11 Natural Snacks You're Going to Want to Stock Up On
What Does “Natural” Mean, Anyway?
Since the term “natural” seems vague and mysterious overall, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) attempts to bring some clarity to food packaging with this straightforward definition: A natural product contains no artificial ingredients or added colors and is minimally processed. For Keri Gans, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.N, a Shape Brain Trust member, this interpretation brings about images of whole foods such as berries, nuts, or a piece of fruit, and minimally-processed items that contain only natural ingredients such as almond butter, whole-grain crackers, and yogurt. However, there are a few pre-packed snacks that can fall into this category, too.
What's important to know is that “natural” doesn’t necessarily equal healthy. When choosing any snack, for aim for a food that has at least five grams of protein and three grams of fiber, no more than six grams of added sugar and 150 milligrams of sodium, and minimal saturated fat, says Gans. “You want a snack that will provide enough nutrients that you’ll be satisfied and not want to reach for another 30 minutes later,” says Gans. If you aren't looking to lose or gain weight, you'll want to keep your snack under roughly 200 calories to make sure it doesn't cut into your real meals' energy.
It’s also important to note that some packaged munchies aren’t necessarily going to be a substantial snack on their own, says Gans. If that’s the case, don’t be afraid to pair two small snacks to better hit those guidelines.
So what foods fit the bill as healthy *and* natural snack? Read on for Gans’ picks that hit the spot time and time again.
KIND Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt Bar
This natural snack is Gans’ number one recommendation—and for good reason, too. Packed with almonds and peanuts and drizzled with chocolate, this bar will satisfy your crunchy *and* sweet cravings. In addition to the nuts, this bar contains chicory root fiber, which helps crank the total fiber count up to seven grams per serving.
Nutrition: 1 bar: 180 calories, 15g fat, 140mg sodium, 16g carbohydrates, 7g fiber, 4g added sugar, 6g protein
Blue Diamond Almonds 100-Calorie On-the-Go Bags
With four grams of protein and two grams of fiber, these small packs are ideal for travel or stuck-in-traffic-and-starving situations. They only have one ingredient (spoiler: it’s almonds), making them a good-for-you option if you’re steering clear of extra salt.
Nutrition: 1 cup: 100 calories, 9g fat, 0mg sodium, 4g carbohydrates, 2g fiber, 0g sugar, 4g protein
Egg-Land’s Best Hard-Cooked Peeled Eggs
Hard boiled eggs may not be the first natural snack to come to mind, but Egg-Land’s Best makes munching a hassle-free experience, with no clean-up required. In one 60-calorie egg, you’ll score five grams of protein and just 55 milligrams of sodium. Though they come in a package of six, stick to eating just two eggs at a time, recommends Gans.
Nutrition: 1 egg: 60 calories, 3.5g fat, 55mg sodium, 0g carbohydrates, 0g fiber, 0g sugar, 5g protein
Crazy Richard’s Peanut Butter
When it comes to peanut butter, Gans recommends using varieties that have only peanuts and salt in the ingredient list, like Crazy Richard’s. Swipe one tablespoon of the spread, which offers four grams of protein, on a Wasa Crispbread (Buy It, $19, amazon.com) or slice of 100-percent whole-grain toast for a well-rounded natural snack that’s loaded with fiber. (Related: What's the Difference Between Whole Wheat and Whole Grain?)
Nutrition: 2 tbsp: 190 calories, 16g fat, 0mg sodium, 7g carbohydrates, 3g fiber, 1g sugar, 8g protein
Seapoint Farms Dry Roasted Edamame
With just two ingredients—soybeans and sea salt—this snack is about as natural as they come. The edamame offers a one-two punch of fiber and protein, with eight grams and 13 grams, respectively, in just a 1/3 cup serving. Think of these bites like popcorn, only way better for you.
Nutrition: 1/3 cup: 130 calories, 4g fat, 150mg sodium, 11g carbohydrates, 8g fiber, 1g sugar, 13g protein
Good Beans Roasted Chickpeas
If you haven’t noticed yet, the natural snack category is loaded with good-for-you munchies made from legumes, and these chickpea pops are one more. The pulses are slowly dry roasted to achieve optimum crunch, tossed with a blend of oils, and dusted with coarse sea salt.
Nutrition: 1 oz: 120 calories, 3g fat, 95mg sodium, 18g carbohydrates, 5g fiber, 2g sugar, 6g protein
Chicken of the Sea Premium White Albacore Tuna Pouch
Though this on-the-go tuna pouch has just four ingredients—tuna, water, vegetable broth, and salt—and it’s jam-packed with 16 grams of protein. Gans recommends pairing it with a handful of Finn Crisps (Buy It, $6, amazon.com) to get the fiber needed for a truly satisfying natural snack.
Nutrition: 1 pouch: 80 calories, 1.5g fat, 180mg sodium, 0g carbohydrates, 0g fiber, 0g sugar, 16g protein
Three Farmers Crunchy Little Lentils
Just like its chickpea counterpart, this lentil-based natural snack is lightly roasted with a blend of seasonings to create a crunchy munchie that’s just as tasty as potato chips (seriously, there’s even a barbecue flavor). With five grams of fiber and seven grams of protein, these lentils will keep you fueled through a non-stop workday.
Nutrition (Barbecue Flavor): 1/4 cup: 100 calories, 1g fat, 55mg sodium, 18g carbohydrates, 5g fiber, 1g sugar, 7g protein
Tom & Luke Fruit and Nut Chocolate Snackaballs
If you want a natural snack on the sweeter side, these fruit and nut balls are your best bet. Made from dates, unsweetened chocolate, almonds, coconut, vanilla, and sea salt, the Snackaballs will keep you full longer than any chocolate chip cookie can—and keep your sweet tooth just as happy. (Related: Recipe Ideas for Vegan Energy Balls for Protein In a Pinch)
Nutrition (Original Dark Chocolate): 3 balls: 140 calories, 7g fat, 30mg sodium, 15g carbohydrates, 3g fiber, 0g added sugar, 3g protein
Siggi's Fat-Free Vanilla Yogurt
Coming in with just 110 calories, this creamy, ultra-filling yogurt is one of Gans' favorites. The natural snack has five grams of sugar, which is less than other options on the market, and 15 grams of protein in a single cup. Just sprinkle on some berries for an extra dose of fiber.
Nutrition: 1 container: 110 calories, 0g fat, 55mg sodium, 12g carbohydrates, 0g fiber, 5g added sugar, 15g protein
Biena Girl Scouts Thin Mints Chickpea Snacks
When you’re dearly missing your favorite Girl Scouts cookies, turn to these Thin Mint-flavored chickpeas. The natural snack contains Fair Trade-certified dark chocolate and peppermint flavor to achieve that signature cookie taste, and with four grams of fiber, just a few handfuls will be enough to satisfy your craving. (Related: Healthy Girl Scout Cookie-Inspired Dessert Recipes)
Nutrition: 1 oz: 130 calories, 6g fat, 100mg sodium, 18g carbohydrates, 4g fiber, 5g added sugar, 4g protein