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The swap: Healthy alternatives to afternoon snacks

Photo: Leelalicious.com
Photo: Leelalicious.com

We are all guilty of it: there’s just a couple hours left in the work day, hunger strikes and you grab a snack knowing its low nutritional value. The 3:00 p.m. snack time is the perfect time to get away from the desk for a few minutes while nibbling on a little something to tide you over until dinner. The problem is that when feeling a bit peckish late in the afternoon, choosing the unhealthy option is all too easy. Setting aside just a little food preparation time each week will save you. Here we come up with healthy alternatives to common snacking mistakes.

Cafe cookie vs. homemade breakfast cookie:  It’s easy to give in to the cookie craving when seeing your favourite kinds in the glass case of your favourite cafe. Not all cookies are created equal and the good news is that not all cookies are totally bad for you either. In general, goods that you bake yourself are better. And recipes like this breakfast cookie are loaded with fruit, oats, seeds and best of all: no butter. Now that’s a cookie worth indulging in.

Photo: Fivehearthome.com

Chips vs popcorn: Popcorn kind of has an undeserved reputation as being an unhealthy snack. Sure, if you’re munching on movie theatre popcorn doused in fake butter, you haven’t made the best choice. However, swap the butter for toppings like a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese combined with rosemary, and you’ve got yourself a nice mid-day snack. This recipe is simple and a smart savoury swap for your bag of all dressed chips.

Brownie vs chocolate protein bar: Similar to the cookie, that brownie can be tempting when just sitting right in front of you as you go to order your afternoon cup of tea. A snack like a protein bar though can Homemade protein barssatisfy that chocolate craving you’ve been having as you plug through the afternoon slump however it can serve to give you a power boost rather than drag you down like many sugar-laden snacks do. Try this protein bar from our blogger, Kim Doerksen. The combination of banana, peanut butter and chocolate is to die for.

Vikes Trail Mix Photo by James Ramsay; Food Stylist: Susan Benson CohenMuffin vs trail mix: It seems to be a well-known fact that that muffin you were about to grab is really just a cake without the icing. Muffins have a better reputation than cupcakes but when you break down the ingredients, they have just as much butter and nearly as much sugar. Sure, there may be no icing to top off that yummy snack but chocolate chips and a layer of icing sugar as garnishes are not much better. The good news is that a fun trail mix can still satisfy the desire for sweet cinnamon or crunchy oats– you just get less of the bad stuff. Try one of our suggestions for the perfect blend, like our “Feels like fall” trail mix.


Cheddar scone vs low-fat lemon scone: This lemon scone goes well with the afternoon coffee but will feel light in the tummy. Bake your own batch on the weekend or beginning of the week so as not to have to worry about what to snack on. To make it even healthier, swap out the butter and use mashed avocado or coconut oil instead.