From maintaining your blood sugar to satiety levels before your next meal, the importance of snacks cannot be stressed enough. Healthy snacks between meals not only help keep your hunger at bay but also prevent you from overeating.
Unfortunately, Indian snacks have developed a bad reputation due to the high amounts of fad diets. When one thinks of Indian snacks, images of hot samosas, onion kachoris, and gol gappas or pani puris come to mind. However, that’s not the entire spectrum of these snacks, just not-so-healthy versions of them! When it comes to choosing healthy snacks of Indian origin, there are many healthy options and they are packed with nutrients too.
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Why is breakfast necessary in the diet?
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics promotes healthy snacking as a part of a healthy eating plan. They recommend choosing healthy snacks ahead of time. Whether you’re a high school student, working professional, stay-at-home parent or athlete, everyone can benefit from healthy snacking.
There are many health benefits which include:
1) Improved focus, productivity and stress reduction.
Healthy snacks provide a boost of energy. Several research studies have shown that students and employees who eat breakfast during the day have more energy, mental acuity and overall performance.
2) Effective weight control
Choosing healthy snacks helps you avoid excessive hunger. Everyone can remember the time you waited until the last minute to grab a bite to eat because you were too busy with work. What did you grab after all? Maybe something that was very unhealthy!
Nutritionists recommend that eating small meals at 3-hour intervals throughout the day will prevent the urge to binge eat. This is especially recommended during active times.
While you ensure to have your mid-meal snacks at regular intervals, it is equally important to indulge in healthy snacking. This will keep you from reaching for a box of donuts or a chocolate bar from the vending machine.
3) Helps to curb craving
Blood sugar levels fluctuate throughout the day, but they drop about 3 to 5 hours after eating. Eating small but frequent snacks not only improves metabolism but also normalizes blood sugar levels. Hunger throws the body into a state of famine; Slowing down the metabolism, which will only increase your weight.
Snacks like fruits, low-fat dairy products, nuts, legumes and whole grains have lots of nutrition that keep you feeling satisfied for longer. They also keep you from succumbing to your sweet tooth or caffeine addiction.
4) Maintains mood
Food is fuel. Some foods will fuel you fast and crash very quickly while others will give you a slow and consistent source of energy to help you feel alert and happy. Nutrient-poor foods like potato chips, candy bars, sugary drinks, etc.
Provide a rush of hot fuel. While they provide a jolt of energy, it is soon followed by a painful crash that can leave you feeling cranky, hungry and unable to concentrate.
Healthy snacks provide slow-burning fuel to keep you energized throughout the day. You will not experience a drop in mood or alertness. In fact, you’ll probably feel and look like a happier person.
How do you know if your breakfast is healthy?
Here’s one way to do it — check the “Nutrition Facts” label on the back of the product. Here you will be given the facts about that particular snack according to the serving size. You can expect to find information such as calories, fat, sodium, sugar, carbohydrate, protein, iron content, and other important information per serving.
Choose your breakfast wisely, based on your health concern or focus. If you prefer low-sodium foods, choose snacks with low or zero sodium. Likewise, if you’re choosing a heart-friendly diet, consider low-fat options.
As a part of healthy eating, consider the following rules when choosing a healthy snack:
- Avoid products with high sugar or sodium content.
- Choose foods that are low in fat and sugar, but high in fiber.
- Nuts are a healthy option, but they are smaller in size.
- Always take the portion size recommended on the Nutrition Facts label. Consuming too much encourages unnecessary weight gain.
- Whole grain snacks, vegetables and fruits, as well as low-fat dairy products, make the best snacks.
- Limit drinks with added sugar, especially soft drinks and colas. Natural and fresh fruit juices provide the best nutrition. Tetra Pak juice contains a lot of sugar and does not provide much nutrition.
- Avoid foods that have corn syrup listed as one of the ingredients.
- To maintain satiety levels, always mix complex carbs and protein together. This will make you feel full for a long time. Examples include wheat crackers with peanut butter, cheese and apples, fresh fruit and yogurt, etc.
8 Healthy Indian Snacks You Can Eat Guilt-Free!
1) Besan Khandvi
This popular Gujarati snack is made from natural ingredients like chickpea flour, curd, sesame seeds and mustard seeds. Khandvi is steamed and tempered with a variety of spices.
A single serving of Khandvi is around 100 grams which contains around 200 calories. This delicious snack is packed with nutrients. It is gluten free as well as rich in protein. It helps in controlling blood pressure and hunger pangs.
Khandvi contains other nutrients like fiber, manganese, zinc, iron and calcium. It is the ideal snack to carry, as it provides a balance between protein and carbs.
One of the most popular Indian snacks from Gujarat, it is made from a batter of fermented chickpeas and rice. Dhokla can be eaten as a snack or as a light snack. What makes Dhokla so healthy is that one serving contains 283 calories, 11 grams of protein and zero cholesterol. This snack is also a good source of iron, magnesium and calcium.
3) Curd / Yogurt Sandwich
Everyone loves sandwiches, and luckily they make the perfect breakfast. You can try making curd sandwich at home. Yogurt sandwiches are made from thick yogurt, whole wheat bread slices, fresh vegetables like grated carrots, cabbage, onions, capsicum, fresh coriander, black pepper and salt.
There are 200 calories in a yogurt sandwich. This delicious snack is low in fat but high in fiber and a good amount of protein. It also contains calcium, vitamins A and C, and iron.
4) Paneer Wrap/Kathi Roll
It is one of the many mouth-watering Indian snacks from Bengal. A popular street food, when made at home, Kathi Roll is packed with nutrients. It is made from a variety of fried vegetables with chili sauce and wrapped in a thin bread made from whole wheat or buckwheat flour. You can opt for a vegetarian or non-vegetarian version of this snack.
A single kathi roll contains 260 to 350 calories. Its high vegetable content will give you lots of fiber, carbohydrates, vitamins like A, C and E. Whether you choose paneer or chicken, you also get enough protein.
Steamed idlis from South India can be consumed as breakfast or lunch and even as a snack. Usually made from a batter of fermented rice and urad dal, you can also make them with many other ingredients like semolina, porridge, ragi etc.
A single, medium-sized idli contains only 36 calories, 2 grams of protein and 8 grams of carbohydrates. Idli also contains iron and calcium. It is a perfect combination to keep you full and maintain your blood sugar level.
Another southern delight, dosa is loved by all. This is another snack made of fermented rice and urad dal batter. A variety of dishes can be made from sprouted moong dal, oatmeal, quinoa, ragi and semolina.
A single, plain dosa contains 133 calories, most of which come from carbohydrates and proteins. Dosa also contains iron, potassium and calcium, which makes it another all-rounder snack. But we recommend that you make and consume dosas at home as they are much healthier and less oily than dosas made in restaurants.
7) Baked Samosa
Samosa is probably the king of Indian snacks. Although its origin is in northern India, it exists in many forms. This delicious snack is loaded with calories when you opt for the fried version, but luckily a baked samosa can still satisfy your craving without the fat. One cooked samosa contains 120 calories and plenty of fiber.
You will also get plenty of vitamin C from potato and peas stuffing. Apart from potato and pea filling, there are other healthy options too such as minced chicken, minced cheese or cottage cheese with mixed vegetables that you can choose from. This will not only enhance the nutritional quality of the samosa but also enhance its taste.
8) Bhel Puri without chutney
A delicious snack from the central parts of India, it is made with puffed rice, mixed spices, peanuts, vegetables and a drizzle of tamarind chutney. To enjoy this delicacy guilt-free, you can avoid the sauce and fill it with fresh vegetables, nuts, and herbs.
A single serving of Bhel Puri contains only 60 calories, along with a perfect combination of good proteins and complex carbs. Similarly, you can try different chaats made from boiled gram or whole moong.
Some other healthy options that you can easily eat without much preparation are –
- Mad A snack that is not only easily available but also provides a variety of nutritional benefits. From pistachios to cashews to walnuts and almonds, there is a nut to suit everyone’s taste. These are high in proteins and good fats that provide you with healthy physical and mental health. So, have a handful of nuts not only to curb your appetite but also to make yourself feel full for a longer period of time.
- Makhana Makhanas are an excellent choice for an evening snack as they are rich sources of protein with very little fat content. These are easily available in the market. Roasting them in a skillet (with/without a little ghee) and sprinkling a little salt and paprika makes for a mouth-watering nutritious snack that you should try to include in your diet.
- corn slag A high-fiber snack that requires very little preparation time, it’s a go-to snack when you’re hungry. 100 grams of popcorn provides you with 6 grams of carbohydrates, 11 grams of protein and 0 grams of fat. Nutrition facts define the health of this snack. So definitely include it in your daily snacks.
- Fruit Salad / Vegetable Salad Mixing your choice of favorite fruits or vegetables in a bowl with some chaat masala is another snack that can be prepared easily. Fruits and vegetables are good sources of fiber and micronutrients that balance your diet, keeping you satiated for longer and maintaining your weight loss goals.
- Boiled Chana / Sprouts An excellent source of iron, protein, fiber and potassium which not only provides long lasting satiety but also keeps you on track with your overall health and fitness goals.
When is the best time to eat snacks?
Snack should be consumed every 2-3 hours after your main meal. To get the most out of them, consume Indian snacks during the day. If you are battling late night hunger pangs, you can opt for post-dinner snacks like nuts or roasted snacks, provided you have eaten your dinner well before your bedtime. Also make sure that the snack has a low calorie count.
When it comes to healthy nibbles, there are a lot of options available in Indian snacks. These will help you feel full and energized while helping you maintain/lose weight. The old adage ‘you are what you eat’ can be applied here because when you make healthy choices you are making sure you get the most nutritional benefits from snacking.