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Ever eaten your way through a bag of cheese curls? I have.

Each is coated in a sticky, orange, napkin-resistant residue that glues itself your fingertips. I was halfway through a bag, pondering where to wipe my hands when I thought, “what am I eating?” 

High in calories, fat and sodium, this neon dusting of cheese was soiling more than just my hands. When it comes to our health, there are some stains that cannot be washed away.

In my search for a healthy alternative to a favored snack, I discovered a few nutritional nibbles.

Kale Chips

10 Snack Upgrades to Stay Healthy and Energized - Quicken Loans Zing Blog

Image: BloomForLife.org

Like potato chips, this salted snack is light, crisp, and airy. It’s a simple recipe that’s simply irresistible. It may not look like much, but kale is a true contender in the world of super foods. It is an excellent source of calcium and vitamin C. It’s rich in antioxidants and protects cells from free radicals. It also has omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for brain function, making kale a literal food for thought.

Fruit Leather

10 Snack Upgrades to Stay Healthy and Energized - Quicken Loans Zing Blog

Image: BuonaPappa.net

Fruit snacks, despite its name, are rarely made of fruit. What we’re actually eating are sugar-filled posers. Packed with artificial sweeteners, preservatives and dyes, fruit snacks are no healthier than the average candy bar. Fruit Leather is a healthy substitute. It comes in a wide range of flavors and consists of pureed fruit that is dried, cut and rolled. Free of toxic additives, this all-natural fruit roll is not only healthy, but also fun to eat and easy to make. So sit back, unwind and unroll. 

Air-Popped Popcorn

Popcorn in a blue bowl on wooden table

Though it’s a moviegoer’s favorite, popcorn pops up everywhere, including the kitchen cabinet. But most of us aren’t popping our popcorn over the stove, but instead, are slipping a sealed grease-filled bag into the microwave. Coated in artificial butter, salt and an array of chemicals, it may be great for a movie, but it’s bad for your health.

Air-popped popcorn maintains that notoriously fluffy crunch, without all of the extra calories. Popped without oil, it contains virtually no fat. Try adding almond slices for added texture and crunch. If you’re looking for a bit of spice, a dash of cayenne pepper is all you need. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, a sprinkle of hot cocoa powder goes a long way. There are so many different ways to mix up this classic snack. No wonder it’s so popular.

Frozen Greek Yogurt

10 Snack Upgrades to Stay Healthy and Energized - Quicken Loans Zing Blog

Image: GreensNChocolate.com

Few can resist the creamy cool ooze of melting ice cream, but with the aide of a freezer and some Greek yogurt, you won’t have to. Greek yogurt contains B12, which provides energy and supports brain function. Full of protein and probiotics, Greek yogurt promotes healthy cell growth and a balanced digestive system. For sweetness, simply add a light dab of honey or some fresh fruit. For texture, you can stir in your favorite nuts, or simply eat it plain. Give it a try, and for once, give ice cream the cold shoulder.

Whole Grain Pita Chips and Hummus

10 Snack Upgrades to Stay Healthy and Energized - Quicken Loans Zing Blog

Image: WhatsGabyCooking.com

Chips and dips are an essential pairing in the snack world. There’s nothing quite like the salty brisk crunch of a potato chip and the flavorful spreads in which we dip them. And while there really is no duplicate, there may be something better.

Hummus is a blend of chickpeas, olive oil, salt and lemon. It’s a simple recipe that now comes in a vast variety of flavors. Unlike its counterparts, which can contribute to high blood pressure and cholesterol, hummus provides a health service that few dips can boast. Rich in protein and iron, hummus can help ward off cravings and increase energy, making it easier to maintain a healthy weight. Not to mention it’s full of essential vitamins and minerals. Pita chips provide fiber, hummus provides flavor, and you can bring the fun by making your own. Whether it’s on your shoulder or out of a bag, any chip could fall in love with this dip.


Mixed Nuts, Dried Fruit and Homemade Energy Bites

10 Snack Upgrades to Stay Healthy and Energized - Quicken Loans Zing Blog

Image: GimmeSomeOven.com

Instead of a store-bought energy bar, reach for a handful of mixed nuts and dried fruit. Packed with protein and essential vitamins, this mix is as easy to make, as it is to enjoy. Dried berries are an excellent source of antioxidants, while nuts provide vital proteins and heart-healthy fats. Pistachios and walnuts can help reduce cholesterol, while almonds are a major source of vitamin E.

Find a blend that suits your nutritional goals and if you’re feeling adventurous, try making your own bite-size version of an energy bar. They boast the same benefits as their manufactured counterparts, offering a flavorful energy boost without the toxic additives. These nutty blends are natural and nutritious. So go on – go nuts.

Vegan Pizza Rolls

10 Snack Upgrades to Stay Healthy and Energized - Quicken Loans Zing Blog

Image: TheColorfulKitchen.com

Americans eat approximately 100 acres of pizza every day. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that pizza rolls are an equally popular snack. High in calories and fat, this frozen food is no good when it comes to health. Vegan pizza rolls are an awesome alternative. It cuts down on calories and fat without cutting back on taste.

With ingredients such as fresh spinach and garlic, this vegan pizza roll brings both flavor and nutrition. Though they’re not as easy to prepare as traditional pizza rolls, the cooking process is certainly a lot of fun. This is a cooking project that can entertain children and adults alike, resulting in a handmade meal filled with memories. This snack is simply, love at first bite.

All-Natural Fruit Popsicles

10 Snack Upgrades to Stay Healthy and Energized - Quicken Loans Zing Blog

Image: JustOneCookbook.com

Fruit popsicles provide a chilled and sugary delight without the damage of added sweeteners. Unlike traditional popsicles, they have no artificial coloring or preservatives. Both of which are known to cause behavioral changes, heart damage and even cancer.

Making your own fruit popsicles is not only healthy, but also fun. Fruit is filled with essential vitamins and antioxidants, a nutritious blend that can boost the immune system, promote healthy cell growth and protect against cancers. So lick or bite your way into fruit popsicles. There’s no better way to break the ice.

Dark Chocolate

10 Snack Upgrades to Stay Healthy and Energized - Quicken Loans Zing Blog

Image: ButterBeliever.com

Loaded with antioxidants, dark chocolate is a sweet treat that promotes healthy cell growth and is relatively easy to make. It has far less sugar and butter fat than its candy bar cousin, and its depth of flavor is unmatched by any other chocolate. Dark chocolate can reduce risk of stroke, lower cholesterol and increase blood flow to the brain. It has also been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and blood circulation, meaning that it may delay or even prevent the onset of diabetes. So if you’re looking for something good, welcome to the dark side.

Vegan Cheese Curls and Organic String Cheese

10 Snack Upgrades to Stay Healthy and Energized - Quicken Loans Zing Blog

Image: SplendidTable.org

While cheese curls are a favored snack of mine, this popular junk food is high in salt and calories, not to mention the preservatives, artificial flavoring and added food dyes.

If you’re craving something cheesy, why not reach for — cheese. Organic string cheese is rich in calcium and free of antibiotics and synthetic hormones. However, if you’re seeking the light crisp of a cheese curl, I recommend making your own or buying a vegan alternative.

Vegan cheese curls are gluten-free, dairy-free, contain no GMOs, no trans fat and are 100% natural. So when it comes to healthy snaking, say cheese

Already made an upgrade of your own? Share your go-to healthy snack in the comments below.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Just a few weeks a go my wife and I try a three day juice diet to cleanse our body. Some of the juices where good , but costly to eat like this all the time . I like some of the ideas you give for sacks . We tried the kale it was pretty good . This will take some getting use to from my regular diet. You have put a lot on my mind thou with these articles.

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