How to Build a Balanced Snack (+22 Balanced Snack Ideas)

balanced snack

Are your current snack choices leaving you wanting more, and more?

A lot of the snacks we typically grab on a day-to-day basis consist of ultra-processed foods like crisps, biscuits and chocolate, and whilst these are undoubtedly tasty, they aren’t the most nutritious or filling.

But there is a way to snack that is both satisfying and nourishing! Introducing: balanced snacks.

Healthy Snacking 101

To snack or not to snack? This is a question I get asked a lot as a nutritionist. But the answer isn’t as simple as ‘Yes you should snack’ or ‘No you shouldn’t snack’. It’s completely down to your preferences and needs.

For some people, such as athletes with larger energy requirements, snacking is essential to getting all the energy and nutrients they need to function. Whereas other people might find that they prefer 3 square meals a day and don’t feel the need to snack. Neither is necessarily better or worse.

But, when it comes to healthy snacking, the most important thing to consider is the type of snacks you are having – with balanced snacks being the best option for feeling optimally fuelled and nourished.

What Are Balanced Snacks?

Balanced snacks include all 3 macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats. Compared to unbalanced snacks, such as those that are very carbohydrate-heavy (e.g. sweets), these snacks help curb your hunger for longer and balance out your energy levels.

But, balanced snacks are not just a great hunger fix, they’re also a great opportunity to get more nutrients into your diet! So, let’s look at how we can build a balanced snack that’s packed with nutrients.

How to Build a Balanced Snack

To build a balanced snack, I follow this simple 4-step formula:

1. Start With a Carbohydrate

2. Add Some Protein

High-protein foods (such as legumes, tofu, nuts, seeds, fish and meat) can help slow down our digestion and increase the sensation of fullness. This is why protein is an important part of any balanced snack, as it can help you feel more satisfied until your next meal.

3. Include Some Healthy Fats

Fats help us absorb fat-soluble vitamins in our diet and can also help slow down the rate of digestion. However, some fats are considered healthier than others, so it’s these ‘healthy fats’ that we should aim to include within our balanced snacks. These include avocados, nuts, seeds and olives, as these are mostly composed of unsaturated fats that are beneficial to our health (as opposed to saturated fats).

4. Maximise the Number of Plants

Eating more plants can be challenging, but if you see snacking as an opportunity to add more plants to your diet, you’ll be able to achieve 30 plants a week in no time. Add an extra portion of fruit, veggies, nuts or seeds to your snacks to help get more variety into your diet.

22 Balanced Snack Ideas (that help boost your plant points)

Below is a list of my favourite balanced snack ideas and instructions on how to make them. Each of the snacks listed below includes at least 1 plant point, so you can incorporate these snacks into your meal plan to help you achieve 30 plants a week.

List of 22 balanced snack ideas

1. Crackers topped with strawberry and cottage cheese

Spread cottage cheese on wholegrain crackers (I like using Ryvita), then top with fresh sliced strawberries. Sprinkle chia seeds for added texture and drizzle honey for a touch of sweetness.

2. Trail mix

Create a custom trail mix by combining your favourite nuts (like almonds, cashews, and walnuts) with a mix of dried fruits (such as raisins, apricots, and cranberries). Keeping this trail mix varied will help you get even more plant points!

cottage cheese and strawberry crackers

3. Courgette fritters served with tzatziki

Grate courgettes and mix them with whole wheat breadcrumbs, eggs, and herbs, then fry into golden fritters. Serve with a side of creamy tzatziki for a tasty balanced snack.

4. Caprese skewers

Thread different coloured cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil leaves onto skewers and drizzle with balsamic glaze for a delicious Italian-style snack. For some extra plant points, add some sliced radish, olives and bell pepper!

Caprese skewers

5. Rice cakes with nut butter and banana

Spread your preferred nut butter on rice cakes and add slices of ripe banana for a quick and satisfying balanced snack.

6. Mashed avocado on a slice of seeded toast

Mash a ripe avocado and spread it over a slice of seeded toast. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper, and add a drizzle of sriracha if you’re in the mood for a spicy kick.

7. Balanced Smoothie

Smoothies are a great snack option that can be packed with nutrients. But most of the smoothies in the supermarket are low in protein and healthy fats, as they’re mostly made up of fruit.

8. Homemade guacamole with tortilla chips

This snack is lower in protein, but the healthy fats from the avocado will help you feel more satisfied than if you were to eat crisps or tortilla chips on their own – so it’s definitely worth a mention here for any crisp lovers!

To make the guacamole, simply mash ripe avocados and mix with diced tomatoes, onions, coriander, lime juice, and a pinch of salt. Then serve with crispy tortilla chips. For extra fibre, try making your own tortilla chips at home with whole wheat tortillas.

9. Greek salad skewers

Thread cherry tomatoes, cucumber chunks, olives, and cubes of feta cheese onto skewers. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with oregano.

roasted chickpeas

10. Roasted chickpeas

Chickpeas are a source of fibre and protein, making them a great addition to any balanced snack.

For a super simple snack, toss some canned chickpeas (drained, washed and dried) in olive oil, cumin, paprika, and a pinch of salt. Then roast them in the oven until golden and crisp.

11. Tuna and sweetcorn mayo lettuce cups

Mix canned tuna, sweetcorn, mayonnaise, and a dash of lemon juice. Spoon the mixture into lettuce cups for a protein-packed balanced snack.

12. Veg sticks with houmous

Slice different coloured bell peppers, cucumbers, and carrots into sticks and serve with a side of creamy houmous.

greek yoghurt bowl

13. Greek yoghurt bowl

Spoon creamy Greek yoghurt into a bowl and top with fresh fruits of your choice and flaked almonds. Add a couple of spoonfuls of granola or muesli for some extra carbs (e.g. as a pre-workout snack).

14. Homemade kale chips with edamame

Toss kale leaves in olive oil and bake until crispy. Serve alongside steamed edamame for a nutrient-packed balanced snack.

15. Topped apple slices

Slice apples and spread with your favourite nut butter. Sprinkle with a mixture of seeds (such as chia, flax and sunflower) for extra crunch and nutrients.

energy balls

16. Homemade energy balls

Blend oats, nut butter, dates, and seeds (like chia, flax and sunflower) into a sticky mixture. Roll into bite-sized balls for an energy-boosting, balanced snack.

17. Avocado, tofu and vegetable sushi rolls

Roll strips of avocado, tofu, and assorted vegetables in sheets of seaweed and sushi rice. Slice into bite-sized rolls and serve with a side of soy sauce.

18. Nutty chocolate bananas

Dip banana slices in melted dark chocolate, then sprinkle with chopped nuts. Put in the freezer for an hour or so, then enjoy!

19. Cucumber smoked salmon bites

Spread cream cheese on cucumber slices and top with smoked salmon. Add some fresh dill for an extra dose of plants!

falafel and houmous

20. Falafel with a spicy houmous dip

Serve falafel alongside spicy homemade houmous for a tasty, balanced Middle Eastern-inspired snack.

21. Mini muffin tin frittatas

Whisk eggs and mix with sautéed spinach, halved cherry tomatoes, and crumbled feta cheese. Bake in a mini muffin tin until cooked and have them as a high-protein on-the-go snack.

22. Roasted cauliflower with a spicy tahini dressing

balanced snacks
how to build a balanced snack

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *