Best Healthy Foods On the Go

Six simple snack swaps to keep you healthy and slim for bikini season.
  1. Go for graham crackers, not cookies

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    Don’t be a cookie monster! “While today’s graham crackers are a vast departure from the original health biscuit and contain nowhere near the protein and fiber, there are still some merits to eating them, especially as a substitution for a fat- and sugar-laden cookie,” advises Nicolette M. Pace, founder and president of NutriSource. Graham crackers’ other advantages have to do with their shape: With their perforated design, you can easily control portions, and two full sheets looks like a plentiful portion but only comes in at about 120 calories, which helps to build psychological satisfaction. 

    Tip: Health Valley’s Oat Bran and Amaranth Graham Crackers are both made with whole-grain flour and contain a healthy three grams of fiber per serving.

  2. Eat dark chocolate, not candy

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    If you’re going to eat chocolate, be choosy. The benefits of eating high-quality dark chocolate come from a unique plant chemical profile found in cocoa. According to Pace, studies are uncovering many benefits to eating a modest amount of this sweet indulgence. “The flavonoids and other antioxidants in cocoa help to strengthen cells and tissues and may be good for cardiovascular health and blood pressure. Also, eating dark chocolate has helped improve levels of stress hormones, helping to stabilize mood,” she notes. Meanwhile, most candy just supplies concentrated sugar, which may give you a quick boost but is hardly healthy. Just be sure to keep your portions of dark chocolate modest: You can have too much of a good thing.

  3. Choose kale chips, not regular chips

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    While kale chip are nothing like Doritos (sorry!), they’re wildly healthier for you. Kale chips have fiber, manganese, calcium, copper and vitamins A, K and C. According to Pace, the vegetable’s antioxidants may even help you lower your risk of some cancers. Plus, most kale chips are baked, so they won’t have the fat that regular chips do. Conventional chips also tend to be processed, and many have chemical flavoring additives and skimp on nutritional value.

  4. Grab fresh fruit, not dried fruit

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    Dried fruit seems like a healthy snack, but oftentimes dried fruit is packed with extra sugar. If you do opt for dried fruit, check the label to make sure there’s no sugar added. (Hint: All cranberries have added sugar.) While both fresh and dried fruit have fiber and vitamins, dried fruit will have less vitamin C, which is a heat-sensitive nutrient. Says Pace, “Fresh fruit gives you the most nature has to offer: natural, unprocessed sugar, fiber and water.” Because dried fruit is missing water, you fill up on it less quickly, giving you the potential to eat more, leading to an excess of calories and sugar. Still need convincing? Plums, peaches and other summer fruits are at their best in July and August -- eat up!

    Healthy hint: Pace’s favorite summer snacks are cubes of fresh watermelon and cherry tomatoes sprinkled with sea salt.

  5. Eat mixed nuts, not cereal mix

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    Cereal mixes like Chex Mix may seem like a healthy alternative to chips, but they’re not a great choice. Mixed nuts, on the other hand, will provide an assortment of trace minerals like calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, zinc and selenium. According to Pace, cereal mix contains low-fiber starch and lots of salt, mixed with some peanuts (peanuts, by the way, are not nuts; rather, they’re legumes). Pace points out that peanuts are not unhealthy: They do contain healthy fat, protein, fiber and some minerals, but they’re lost in a snack mix with too high a ratio of starch and salt.

  6. Eat a better bar

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    Not all granola and cereal bars are created equal. “Most granola bars are really cookies masquerading as a healthy cereal bar,” says Pace, who recommends taking a minute to figure out what you really want. “Sometimes it’s smart to just grab the cookie and satisfy the indulgence you crave; you may even come in with less calories than the granola bar!” she says. However, if you’re looking for a healthy on-the-go breakfast, you can find the best choice by looking for a bar that has protein (10 grams) and fiber (5 grams) and less than 150 calories.

    The Nest pick: Your Nest editors are also crazy for KIND bars, which don’t quite meet Pace’s criteria, but the extra calories come from healthy nuts, so we’ll make an exception -- just this once.