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Healthy Holiday Snack Options

Superfood-Pumpkin-SmoothieThe holidays are notorious for packing on pounds, seemingly without us even noticing. That extra slice of cheesecake at Aunt Martha’s, the second helping of béchamel sauce out with friends, the martini you couldn’t help but have at the cocktail party … all are fatty, calorie-laden ways to ensure yourself a New Year Muffin Top.

Instead, go the healthy route. You can’t always avoid the fun treats, but by having healthy snacks on hand, you can make better choices at least some of the time. Here are five easy ideas to try.

1. Nut Butters

Whether made from peanuts, almonds, cashews or sunflower seeds, nut butters are a healthy and protein-rich way to satisfy a craving for a treat. The buttery flavor and smooth consistency (or crunchy, depending on your preferences) help you feel like you’re getting a goody even when you’re treating your body right.

2. Veggie Chips

Vegetable chips have the same light, crisp flavor you look for in a potato chip, but without the extra calories. Plus, you pack in some extra nutrients in the form of a yummy snack. Try this recipe for baked rosemary beet chips, loaded with flavor but not with fat, and super easy to make: just slice beets thin with a knife or mandolin, toss with a little olive oil, salt and herbs, and bake for 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees. Voila! Slimming snack.

3. Dried Cranberries

Truth be told, dried fruit is not among the healthiest of snacks. Drying concentrates the fruit’s natural sugars, making them essentially a sweet. However, unlike other sweet treats (think Lindt truffles or that cheesecake slice), they contain neither corn syrup nor a bunch of extra calories, so they satisfy in a healthy way.

4. Smoothies

Everyone loves a good fake milkshake, as you might think of it. Just be sure to keep yours free of ingredients like ice cream, honey, syrup or other fake sweeteners. Instead, use fruit and nut butter to add richness and sweetness. Sneak in veggies where possible (think spinach, lettuce or celery), and blend until perfectly smooth to produce that satisfying texture we all love.

5. Marcona Almonds

Marcona almonds are rich and satisfying, and are easy to find in stores these days. To make Ina Garten’s thyme-flavored variation, you need:

  • 1 pound roasted, salted Marcona almonds
  • 2 teaspoons good olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon fleur de sel

Toss everything together and bake for 10 to 15 minutes at 350 degrees on a metal sheet pan, turning every 5 minutes or so to prevent burning. Keep in mind that although you can start from scratch, blanching and peel the almonds can be a real pain, so simply buying them already roasted, salted and peeled is much easier.

Now that you’re prepared, you can get out in front of the holiday rush and start working on those New Year’s resolutions in December. Go you.

Photo credit: www.whitneybond.com