One of the things that's helped me lose almost thirty pounds (and counting!) since starting my diet back at the beginning of January is having a small arsenal of "go-to" foods that I can eat when the urge to snack strikes. Some of them are what Weight Watchers would refer to as Zero Point foods - i.e., foods that don't count against my daily allowance of points for meals - but others are simply items that are low in fat or carbohydrates. Since I love food and would inevitably self-sabotage any attempt to stick to a diet based on austerity just on basic principle, it's important that whatever foods I do resort to as an alternative to, say, a box of Cheez-Its are sufficiently delicious in their own right.
After about two months of successful dieting, these are my Top 10 alternative snacks, in no particular order:
1. Giardineira. I'm a big fan of pickled anything, so when I'm hungry one of my favorite things to eat even when I'm not trying to lose weight is a nice helping of pickled garden vegetables. There's a Lebanese company called Chtaura that makes giardineira with baby eggplant and turnips as well as the standard accompaniment of cauliflower, carrots, and other veggies - whenever I see their stuff at the local supermarket, I snap it up.
1a. (Regular) Pickles. See #1. Sometimes a nice big crunchy kosher dill is just what the doctor ordered.
2. Pop Chips. These potato puff things are surprisingly low in all of the bad stuff, and the serving size is actually large enough that it doesn't feel like a cruel joke to eat them (unlike other salty snacks). Also, these just happen to go splendidly with...
3. Trader Joe's Red Pepper Spread. I love this stuff like crack. 'Nuff said!
4. Hummus. Any store-bought kind will do, although I will also make my own when I feel like breaking out the food processor. Instead of pita bread or chips, I like to dip them in...
5. Raw carrots. Not "baby carrots," mind you, but the real deal. I don't even peel them, for the full Bugs Bunny experience.
6. Raw celery. This is the salty yang to the sweet carrot's yin. Also good with hummus.
7. Sugar Snap Peas. A bowl of fresh sugar snap peas, raw and with a light sprinkling of salt is the perfect snack. Raw green beans are an acceptable substitute as well.
8. Clementines. Why are these things not in season all year round? By far these are my favorite "snack" fruit, and are the perfect 3pm pick-me-up at the office.
9. Cabot 75% Reduced Fat Cheddar. I've said it here before, and I'll say it again - I am very particular about my cheeses, especially cheddar, but somehow the Cabot Creamery managed to make a low-fat cheese which does not suck, which means I can have a reasonable amount of it and not feel I've train-wrecked my diet.
10. Hormel Turkey Pepperoni. Okay, despite all the rabbit food above I still do occasionally consume meat from time to time, and with a service size of 17 slices this stuff goes a long way at snacktime.
Honorary Mention: Smartfood, a.k.a. The Only Thing In The Library Vending Machine I Can Still Eat With A Clear Conscience.
So there you have it. This list definitely beats unflavored rice cakes, that's for sure!