NOT SURPRISING: One third of Americans admit that they’re snacking more than they were before the pandemic, according to the 2020 Food and Health Survey.
Actually kind of surprising: Most people are maintaining their weight despite this snack bonanza, a 2020 survey from the research firm Hunter found.
You could credit shelter-in-place go-getters who have taken control of their diet by grocery shopping more and dining out less. But some of the kudos should go to snack companies. Really.
Even before the cluster that is COVID-19 hit, consumer demand for healthy snacks had led companies to start making healthier products. (Enter the kale chip.)
Over time, that pipeline of new products aligned with a rise in more nutrition-minded, captains-of- their-kitchens consumers, and whammo, we now find ourselves in the midst of a healthy-snack boom.
All that said, a great-tasting, truly nutritious snack can still be hard to find. For every bag of healthful salmon-skin chips (a real thing), there’s also a box of not-so-healthful Totino’s mozzarella-filled Takis Fuego Bites (also a real thing).
So we crunched and munched our way through the buffet of new healthy-ish snack items. We read their (sometimes bizarrely long) ingredient lists. And we weighed their nutrition numbers.
What makes a snack the “best,” anyway? A winning snack contains a decent dose of protein or fiber (ideally both), is lower in calories than other snacks, and has minimal added sugars, if any. We prize short ingredient lists over long ones. And taste is the deciding factor. Even if a snack hits all the nutrition numbers, if it tastes like tree bark, we leave it off the list.
For the purposes of building muscle and feeling full, you want to target a snack that has ten grams of protein and five grams of fiber per serving, says Chris Mohr, Ph.D., R.D., a Men’s Health nutrition advisor. Rare is the snack that delivers both—so we’ve paired a few of the winners below to help nudge you toward those goals.
The following 20 snacks are not only good for COVID cravings but will still be good long after this damn thing is over.
(Spoiler alert: Better luck next year, Totino’s.)
Chicken Skin Chips, Original
These crunchy pieces of chicken skin are just salty enough. And—who would have thought?—they’re good even if you’re not ketone conscious.
Per 28g bag: 13g protein, 180 calories, 0g carbs, 14g fat
Crispy Salmon Skin Chips, Chili Lime
Salmon skin is also a fine source of protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. These puffy-crispy chips taste tart and hot and are sturdy enough to dip.
Per 15g bag: 10g protein, 80 calories, 0g carbs, 4g fat
Finally, a yogurt without added sugars— including fake ones. Creamy. Delicious. No nonsense. Add some fruit if you feel like you need it.
Per 150g tub: 13g protein, 110 calories, 9g carbs (2g fiber), 3g fat
Baked Chickpea Puffs, Vegan Ranch
They’re chickpea cheese balls, which means they’re slightly higher in protein and fiber than your typical corn-based ball. Though, honestly, the “cool ranch” flavor is the best part.
Per 28g serving: 6g protein, 140 calories, 13g carbs (2g fiber), 7g fat
It’s beef jerky but slow roasted longer until chip-like. Because it’s made of all beef, one serving has tons of protein.
Per 28g serving: 20g protein, 100 calories, 0g carbs, 2g fat
Red Bell Pepper Veggie Bites
One serving carries a solid dose of fiber, because the company grinds up the seeds and stems of the bell pepper into the bar. Mango and agave syrup add sweetness.
Per 43g bag: 4g protein, 180 calories, 23g carbs (5g fiber), 0g fat
Eating avocado: awesome. Preparing avocado: wooooork. This company peels, pits, dices, and seals. Open up. Dig in.
Per 1/4 cup (50g): 1g protein, 110 calories, 4g carbs (3g fiber), 10g fat
Vine Dried Grapes, Classic
Okay, yes, they’re grapes. But not the shriveled, sugary kind. These are plump, juicy, and naturally sweet. They taste great straight up, too.
Per 28g bag: 1g protein, 80 calories, 22g carbs (1g fiber), 0g fat
Classic Goat Cheese Dip, Classic
Chemically flavored, shelf-stable “cheese product” snack dip this is not. It’s real goat cheese, with a little salt. Dunk away.
Per 2 Tbsp (30g): 3g protein, 45 calories, 1g carbs (0g fiber), 4g fat
Baked Crunchy Pineapple Chips
Real pineapple dehydrated into snack form. There are no added sugars, and they serve as a great counterweight to salty snacks. They’re also nice in homemade trail mix.
Per 45g package: 2g protein, 180 calories, 41g carbs (4g fiber), 0g fat
Nacho Cheese Pigless Pork Rind
There’s nothing wrong with pork rinds. There’s also nothing wrong with these pea-protein-based copycat snacks, and if we hadn’t told you about that, you would not have known the difference.
Per 28g serving: 7g protein, 130 calories, 13g carbs (1g fiber), 6g fat
Heirloom Mini Popcorn Sea Salt
Popcorn, a surprising source of fiber, unsurprisingly always sticks to your teeth. Not Pipcorn, which uses small kernels and tastes nuttier than regular popcorn. Pair with Netflix.
Per 2 1/2 cups (28g): 3g protein, 120 calories, 18g carbs (3g fiber), 5g fat
Frozen Greek Yogurt Indulgent Vanilla Dark Chocolate Crunch
It’s actually the crisped quinoa in the crunchy chocolate coating that is the unsung hero of this treat.
Per 55g bar: 4g protein, 140 calories, 15g carbs (0g fiber), 7g fat
Nut Butter Bar, Peanut Butter
Here’s your new pre-workout snack. These PB bars are a strong source of easily digestible carbs with a skosh of protein.
Per 50g bar: 7g protein, 230 calories, 27g carbs (3g fiber), 11g fat
Sparkling Water, Lemon
This can of bubbly water spikes its flavor with lemon juice and a little rosemary extract. It fills you up, so yes, consider it a snack.
Per 16 fl oz can: 1 calorie
Alaskan Smoked Sea Salt
These squares of 60 percent dark chocolate also have a salty side, which makes them taste like a bag of chocolate-covered pretzels—without your having to eat a whole bag of chocolate-covered pretzels.
Per 28g bar: 2g protein, 140 calories, 15g carbs (3g fiber), 10g fat
Organic Daily Probiotics, Blueberry Pomegranate
These drinkable yogurts offer a quick shot of gut-healthy bacteria and go well with fruit—an apple, a banana, a peach, or more blueberries.
Per 92 ml bottle: 3g protein, 60 calories, 11g carbs (0g fiber), 1g fat
Organic Medjool Dates, Pitted
If you’ve yet to enjoy one of these chewy-sweet fruits, it’s time. They’re deep and complex—almost like a good brandy—and for that reason you only ever need one or two to feel satisfied.
Per 2 dates (40g): 1g protein, 110 calories, 30g carbs (3g fiber), 0g fat
Tahini Lemon Cranberry
If you’re not a fan of too-sweet snack bars, here’s a changeup. Lupii builds its bars with mild, creamy lupini beans. And then instead of clobbering the taste of the beans with added sugars, it turns up the tartness.
Per 50g bar: 9g protein, 190 calories, 21g carbs (8g fiber), 7g fat
Power Curls Spicy Salsa
They’re made with egg whites, which is kind of wacky, but they’re a decent protein source as a result. The hot and garlicky flavor is what hits, though.
Per 14 curls (28g): 6g protein, 130 calories, 14g carbs (0g fiber), 5g fat
They’re high in heart-healthy fats, but they’re also an unheralded source of protein. (Okay, and they go great with beer.)
Per 1/2 cup (28g): 6g protein, 150 calories, 8g carbs (3g fiber), 13g fat
Hard-Cooked Peeled Eggs, Organic
Good eggs, cooked and peeled. You could chop them to make egg salad. Or just eat them straight out of the bag.
Per egg (44g): 6g protein, 50 calories, 0g carbs, 4g fat
Wild Sardines in Water with Sea Salt
Ounce for ounce, you will not find a higher-protein, higher-omega-3 snack anywhere—land or sea. All you need is a few crackers and a spritz of lemon.
Per 85g tin: 18g protein, 140 calories, 0g carbs, 8g fat
It’s Edam cheese, in all its rich and creamy glory, individually portioned. Simple. Excellent.
Per wheel (21g): 5g protein, 70 calories, 0g carbs, 6g fat
Italian Dill Spears
They’re crisp. They’re tangy. They’re fresh. They’re everything those shelf-stable limp and yellowed pickles are not.
Per spear (28g): 5 calories, 1g carbs
This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io