By Tami Weiser
Snacking and summer go hand in hand every summer, with everlong, languorous days and comfortable, entertaining nights. Right now, with so many of us at home, handy, healthy, price-conscious snacking is vital. It’s not so easy to cruise down isles at Costco and avoid the patently unhealthy foods, but if you go with a plan in hand, you can find plenty of delicious and healthy options (in addition to fresh fruit and veggies, which rule every season), at the usual great Costco prices.
Organic Nearly Naked Popcornopolis Popcorn and Skinnypop Popcorn
This is pretty darn terrific tasting pre-popped popcorn, with just enough salty bite and plenty airy crunch to satisfy the pickiest popcorn-lover. (They do a good job of only giving the popped kernels, too, so it’s good bang for your buck). This is a minimally processed, 100% whole grain, with a whopping 12 grams of fiber to really help your day move along. Skinnypop popcorn, which comes in easy-to-take-along, diet-friendly individual bags, and Lesser Evil Popcorn, which showcases the subtle and unique taste of pink Himalayan salt, also top this list, but aren’t available at every Costco.
Seapoint Farms Dry Roasted Edamame
With more protein, and far less fat than nuts, this protein packed powerhouse earns it’s place towards the top of this list. Only ⅓ of a cup provides 13 grams of protein, with no cholesterol. Without eating a farms’ worth of dark greens, these dry roasted edamame offers 10 % of the daily value of iron, which is often so hard to find for vegetarians and vegans. Eat them right from the bag or toss a few on salad just before eating so they stay crunchy.
Crunchmaster 5 Seed Multigrain Cracker
Delight your taste buds with this super crispy, super-duper crunchy, super-duper-duper satisfying crackers. A generous serving size of 14 crackers, about ½ a bag, clocks in at 140 calories, but it’s the low (0.5g) saturated fat, 3 grams of protein and absolutely no sugar that elevate this to the #2 spot on this list. They are terrific by themselves, bursting with seedy flavor but even better, if you want more nutrition for your snack-y moment, and you’re in a rush, pair these crackers with Kirkland’s pre-measured hummus cups (170 calories, almost 12% of your dairy fiber, no sugar, no cholesterol and it’s even got 4 grams of protein!) and pre-cut celery stalks, or schmear your favorite nut butter and add a few fresh blueberries and blackberries and suddenly, these chipper-dippers are anything but just another blah snack cracker with unhealthy options piled on top. These are a serious go-to in my house, with so many dietary lifestyles.
Sambazon Superfruit Acai Bites
These are a treat that I cannot get enough of to keep up with my family’s love of these little charmers. These frozen treats showcase a tart-sweet, dairy free sorbet surrounded by a crisp layer of ultra-dark chocolate. At 50 calories and only 1 teaspoon of added sugar per mini-bar, these are dessert-style style snack, perfect as a refreshment for an afternoon outdoor playtime in the summer heat. If you can’t handle sugar alcohols or soy isn’t in your program, be careful, since this does have erythritol (although it often considered the least difficult to digest of the sugar alcohols) and soy lecithin ( a stabilizer or emulsifier). This is hands down, my chef-daughter’s favorites.
The Snakyard Crispy Shiitakes
Mushrooms are a low-cal, satiating food, chock full of B vitamins, minerals, beta-glucans and over 15% of daily fiber. Even better, it’s also the only non-animal food source for vitamin D. Made with sustainable palm oil, it’s not even bad for the environment. These surprisingly crunchy, dark, meaty, umami-bombs have a lot going for them, but best of all, is the dark and rich tucked into each bite. If you are concerned about added sugar, though, this snack may not be your best bet. At 2.5 teaspoons of sugar( maltose) in each serving, although it may be more sugar than you are looking for, the addition adds dimension and balance that makes this definitely list-worthy. Also, if you firmly avoid glutamates and hydrolyzed yeast, this may not be the best option. They are great served as a chip, chopped into a crisp salad topping or right out of the bag.
One extra tidbit: You may notice that no frozen fruit bars are included in this list. Definitely a healthier take on classic summertime refreshment, the amount of added sugar per treat is really quite high, from any brand. However, if you do want to splurge on sugar, (14 grams sugar per bar), Outshine is a great option. Your local Costco may also carry their deliciously creamy yogurt bars- which are a serious summer winner-with a little less sugar, 12 grams, 90 little calories, 10% of the daily calcium and a whopping 5 grams of protein. If your diet can handle the sugar, Outshine yogurt bars must-try, must-buy.