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July 10, 2011 8:19 AM   Subscribe

What's the best & most healthy food for when one has 'the munchies'?

Many MeFites occasionally partake of legal herbal products for relaxation and mind expansion. The experiences produced often provoke one to consumption of mass quantities. But, eating a whole bag of potato chips or box of cookies isn't healthy and adds inches to thighs, waists, and butts. So, what healthy but tasty alternatives do you recommend when you feel the need to feed?
posted by Saxon Kane to Food & Drink (33 answers total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
Nuts, fruits, vegetables.
posted by dfriedman at 8:22 AM on July 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Whole wheat crackers with hummus!
Gotta go.
posted by Houyhnhnm at 8:24 AM on July 10, 2011

A friend of mine swears by brussels sprouts, roasted in olive oil with salt and pepper. Prepared in advance, of course.
posted by zoetrope at 8:24 AM on July 10, 2011 [3 favorites]

I like cucumber and carrot sticks but they're not to everyone's tastes. If you don't like them plain, a little home-made salsa (store bought might have sugar added) has negligible calories.
posted by missmagenta at 8:25 AM on July 10, 2011

Ooooo!! I always make sure to keep yogurts and cheeses on hand. When we have the munchies, nothing can stand between me and pb&j!
posted by Sweetmag at 8:27 AM on July 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Kale chips would be awesome in such situations. Salty, umami, crunchy.
posted by padraigin at 8:29 AM on July 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

Fresh fruit, preferably something that comes in individual bits (grapes, cherries, berries) or requires fiddling with for each bite (apple wedges with nut butter; a stick of celery that you dip in nut butter, poke into a dish of raisins, and munch).

Nuts that require opening individually (pistachios, unshelled peanuts — I don't much like unshelled sunflower seeds because they tend to be messy).

Trader Joe's Roasted Seaweed Crack Snack is tasty, comparably munchable to chips (but healthier due to no acrylamide), and 60 calories per package. (Don't buy it through Amazon; they charge about $2.60 a package compared to TJ's $0.99 a package.)

Hummus with carrots and celery.
posted by Lexica at 8:33 AM on July 10, 2011

Blueberries. Carrot sticks. Sliced cucumber or zucchini. Soy nuts. Sliced peaches or frozen blueberries with a bit of yogurt instead of ice cream.
posted by RedEmma at 8:35 AM on July 10, 2011

air popped corn
posted by canoehead at 8:37 AM on July 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Frozen peas
posted by John Cohen at 8:38 AM on July 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

I love fuits/veggies.
I can devour hummus like its no ones business.
watermelon/honey dew is awesome.
posted by handbanana at 8:41 AM on July 10, 2011

Someone who isn't me has been known to enjoy all types of foods in that state. I think it's just that Doritos are or seem easier than healthful/nutritious foods. So, easy snackables: veggies with peanut butter, hummus, and/or dip is pretty easy, especially if the veggies are already washed/sliced. Preparing in advance can also open up a whole world of other foods: fish, salad, a pasta dish with all kinds of good things in it.
posted by J. Wilson at 8:43 AM on July 10, 2011

tortilla chips and salsa
posted by Gilbert at 9:00 AM on July 10, 2011

Rice cakes are pretty low cal.
posted by QuarterlyProphet at 9:18 AM on July 10, 2011

highly spiced (kimchi, hot chili, wasabi... preferably without MSG) nori/laver.
Also, pickles and pickle juice. I obviously have an affinity for strong flavors.
posted by hasna at 9:22 AM on July 10, 2011

Quick question - Do you want to minimize calories, or just want to make sure you don't snack on complete crap?

If calories, avoid nuts, cheeses, chips/crackers/cookies, even fruits and berries; and stick with things like celery or carrot sticks (WITHOUT peanut-butter or cream cheese or hummus). The exception here, if you know that a modest handful of nuts or a small piece of bittersweet chocolate or something like that will satisfy the craving, go for it.

If you just want to avoid eating garbage, pretty much anything that doesn't come in an airtight bag will do.

Personally, I usually go for the most protein-dense bar I can get. They have a reasonably low calorie count, satisfy most legitimate* cravings, and have pretty decent nutritional value.

* Note the word "legitimate". If you get cravings simply out of boredom, the right answer to your question doesn't involve a food at all, but a hobby or going for a walk or something like that. :)
posted by pla at 9:27 AM on July 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

Frozen grapes.
posted by theredpen at 9:35 AM on July 10, 2011 [3 favorites]

Beef jerky. It is filled to the brim with salt, so if that's a health concern for you, watch out - but otherwise it is pretty much entirely protein. The salty beefiness and the chewy texture should make it interesting for these sorts of munchies, too!
posted by alaijmw at 9:40 AM on July 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

edamame and seconding the brussel sprouts in olive oil. we like ours done on a cast iron skillet
posted by i_love_squirrels at 9:53 AM on July 10, 2011

Nthing the fruit & veggies selections. :)

Unsweetened, whole grain cereal is a fave of mine. (Cheerios in particular.)
posted by luckynerd at 9:58 AM on July 10, 2011

Celery and carrot sticks dipped in ranch and wing sauce. It's like part of the hotwing-eating experience, but without the greasy meat part. (Okay I know ranch and wing sauce are not THAT healthy but still, cutting the fried chicken out of the equation is still a pretty good step in the right direction.) I also eat that mixture on tomatoes and sugar snap peas . . . and frozen pizza. In fact, a person (who is not me) would probably find that sauce mix delicious on practically anything in that state of mind.
posted by GastrocNemesis at 11:28 AM on July 10, 2011

Fat-free cottage cheese with cut-up strawberries. Has carbs, a good amount of protein, and a sensible number of calories (it's also DELICIOUS). Can't really go wrong there, unless you eat like 3 bowls or something.
posted by Evernix at 11:28 AM on July 10, 2011

Oh! Also awesome and easy: grab a spoonful of peanut butter and a banana. Peel the banana only down one side, use the peanut-buttery spoon to scoop out the banana one bite-sized piece at a time. Grab a bit of the peanut butter off the spoon with each bite of banana. Bonus: the only thing you have to clean up is a spoon!
posted by GastrocNemesis at 11:34 AM on July 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Trail mix.
posted by empath at 11:35 AM on July 10, 2011

I enjoy making 4 pieces of toast but topping one with Peanut Butter, one with butter and jam, one with Pesto and one with butter garlic powder and redhot cayenne pepper sauce. Cut each one up into multiple bites and eat as desired. I figured that toast is as neutral of a vehicle as you can get and the complete melange of different flavors is really nice.
posted by koolkat at 11:41 AM on July 10, 2011

Barbara's Shredded Oats.
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:43 AM on July 10, 2011

Dried fruits are good. I like dried (unsweetened) pineapple, cherries, mangoes. The mangoes have a good fruit-leathery texture.

Avocado with hotsauce, eaten with a spoon out of the skin?

Sigh. I definitely know it's important to keep these things on hand, to avoid the tempation of leaving the house. Especially late at night, you won't find anything unshitty.
posted by TheRedArmy at 12:23 PM on July 10, 2011

Those real fruit popsicles. Especially the mixed berry ones.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 12:36 PM on July 10, 2011

The best choice is always vegetables: baby carrots, roasted (or raw) cauliflower, snow peas, broccoli, mushrooms, etc. Get a veggie tray from the supermarket if you're feeling lazy, or cut 'em up yourself. Add a handful of olives and/or pickles for variety. Be sure to throw away the ranch -- I like to accompany veggies with a healthy dipping sauce made of plain yogurt mixed with chopped garlic, curry powder, and/or cayenne. The spicier, the better: it'll help control your snacking and encourage you to get more fluids.

It helps to strategically prepare a big, healthy dinner right before you indulge, too. You can't go wrong with a massive salad, or a big pot of stew, or even a piece of meat or fish accompanied by piles of roasted veggies.
posted by vorfeed at 12:42 PM on July 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

If you are going to eat nuts, watch for the polyunsaturated fat omega-6 content. That stuff is no good.
posted by SouthCNorthNY at 7:16 PM on July 10, 2011

Almonds. Eat almonds. Pistachios are good, too.
posted by quadog at 11:54 PM on July 10, 2011

Perhaps something from The Vegan Stoner?
posted by MsMolly at 11:18 AM on July 11, 2011

Pickles and Peanuts are my favorite snacks. High on sodium though, so probably don't get the salted peanuts like I do.
posted by XhaustedProphet at 11:35 PM on July 11, 2011

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