are full of vitamins and leave you feeling satisfied.
Even if you’re not purely Paleo, boiled eggs should be a part of your diet for so many reasons. Not only are they super easy to cook (12 minutes on the stove on average with no mixing or stirring), but eggs are filled with proteins, vitamins, minerals, and good fats. Plus one large egg has only about 80 calories. “Boiled eggs are a high protein win for the Paleo diet, and for the best nutrition benefits, choose free-range eggs,” Posey says. Boiled eggs can even be found at the grocery store precooked and in packs of two, making it a great grab-and-go Paleo snack. If you’re not a fan of the hardboiled variety, try one of these egg-tastic breakfast cooking tips that we promise you’ll love.
“[Kale chips] do contain beneficial amounts of vitamins and minerals, retain fiber content, and even offer some protein in the mix,” Posey says. “They are still a snack food with around 10 grams of fat and 240 mg or sodium per 1-ounce serving, but a definite snack upgrade from processed foods with no protein, fiber, or trace minerals to offer,” Posey says. Kale chips are also a smart Paleo snack (and a healthier version of potato chips). They are very easy to make at home but can also be found at most grocery stores nationwide. Need more reasons to add kale to your diet? Here are 5 ways kale fights off obesity, cancers, and diseases.
Treats from Larabar include bars and bites filled with nuts, seeds, and other superfoods which add up to a great, inexpensive travel Paleo snack (one bar typically costs around $1). It’s a good idea to keep a few of these in your car, purse, or desk as a light snack. While not all Larabar products are Paleo, all are GMO-free, minimally processed, and made with all-natural ingredients. Some Paleo-approved Larabar flavors include Pecan Pie, Cashew Cookie, and Apple Pie. “They are a very natural candy, and could be a delicious part of the Paleo diet on a limited basis, but they are not nutritious enough to be a great meal replacement or daily habit,” Posey says.
Yes, dark chocolate can be Paleo, and yes, many Paleo experts actually recommend dark chocolate in moderation when it comes to healthy snacks. (Dark chocolate is even included in our 50 best healthy eating tips of all time because it’s packed with antioxidants and has been proven to boost brain health and curb cravings.) But not all dark chocolate meets Paleo snack standards. Look for unsweetened dark chocolate or baking chocolate with 80 percent or more cocoa. EatingEvolved and Primal Kitchen both make dairy-free and certified organic Paleo dark chocolate bars.
Almond butter and most other nut butters, like sunflower, coconut, hazelnut, and cashew butter, are Paleo-friendly and make for a tasty treat. “The natural fats in almonds are healthy fats and the sugars are good sources of usable energy,” Posey says. Try nut butter spread on bananas or apples for a healthy snack, or even just a spoonful right out of the jar, which is a decadent treat. If you’re counting calories, cashew and almond butters have the fewest, at about 95 per tablespoon. Plus, nuts offer a ton of health benefits, including fighting diseases such as heart disease and cancer, so here are more reasons to snack on them. Note: Peanuts are not Paleo, which means peanut butter is off-limits.
Beef jerky is no longer the synthetic, smelly, and sticky beef chunks found at your local gas station. Jerky has had a major makeover and is now the darling of health foodies everywhere, thanks to its variety of flavors and meat options, like turkey and chicken, with their high protein and vitamins. Some notable Paleo jerky brands are Sophia’s Survival Foods Jerky Chews, Steve’s Original, and Nick’s Sticks, which all offer grass-fed and organic jerky.
Everyone loves guacamole, but avocados often get a bad rap for being unhealthy and full of fat, which just isn’t true. Avocados are full of nutritious ingredients and offer these powerhouse benefits, including lowering cholesterol and reducing the risk of heart disease. Good news: Guacamole is 100 percent Paleo when made according to its traditional recipe, which includes avocado, lime, onion, tomato, and jalapeno. Individual serving sizes of guacamole, found at most supermarkets, make for a great grab-and-go snack. Try pairing your guac with fresh vegetables or plantain and kale chips for a salty crunch.
Pork rinds aren’t for everyone, but if you’re looking for a salty potato chip alternative, they might be just the ticket. But what exactly are pork rinds? Well, essentially pork rind is the skin of a pig, that when fried, boiled, and/or baked creates a crispy, airy chip-like consistency. Like potato chips, pork rinds also come in a bunch of different flavors, such as BBQ, salt and pepper, and cheese. “Pork rinds have traditionally been full of artificial everything,” Posey says. “Today, you can get baked pork rinds made with sea salt and they are a far cry from traditional.” Make sure to check the ingredients of store-bought pork rinds, as only a handful are truly Paleo snacks.
Go Raw cookies
When people hear the word diet, they often think of all the yummy foods they undoubtedly have to give up. But Go Raw is the exception. Founded on the principle of a raw-based diet, Go Raw offers organic and vegan snacks that taste good, like their Paleo cookies that come in unique flavors, including ginger snap and lemon pie. While these may not be your warm, gooey homemade chocolate chip cookies, they definitely satisfy a sweet tooth.
- Cathy Posey, RD, nutrition consultant and blogger at happyhouseful.com.
- Journal of the American College of Cardiology: “Nut Consumption and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease.”
- Journal of the American Heart Association: “Effect of a Moderate Fat Diet With and Without Avocados on Lipoprotein Particle Number, Size and Subclasses in Overweight and Obese Adults: A Randomized, Controlled Trial.”
- Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine: “Banana and Plantain Production Systems in Benin: Ethnobotanical Investigation, Varietal Diversity, Pests, and Implications for Better Production.”
- United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service: “National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release.”