Snacking with Benefits… or whoever thought things that tasted so good could be good for you?

Okay, I’ll admit it; sometimes I love nothing better than sitting down in front of the TV with a bag of chips or cookies. Problem is snack foods can be both diet and budget busters. So does that mean we can’t indulge now and then? Not necessarily. The days of bad for you snack foods might just be a thing of the past. Not only are companies making more healthful snacks, but they’re also selling products packed with good for you ingredients too. In fact, eating them might even be a boost for your health. And even more good news is they’re not that expensive.
So if you are going to reach for the chips and cookies, check out some of these new products first.

Granola/Chocolate Bars
I recently got to sample the Attune Granola Wellness Bars and The Attune Probiotic Wellness Bars. The Granola bars retail for $1.69 and contain 180 calories and two grams of fiber. While the Chocolate Bars cost $1.29 and have just 100 calories…not bad for something that tastes so yummy. And there’s an added plus to eating these bars because they’re packed with probiotics that support a healthy digestion and boost your immune system. You’ll find them in the yogurt aisle at Whole Foods market and online at www.attunefoods.com.

An Alternative to Chips
If it’s something savory you crave, here’s another new product I recently got to sample…Popchips. They’re not fried, not even baked, but use heat and pressure to cook them. The result is a very light product with no oily aftertaste. And unlike baked products, you don’t need a gallon of water to wash them down. They’re available in nine flavors. I recommend all of them, but if I had to narrow it down, my favorite was definitely barbeque…I’d pick this product over chips any day. I’d also give Parmesan/Garlic and also Cheddar, two thumbs up. They’re available in 3.25 – 4 oz. servings and range from $2.99 to $3.49. You might think a 16 oz. bag of chips is a better deal, but these are packed with lots more flavor, and with swimsuit weather just around the corner, I’d say go with the Popchips. If you can’t find them in your neck of the woods, they’re available at www.amazon.com. And read more about them at www.popchips.com.

Smoothies and Water Enhancers
Sometimes smoothies make the perfect food to keep you going in between meals. It’s also a sneaky and smart way to fit in some of your daily five fruit and veggies. They’re simple to make with items like low fat milk, yogurt, and fruits like bananas, mangoes and strawberries. And these days you can even buy them readymade. A company called Lightfull Foods www.lightfullfoods.com sell Lightfull Satiety Smoothies, 8.25 oz., just 90 calories and cost is $2.19. Best of all they’re high in fiber, protein, calcium, and come in flavors like Chocolate Satisfaction. They’re available on their Web site, and also at places like Whole Foods and Safeway. And if you’re in a hurry in the morning, these make the ideal breakfast on the go.
And if you’re looking for something to give a plain glass of water some flavor, there’s Simply Nutrilite, who sell ‘juice twist tubes’. Check them out at www.quixtar.com

Chips and Dip
Doesn’t it seem like every day we’re told we need to eat more whole grains? If a bowl of whole grain rice doesn’t sound that great to you, fear no more. Take a stroll down the chip and dip aisle at your local supermarket and you’ll find most brands now offer at least one whole grain variety. One of my favorites is the Synder’s of Hanover Sunflower Chips, whole grains, 40% less fat, and they’re available in such flavors as French Onion and Southwestern Cheddar Cheese. Best thing about whole grain chips, they fill you up faster, so you end up eating less of them. And a company called Corazonas www.corazonas.com makes the first snack chip clinically proven to lower cholesterol. These are heart healthy tortilla chips that are made from whole oats, fiber, and plant sterols. They’re available in 2, 7, and 15 oz. bags and retail for $1.29 – $4.88. You’ll find them at Albertsons and Sam’s Club, or on line at their Web site or www.amazon.com

Don’t Forgo the Sweet Stuff
When I’ve had a bad day sometimes eating something sweet is the only way to put a smile back on my face. There’s a new product called Sweet Fiber, that’s a 0 calorie sweetener which is boosted with fiber. Benefit number one, it doesn’t add calories. Benefit two; added fiber acts as a proven weight loss aid. Best of all, you can add it to cookie and cake recipes. www.sweetfiber.net

Fruit Snacks
I used to think I was being so good when I picked up a bag of freeze dried fruit and nibbled on that instead of candy and cookies. That was until one day I just happened to glance at the ingredients and noticed the product had added sugar, and what looked like a bunch of chemicals. Well, all is not lost. There’s a product called Crispy Green that makes freeze dried fruits, apples, peaches, pears…just fruit, nothing else. You can read more about them and visit their online store at www.crispygreen.com

The Budget Smart Girl’s Tip
Sometimes snacks can be used to provide our bodies with vitamins and minerals we often miss out on when we skip meals. Think of items like cheese and low fat crackers that provide you with calcium and fiber. Fruit salad and fruit kebobs that can give you some of the recommended five a day.

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