5 Preservative-Free, Healthy Snacks You Can Make at Home
RECIPES TO GET YOU BEYOND PROCESSED, PACKAGED BITES
by Chelsea Vincent
Whether you’ve got kids heading back to school or the office is ramping up before fall, healthy snacks – the little bites that sustain us between meals – can add up in big ways (or sabotage your waistline) over time. With a little advance planning and grocery shopping, these delicious, preservative-free snacks can be made at home, to keep you and your loved ones going during the day.
Tex-Mex Deviled Eggs
If you enjoy guacamole, this yummy snack combines protein and fat, as a great snack or post-workout option.
- 1 dozen eggs
- 2 large avocados
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- Dash of chipotle paprika (optional)
- Sea salt
Boil all eggs, then remove shells. Cut eggs in half lengthwise, removing the yolks and placing them in a bowl. Set the whites aside. To the egg yolks, add the avocados, lemon juice, cumin, and chipotle. Use a potato masher to mash and combine all ingredients until smooth. Spoon rounded tablespoons into egg whites, and top with a pinch of sea salt. If you have leftover egg yolk mixture, use it as a dip! Store in the refrigerator and consume with 2-3 days of making.
Dehydrated Veggie Chips
Wait, wait – dehydrators aren’t alien devices (and they’re actually not that expensive, as seen online). In fact, the hardest part here is cutting up the veggies (which you can also buy pre-sliced, even using the frozen variety) as the rest of the work happens while you’re off living your life. Using a dehydrator keeps the heating temperature below 135 °F, which preserves some of the beneficial enzymes destroyed when veggies are cooked at higher temperatures.
- Very thinly sliced carrots, stems removed (or other vegetable of choice)
- Lemon juice
- Sea salt
Toss the carrots in a glass bowl with a light spritz of lemon juice, as well as a pinch of sea salt. Then, spread the carrots out across the trays in the dehydrator. Set the dehydrator to 135 °F and let it run for 6-8 hours. The carrots will be done when they don’t stick together. Store in a cool, dark place.
As far as fruit goes, while you can dehydrate fruit and create dried fruit, it’s better to eat fruit in its original form. Dried fruit can quickly become an overly-sugary snack because there’s no water to make you feel full. Dried fruit pieces often look much smaller, so it’s easy to go overboard on portion sizes.
Sweet Potato Boats with Smashed Garlic Spread & Sea Salt
Mmmm, sweet potatoes! This popular “fall entry flavor” isn’t just for pies and sweets. Try this savory take, for a simple-yet-delicious snack which is packed with fiber. Added bonus: garlic has a whole slew of health benefits, including being a natural antibiotic.
- 4 large sweet potatoes (we especially like the Japanese variety)
- Coconut oil
- ~25-30 cloves of garlic, peeled
- Sea salt
Place the peeled garlic cloves in the center of a piece of aluminum foil, then drizzle with enough coconut oil to lightly cover all of the cloves. Wrap the tin foil closed around the cloves, to create a sealed pocket. Bake in the oven at 400 °F for ~35 minutes, or until cloves are softened. Once the garlic is done, let it cool, then smash it into a paste (it will be on the thicker side). Place in an airtight container and store in the fridge.
For the potatoes, scrub and rinse the potatoes in the sink, then pat dry with a towel. Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise, place them inside-up on a baking sheet, and drizzle with coconut oil and sea salt to taste. Bake for ~45-55 minutes at 400 °F and let cool.
To enjoy, spread a bit of the garlic spread onto the sweet potato half, then sprinkle with sea salt. For a to-go friendly option, wrap individual sweet potato halves in tin foil, and put a dollop of garlic spread in a small container to take with you during the day.
Funk-Free Beef Jerky
Jerky is a popular snacking favorite, but funky additives – like high fructose corn syrup, MSG, or hormones – can really interfere with your body’s best practices. You may be surprised to learn that homemade beef jerky – using your trusty dehydrator – tastes incredible and isn’t overly complicated to make.
- ~2.5 lbs high-quality beef (hormone-free natural or organic grass-fed)
- ¼ cup coconut aminos
- 2 Tbsp natural liquid smoke
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- ¼ tsp garlic powder + ¼ tsp onion powder (both are optional)
While chilled (or even slightly frozen, for an easier time), slice beef into ¼”-thick strips. In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Submerge the meat in the mixture in the bowl (press it down to help cover everything with some moisture), then marinate in the fridge, covered, for 24 hours. After that, lay out meat strips in single layers on the dehydrator trays, and run the dehydrator at 145 °F for ~3.5-4 hours. Check that strips are dry and enjoy with a few weeks (refrigeration is optional).
Sassy Cayenne & Cacao Walnuts
For a lower-fat, lower-sugar version of spiced or candied nuts, enjoy these chocolate-inspired walnuts, which are rich in antioxidants and can reduce inflammation.
- 1 cup walnuts
- ⅛ cup maple syrup
- 2 Tbsp coconut sugar
- ⅛ tsp cayenne pepper
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 2 Tbsp cacao powder
- 1 tsp sea salt
- pinch of ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
In a food processor, combine all of the spices and the sugar. Separately, use a bowl to coat the walnuts in the maple syrup and vanilla. Add the spice mixture to the nuts, stirring to coat evenly. In a wide skillet over very low heat, cook the almonds for a few minutes, stirring constantly. Last, spread the nuts out to cool, on a wax-paper-lined baking sheet. Once cooled, store in an airtight container, and enjoy within a few weeks.
Love these ideas, but need some help with incorporating healthy snacking as a practice? Spend some time on Saturday or Sunday where you prep, by making some items ahead of times and creating portion-sized servings. You can also chop up ingredients you’ll need to use during the week for others.
We all get the same 24 hours in a day, so it comes down to how we define our priorities. If you keep getting ambushed by unhealthy snacking, spending a little time prioritizing healthy snack options and prep work, to ensure you’re ready to rock when life gets busy.