School is right around the corner (if it hasn’t already started for you already), and if you’re looking for healthier additions to the lunch box, we have seven ideas that will complete that lunch or snack time.
Many of these products are also great to stash in an office drawer or break-room fridge or to keep in your home pantry for after-school fueling. And all of them are far better for you than a 100-calorie pack of cheese crackers or cookies.
True, some of these snacks are more than 100 calories but you’re getting real food, like nuts, fruit, edamame, whey protein and yogurt, so there’s more nutritional bang for your buck than a handful of processed cookies.
CVS Abound Superfruit Snack Bars
CVS Abound Superfruit Snack Bars: The drugstore chain recently introduced a line of healthier snacks under its Abound label. You can find everything from Cranberry Oat Bran Cookies, to raw almonds, to light popcorn, peanut butter and probiotic-infused trail mix. But our favorite for taste and portability are the Blueberry & Pomegranate Superfruit Snack Bars. The bars, which come individually wrapped in a box of five, are 120 calories and taste like a more substantial piece of fruit leather. They’re made with fruit puree and juices, pectin and apple fiber.
Muscle Milk Organic
Muscle Milk Organic: Muscle Milk has introduced a line of organic drinks that are the perfect size for an afternoon protein bump. The 8.25-ounce drinks, which are available in 4-packs exclusively at Target stores and Target.com, provide 15 grams of organic dairy protein for only 120 calories. The shakes, which come in vanilla or chocolate, are sweetened with a blend of organic cane sugar and organic stevia.
Quest Protein Chips
Quest Protein Chips: Quest, which makes protein bars in a rainbow of flavors, has just introduced a line of single-serve protein chips, but unlike other protein chips, these are whey protein based instead of soy. Each 32 gram bag of chips has 120 calories and 21 grams of protein. The chips are made from milk protein and whey protein, dried potatoes and cornstarch and come in three flavors -- Sea Salt, Barbecue, and Sour Cream & Cheddar. We tried all three varieties and our favorite was the Sour Cream & Cheddar, which was a good flavor match for the protein in the chip. The texture is like a very thin baked potato chip and the crunch is satisfying but we suggest not chewing on them for too long because there’s a bit of a dry finish to them. Still, they’re pretty tasty and give you a big boost of protein in an unusual form.
Seapoint Farms Black Edamame
Seapoint Farms Black Edamame: A few months back, Dr. Oz was touting the wonders of black soybeans as being nutritionally superior to the green variety. Why? The black color is a giveaway, in that it is higher in antioxidants than the green variety. Seapoint Farms has a couple varieties of black edamame in snack form -- Dry Roasted Premium Black Edamame With Sea Salt, and Crunchy Coated Premium Black Edamame. We checked out both varieties and liked them both but gave the edge to the coated ones, which are a little like non-spicy wasabi peas. A quarter cup of the coated edamame is 140 calories and 9 grams of protein, and the dry-roasted are 140 calories and an impressive 14 grams of protein.
Stonyfield YoKids Squeezers
Stonyfield Organic YoKids Squeezers: Yes, we know that Stonyfield’s YoKids Squeezers come in a bunch of flavors, but we’re a little in love with the lemonade ones, especially after they’ve been tossed in the freezer. It’s also a great way to keep them safe in your kid’s lunch box. Freeze them overnight and by lunch time, they’ll be perfect. But take our advice -- when you get the box of Squeezers home, toss the entire box in the freezer, and you’ll have the perfect 60-calorie frozen yogurt snack. The lemonade flavor ones are paired with blueberry in each 8-pack.
Blue Diamond Honey Roasted Chipotle Almonds
Blue Diamond Honey Roasted Chipotle Almonds: Blue Diamond has over the years introduced a plethora of flavored almonds, and for this latest flavor has partnered with beekeepers and research institutions to find new ways to support honey bee health. The Honey Roasted line comes in regular, vanilla, cinnamon and chipotle, and we’re big fans of the spicy-salty-sweet combo of the chipotle ones. To make them even more portable, measure out 1-ounce portions into snack-size zipper-seal plastic bags for 160 calories.
Seasnax Chomperz: We discovered these on a post-gym hungry visit to a natural foods store, and we were thrilled to see that you could eat the entire 1-ounce bag for only 80 calories. Chomperz are seaweed curls wrapped in rice, and they come in original, onion, barbecue, and jalapeno. Don’t go turning up your nose at the notion of seaweed -- these little triangles are tasty. We tried the jalapeno and liked the little kick of heat along with the crunch.