Fall is in full swing, which means your schedule is packed with work events, after-school pick ups, apple picking trips, and (hopefully) a few happy hours. With all that running around, it can be easy to let your healthy eating goals fall by the wayside. Problem is, many packaged snacks are loaded with sugar and sodium and provide little in the way of nourishment.
That’s why Emily Navarro, RDN, senior manager of health and wellness at Freshly, recommends snacking on whole foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds whenever possible. That said, if you do need to grab a packaged snack, she suggests choosing something that’s rich in fiber and protein, and that’s minimally processed, meaning the nutrition label consists of simple and recognizable ingredients.
Whatever fall activities you’re up to, Navarro has healthy suggestions. Here are the best snacks to reach for if…
You’re stuck for hours at a conference or school lecture:
Ideal snack: A bar that’s easy to carry in a bag or backpack.
Nutrition bars are a smart choice as long as you avoid ones that are high in sugar, which will give you a temporary energy boost but leave you in a brain fog a few hours later. Instead, choose low-sugar bars that have a good balance of protein, fiber, and healthy fats.
Freshly Find: Purely Elizabeth Banana Nut Butter Bar
Navarro is a fan of this bar because it has only 6g of sugar and is sweetened with coconut sugar and bananas. Plus, it gets a boost from reishi mushroom extract, which can help relieve stress and support immune function.
You’re running countless errands and need to share a snack with your kiddos:
Ideal snack: Dried fruit, which is easy to keep in the car.
Naturally sweet dried fruit is both a quick pick-me-up and a smart way to satisfy a sweet craving. Just be sure to pick packages without added sugar! You’ll know the fruit you choose is natural if fruit is the only item listed on the ingredients list.
Freshly Find: Peeled Snacks, Mango
This one-ingredient fruit snack has no added sugar and is packed with potassium, fiber, and vitamins A and C, says Navarro.
You’re getting back into the swing of exercise and need a pre-workout snack:
Ideal snack: Nut butter with apple or banana.
A healthy source of carbohydrates, fruit provides a good pre-workout energy boost. Pairing it with a little protein-rich nut butter will help your muscles recover, especially if you’re weight training. Just be sure to check the ingredients list and steer clear of nut butters that contain added sugar, corn syrup, and palm or partially hydrogenated oils.
Freshly Find: Rx Bar Vanilla Almond Butter
These almond butter packets are a good source of protein and unsaturated fats, according to Navarro. And they’re sweetened with dates and vanilla, instead of added sugars. Perfect for slathering on an apple before a workout.
You’re searching for a healthy(ish) snack on game day:
Ideal snack: Baked chips or air-popped popcorn.
Regular chips pack on calories but not much else when it comes to nutrients. Swap your regular bag for one that’s baked or popped and made from vegetables or ancient grains, which provide nutrients and fiber. Air-popped popcorn is another smart whole grain snack.
These chips are a great way to sneak in some extra veggies since they’re made of sweet potatoes, parsnips, taro, and yucca, says Navarro.
You’re taking advantage of the crisp fall weather and going for a hike:
Ideal snack: Trail mix to help you go the extra mile.
Trail mix is a tried and true hiking snack, but some varieties are packed with so much candy and dried fruit that they’re more dessert than healthy snack. Instead of relying on sugary, store-bought varieties, make your own mix with nuts, unsweetened dried fruit, and a high-fiber cereal. If you do buy a packaged trail mix, make sure it’s low in sugar.
Freshly Find: Gorilly Goods Activated Superfood Trail Mix
Made with organic dried fruits, sprouted nuts, and cacao nibs, Navarro says this pick is a cleaner version of a classic trail mix.