The Mouthful: Easy, Healthy Take-Along Snacks

Is it just me or is it way too easy to spend way too much money on snacks?

No matter how much I try to think ahead, I always seem to find myself ravenous and stuck on campus. Usually I have two options: buy something cheap and unhealthy, or spend far more than I’d like on fresh fruits and veggies.

No more. Here are some of my favorite simple snacks to make ahead of time and bring along. They’re high in protein, use only whole foods, and best of all, they’re dead simple.

Toasted hazelnuts
I have absolutely no idea why raw almonds get all of the healthy-snack love. Hazelnuts are twice as good, and they deserve to be yanked out from beneath chocolate’s shadow. They’re high in fiber and good for your heart, and they develop a beautiful earthy, buttery flavor when toasted. I usually buy a big bag at Trader Joe’s for about $6, and right when I get home I crank up my oven to 425 and pour the whole bag onto my biggest cookie sheet. From there, bake them until they smell toasty and their skins give way, giving the pan a shake in five-minute increments to brown them on all sides. Right when they’re done, pull them out of the oven and pour them onto a big, clean tea towel (woven, please, unless you want to be picking hazelnut skins out of terry cloth for the next three years). Pull up the edges of the towel around the nuts and twist, creating a parcel-like shape. Let the nuts steam in their own heat for a few minutes, then gently roll the parcel on the counter to loosen the nuts from their skins. It’s fine if some skins stay attached. Unwrap the towel, then place nuts in an airtight storage container or Ziploc bag and compost the skins. These keep well for at least a week, and are great as a take-along snack or atop vanilla bean yogurt or steel-cut oatmeal. They’re also yummy while warm, tossed with a bit of melted butter and sea salt.

Crispy chickpeas
I first encountered the magic of crispy chickpeas at Westward, where they’re coated with Aleppo chili and fenugreek and served up as possibly the best bar snack known to man. Hooked, I looked up the technique, and what do you know—one of my favorite food bloggers wrote about it back in 2012. They’re incredibly simple: rinse and pat dry a can of chickpeas, removing whatever skins you can. Toss with just a teaspoon or two of olive oil, then scatter on a cookie sheet and top with a dash of salt and any other spices you’d like (cumin is my favorite). Bake at 425 for 30 minutes, giving the pan a shake halfway through the cooking time. These are at their most crisp when eaten immediately, but they’re not bad the next day either. They also add wonderful texture to salads and soups.

Yeshi popcorn
Yeshi, also known as nutritional yeast, is a deactivated strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae (common brewer’s yeast). It’s available in bulk at natural stores like Central Co-op. Its nutty, rich flavor is similar to parmesan cheese, and it makes a tasty topping for stovetop popcorn. Popcorn is actually a whole grain with many health benefits, as long as it’s not bathed in butter and salt, and it makes a great light snack. To pop it the old-fashioned way, first add a tablespoon of canola or coconut oil to a large pot over high heat. Add a handful of popcorn kernels once the oil has warmed, shake so they’re in an even layer, and cover. Once the kernels start popping, shake the pan often to bring the unpopped kernels to the bottom. Once the popcorn stops popping, pour into a serving bowl and toss with sea salt and nutritional yeast to taste.

Yogurt blueberries
Blueberries are chock full of antioxidants and very freezer-friendly—but they have little protein, and aren’t very filling. Fix that by dipping them in Greek yogurt and sticking them in the freezer. Simply take a pint of washed and dried blueberries, and use a toothpick to dip them in honey Greek yogurt. It’s important that you use Greek yogurt, because regular yogurt will slide off. Place them on a sheet of parchment or waxed paper and put them in the freezer for a few hours. Once they’ve hardened, you can peel them off the paper and store them in the freezer in a freezer bag. These should be consumed quickly once out of the freezer.