6 Healthy Snacks When Veggies Just Won’t Do

Article posted in: Diet & Nutrition
Homemade chocolate ice cream with chocolate chips.

Making better choices more often is, of course, part of turning a weight loss program into a long-lasting healthy lifestyle. Which means trading in salty, high-calorie, mindless snacking in favor of mindful eating, nutrient-dense bowls and bags of fruits and veggies is a must.

But sometimes you’ve got a craving, and all the plant food on the planet won’t fix it. Even our Nutrisystem dietitians agree: When you’ve got a real craving—not a passing fancy, but an honest-to-goodness, mind-hijacking hankering—only satisfying that craving for salty or sweet or chocolatey will make it go away. So a good weight loss program has strategies and solutions to help you calm and crush those cravings … like the six below.

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When you’re craving something SWEET:

Try these ridiculously easy, No-Bake Peanut Butter Granola Bars. But be warned: They’re addictive, so you’ll need some self-control to stick with eating just one per snack! On the Nutrisystem diet plan, count these tasty treats as one SmartCarb and one PowerFuel.

To make them, you’ll need:

  • 1 cup of peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Non-stick cooking spray

Here’s what to do:

  1. Bring a small pot to medium heat on the stove.
  2. Add the peanut butter and honey to the pot, stirring until they’re combined.
  3. Remove from the heat and then mix in the rolled oats and chocolate chips.
  4. Spray an 8×8 baking pan with cooking spray.
  5. Pour the warm mixture into the pan, and spread and flatten it.
  6. Put in the freezer for 30 minutes or until set. Cut into 16 bars, and transfer them to the fridge.

Check out this video to see how they’re made:

When you’re craving CRUNCHY and SALTY:

Try changing up your popcorn topping—a cup of lightly salted, air-popped popcorn is a great snack, but it can get boring. Try these three suggestions for new takes on this easy snack.

  1. Choco-fy it: After the popcorn is popped, lay one cup out evenly on a small baking sheet or pan. Use a light touch and drizzle one tablespoon (total!) of sugar-free chocolate syrup on the kernels, then pop them in the freezer until the syrup hardens. You can give these a gourmet touch with a little bit of sea salt or some cayenne pepper for spice. On the Nutrisystem diet plan? This recipe counts as two Extras. Want to swap the sugar-free syrup for the real deal? Count the recipe as two-and-a-half Extras.
  2. Spice it up: Speaking of cayenne, try this: Mix 1 teaspoon each of cayenne pepper, ground coriander, and ground cumin in a bowl. Put this with the popped popcorn in a large bag, and shake it up for a spicy, taco-like flavor. One cup of this tasty treat counts as one Extra on the Nutrisystem diet plan.
  3. Garlic and ginger: Mix together a teaspoon of garlic powder and 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger (it’s very potent). Again, put this in a bag with the popcorn and give it a shake. One cup counts as one Extra on the Nutrisystem diet plan.

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When you’re craving CHOCOLATE:

Make these simple-yet-elegant Peanut Butter Truffles. They’re just like getting a box of chocolates—except you know what’s in every bite, and they’re all awesome. Each truffle is a snack-sized serving that counts as one PowerFuel on Nutrisystem.

To make them, you’ll need:

  • 1 cup of peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Here’s what to do:

  1. Spoon the peanut butter into a bowl and let it firm up in the freezer.
  2. While that’s getting cold, melt the chocolate. Using a metal bowl on top of a pot with a small amount of water (or, if you have it, a double-boiler), melt the chocolate chips.
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. Take the peanut butter out of the freezer and roll it into 16 uniform balls. Place these on the parchment paper, and stick them back in the freezer for a few minutes to firm back up.
  5. Remove the balls from the freezer and spoon a little chocolate over each.
  6. Put the tray back in the freezer until the chocolate has hardened.

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When you’re craving something CREAMY:

You can make your own healthy ice cream, like magic, from a banana. One caveat: You’ll need a pretty powerful blender. Count this delicious dessert as one PowerFuel, one SmartCarb and one Extra on the Nutrisystem diet plan.

To make it, you’ll need:

  • 1/4 cup powdered peanut butter
  • 1 medium banana, peeled and frozen
  • 1 Tbsp sugar-free chocolate syrup

Here’s what to do:

  1. Break up the frozen banana into your blender, then add the other two ingredients.
  2. Mix until it has a soft serve-like texture.
  3. Enjoy right away, because it won’t keep!

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When you’re craving something CHEESY:

Up the volume of a grilled cheese sandwich (and reduce its calories) by going open-faced and beefing up the sandwich with tomato slices and some spinach leaves (you had to know we’d sneak in a few healthy veggies!). Start by sautéing a half cup each of the spinach and tomatoes in a pan greased with non-stick spray for about two minutes. Use a single slice of whole-grain bread, then top with the veggies and a slice of low-fat cheese, and melt it in the oven on broil. Count this recipe as one SmartCarb, one PowerFuel and a half Vegetable serving on the Nutrisystem diet plan.

If you feel like you can go completely bread-free, try swapping it for a pair of portabella mushrooms that you stuff with cheese—this is how big burger chains like Shake Shack make awesome veggie burgers, and the mushrooms are firm enough to hold like a bun. This one-serving recipe counts as one PowerFuel and two Vegetable servings on the Nutrisystem diet plan.

To make one, you’ll need:

  • 2 large portabella mushroom caps
  • 1 slice low-fat cheese, like mozzarella, torn into shreds
  • Zero-calorie cooking spray
  • Small handful of arugula (optional)

Here’s what to do:

  1. Remove the stem of each mushroom cap, and use a spoon to scrape out some of the ribs, creating two “bowls.”
  2. Fill one mushroom with some arugula, and top with the cheese. Put the other mushroom on top.
  3. Heat a nonstick pan or grill pan to medium heat. Spray with cooking spray.
  4. Add the mushroom sandwich to the pan, cooking for about 5 minutes.
  5. Spray the top mushroom with more cooking spray, and flip the sandwich. Allow to cook for another 5 minutes, or until the mushrooms get juicy.
  6. Allow to stand for 2 minutes before eating.

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When you wake up craving something GOOEY:

Try this unbelievably fast, three-ingredient blueberry crisp that’s ready in about 2 minutes. It’s warm, gooey, sweet, and an awesome, healthy breakfast you can have anytime. This tasty treat counts as one Nutrisystem breakfast and one SmartCarb.

To make it you’ll need:

Here’s what to do:

  1. In a microwave-safe bowl, pour in the blueberries, then the oatmeal. Don’t mix it up. Pour the water on top.
  2. Microwave for about 60 seconds, or until the blueberries get tender.