From maintaining your blood sugar to satiety levels before your next meal, the importance of snacks cannot be more emphasized. Healthy snacking between meals not only helps keep your hunger at bay but also prevents you from overeating.
Unfortunately, due to the number of fad diets that have popped up, Indian snacks have developed a bad reputation. When one thinks of Indian snacks, images of hot samosas, onion kachoris, and gol gappe or pani puri come to mind. However, this is not the entire spectrum of these snacks, just the not so healthy versions of it! When it comes to choosing healthy snacks of Indian origin, there are many wholesome options and are also packed with nutritive benefits.
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Why are Snacks Necessary in a 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 student in high school, a working professional, a stay-at-home parent, or an athlete, everyone can benefit from healthy snacking.
There are many health advantages which include:
1) Improvement in focus, productivity, and reduction in stress.
Healthy snacks provide a boost of energy. Many research studies have demonstrated that students and employees who indulge in snacks during the day had more energy, mental acuity, and overall performance.
2) Effective Weight Control
Choosing healthy snacks helps you avoid extreme hunger. Everyone can recall those times when you’ve waited till the last minute to grab a bite to eat because you were so busy at work. What did you end up grabbing? Likely something that was very unhealthy!
Nutritionists recommend that eating smaller meals throughout the day, at 3 hour intervals will prevent the urge to binge eat. This is especially recommended during active times.
While you make sure to have your mid-meal snacks at regular intervals, it is equally crucial to indulge in healthy snacking. This will stop you from reaching for a box of doughnuts or a chocolate bar from the vending machine.
3) Helps Curb Cravings
Blood sugar levels fluctuate throughout the day, but they tend to drop about 3 to 5 hours after you’ve eaten. Consuming small yet frequent snacks not only revs up the metabolism but normalizes blood sugar levels as well. Hunger throws the body into famine mode; slowing down metabolism, which will only increase your weight.
Snacks such as fruits, low-fat dairy products, nuts, legumes, and whole grains contain lots of nutrition giving you a feeling of satisfaction for long. They also prevent you from succumbing to your sweet tooth or caffeine addiction.
4) Maintains Mood
Food is fuel. Some foods will give you a rush of fuel and crash very quickly while others will give you slow and consistent source 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 do provide a jolt of energy, it is quickly followed by a painful crash which can leave you feeling cranky, hungry, and unable to focus.
Healthy snacks provide slow-burning fuel keeping you energetic for the entire day. You won’t experience dips in moods or alertness. In fact, you will likely feel and look like a happier person.
How do you know if your snack is healthy or not?
Here’s one way to do it – check the “Nutrition Facts” label on the back of the product. Here you will be given facts about that particular snack according to serving size. You can expect to find information such as the calories per serving, fat, sodium, sugar, carbohydrates, protein, iron content, and other vital information.
Depending on your health concern or focus, choose your snack wisely. If you prefer low sodium foods, then opt for snacks with low or zero amounts of sodium. Similarly, if you’re opting for a heart-friendly diet, then consider low-fat options.
As a part of healthy eating, consider the following rules when choosing healthy snacks:
- Avoid products with high sugar or sodium content.
- Select foods with low fat and sugar, but high fibre.
- Nuts are a healthy option, but they have a small serving size.
- Always take the portion size recommended on the nutrition facts label. Taking too much promotes 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 offer the best nutrition. Tetra pack juices contain too much sugar and don’t offer much nutrition.
- Avoid foods that have corn syrup listed as one of the ingredients.
- To maintain satiety levels, always pair complex carbs and proteins together. This will keep you feeling full for a long time. Examples include wheat crackers with peanut butter, cheese and apple, fresh fruit and yoghurt, etc.
8 Healthy Indian Snacks That You Can Indulge in Guilt-Free!
1) Besan Khandvi
This popular Gujarati snack is made from natural ingredients like chickpea flour, yoghurt, sesame and mustard seeds. Khandvi is steamed and tempered with various seasonings.
A single serving of khandvi is about 100 grams which contains about 200 calories. This delicious snack is packed with nutrients. It’s high in protein while being gluten-free. This helps regulate blood pressure and hunger pangs.
Khandvi contains other nutrients such as fibre, manganese, zinc, iron, and calcium. This is the ideal snack to carry, as it provides a balance between protein and carbs.
One of Gujarat’s most popular Indian snacks, it is made from fermented chickpea and rice batter. Dhokla can be eaten as a snack or for a light breakfast. What makes dhokla healthy is that a single serving contains 283 calories, 11 grams of protein, and zero cholesterol. This snack is also a good source of iron, magnesium, and calcium.
3) Yoghurt/Curd Sandwich
Everyone loves sandwiches, and luckily they make the perfect snack. You can try making yoghurt sandwiches at home. Yogurt sandwiches are made from thick curds, whole wheat bread slices, fresh vegetables like grated carrots, cabbage, onions, bell peppers, fresh coriander, black pepper, and salt.
One yogurt sandwich contains 200 calories. This delicious snack is low in fat but high in fiber and good amounts of protein. It also contains calcium, Vitamin A and C, and iron.
4) Paneer Wrap/Kathi Roll
This is Bengal’s one of many mouth-watering Indian snacks. A popular street food, when Kathi roll is made at home, it is filled with nutritive benefits. It is made from a variety of sautéed vegetables with chili sauce and wrapped in thin bread made from whole wheat or grain flour. You can opt for a vegetarian or non-vegetarian version of this snack.
A single Kathi roll ranges from 260 to 350 calories. It’s 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 ample amounts of protein.
A steamed delight from South India, idlis can be consumed as a breakfast or lunch item and even as a snack. Usually made from fermented rice and urad dal batter, you can also make them from many other ingredients like semolina, oatmeal, ragi, etc.
Single, medium-sized idli contains just 36 calories, 2grams of protein and 8 grams of carbohydrates. Idlis also contain iron and calcium. This is a perfect combination to keep you full and your blood sugar levels maintained.
Another Southern delight, dosa is loved by all. This is another snack made from fermented rice and urad dal batter. There are many variations that can be made from sprouted moong dal, oatmeal, quinoa, ragi, and semolina.
A single, plain dosa contains 133 calories with a majority of it coming from carbohydrates and proteins. Dosa also contains iron, potassium, and calcium, making it another all-rounder snack. But we do recommend that you make dosas at home and have them as they are much more healthy and less oily compared to the ones that are made in restaurants.
7) Baked Samosa
The samosa is perhaps the king of Indian snacks. Although its origins lie in Northern India, it exists in many forms. This delicious snack is full of calories when you opt for the fried version, but luckily a baked samosa can still satisfy your cravings without the fat. A single baked samosa contains 120 calories and plenty of fibre.
The potato and peas stuffing will also give you plenty of Vitamin C. Apart from the potato and peas filling, there are other healthy options like minced chicken, minced paneer or paneer with mixed vegetables that you can opt for. This will not only increase the nutrients quality of the samosa but also elevates the taste of it.
8) Bhel Puri without chutney
A savory snack from Central parts of India, it is made from puffed rice, mixed spices, peanuts, vegetables and drizzle of tamarind chutney. To snack this delicacy, guilt- free, you can avoid chutneys and load it with fresh vegetables, nuts and herbs.
A single serving of bhel puri has only 60 calories accompanied by an ideal combination of good protein and complex carbs. Similarly, you can try different chaats made from boiled chickpeas or whole moong.
Some other healthy options that you can snack on easily with not much of preparation are –
- Nuts – A snack that is not only easily accessible but also offers a number of nutritional benefits. From pistachios to cashews to walnuts, and almonds, there is a nut to suit everyone’s taste buds. These are high in protein and good fats that imparts you with sound physiological and mental health. So, grab a handful of nuts to not only curb your hunger but to keep yourself feeling full for long.
- Makhana – Makhanas are an excellent choice for an evening snack as they are rich sources of protein containing very less fat content. They are easily available in the market. Roasting them dry in a pan (with/without a bit of ghee) and sprinkling some salt and paprika make for a mouth watering nutritious snack that you must try and include in your diet.
- Popcorn – A high fiber snack that requires very less preparation time, is the snack to go to when hungry. 100g of popcorn provides you with 6g of carbohydrates, 11g of protein, and 0g of fats. The nutritional facts define the healthiness of this snack. So, be sure to add it to your everyday snacks.
- Fruit salad/vegetable salad – Mixing a choice of your favorite fruits or vegetables in a bowl with some chat masala is one other snack that can be easily prepared. Fruits and vegetables are good sources of fiber and micronutrients that balance your diet, thereby keeping you satiated and maintaining your weight loss goals in the long run.
- Boiled chana/ sprouts – A very good source of iron, protein, fiber and potassium that not only provide satiety for long but keeps you on track with your overall health and fitness goals.
When Is The Best Time To Consume Snacks?
Snacks should be consumed at every 2-3 hour intervals after your main meals. To gain the most value from them, consume Indian snacks during the day. If you are struggling with late-night hunger pangs, you can opt for a post-dinner snack like nuts or roasted snacks, provided you have eaten your dinner well ahead of your bed-time. Also make sure that the snack is of low in caloric content.
When it comes to healthy munching, there are plenty of options available among Indian snacks. These will help you feel full and energetic 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 nutritious benefits from snacking.