Fact: Potato chips are delicious (even more so if you put them on a sandwich). Less awesome fact: potato chips are not great for you. Fortunately, there are lots of foods that allow you to replicate the delicious parts of potato chips (crunchy, salty goodness) while adding some redeeming nutritional value.
1. Kale chips
If you’re grossed out, I get it. I was not a kale chip believer when they first appeared. Someone tried to feed me “cheesy” kale chips and I was just like, um, I’ll take some nacho chips with actual cheese on them, thanks. What turned me into a kale chip believer was this salad. After baking up some kale for the salad, I realized that said baked kale could be a tasty snack in its own right. Experiment with seasonings (or salad toppings!) and go get your kale on.
If this initially sounds gross, don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it. Those dried seaweed snacks that are popping up at grocery stores have all the crunch and saltiness of potato chips, with way fewer calories and way more vitamins and minerals. Yes, the taste is going to be a little different, but I like them, and they’re a snack you can crunch your way through an entire bag of with zero guilt.
I’m not talking about the butter/chemical laden stuff you get at the movies. (Seriously, I helped with movie concessions for the student film group in college, and the stuff they put on that popcorn to turn it yellow is not anything people should be ingesting.) I’m talking about when you buy popcorn kernels at the grocery store, throw them in a brown paper bag, pop them in the microwave, and then add the seasonings of your choice. You can go classic with butter and a little salt, gourmet with some olive oil and rosemary or sweet with a handful of M&Ms (though this will take away from some of the ‘healthiness’). Regardless, the popcorn itself is full of fiber and polyphenols, two things the Internet tells me are good for you!
4. Freeze dried anything.
Freeze dried snacks seem to be the new thing, at least where I shop (Trader Joe’s and Target). From edamame to strawberries to corn, people seem to be freeze drying just about anything, so if you’re looking for a crunchy snack with all the nutritional value of the real versions of these foods, this is it.
5. Homemade veggie chips
Name almost any vegetable, and the odds are you can slice it thin and bake it into a chip. From things that make sense, like sweet potatoes or squash, to slightly weird sounding contenders like spinach or broccoli, the sky is your chip-making limit. Find inspiration here.
6. Quinoa chips
If you’re insistent that your salty snack must come in classic flavors like sour cream and onion, give quinoa chips a try. They come in classic chip flavors, but provide things like fiber and protein that make them a healthier snack choice.
This is my current favorite salty snack. Seriously, I kind of have a pistachio problem right now. Except that it’s not a problem, because in addition to being salty and crunch, pistachios are full of nutrients and healthy fat. Plus, they’re fun to crack out of those little shells.
8. Homemade baked tortilla or pita chips
Let’s say you’re having some friends over who just aren’t going to accept veggie chips as a snack food. We’ve all been there. Give making your own chips a shot. Pick out your favorite healthy brand of tortillas or pitas (bonus for something with whole grain in them!), preheat your oven to 350, cut your tortillas into wedge shapes, toss them on a cookie sheet with some salt, and bake them 10-15 minutes til they’re crispy, flipping halfway through. Serve with salsa, guacamole, or hummus, and you’ve got a yummy snack that’s not full of saturated fat and weird chemicals.
9. Roasted chickpeas
These are so good, so good for you, and so easy to make. All you need is a can of chickpeas, an oven, and your choice of seasonings. Preheat your oven to 350, rinse your chickpeas, then really dry them with paper towels (this is key!). Toss your chickpeas in a bowl with a little olive oil and your favorite seasoning, throw them in the oven for 45 minutes or until they’re nice and crispy, and then munch away. They’re also great on salads.
10. Sunflower seeds
These are probably old news to a lot of people, but I recently discovered them as a snack, and I love them. They’ve got a perfect snacking texture, and are crazy high in vitamins and minerals.
11. Lentil Snaps
I just discovered these today and I can assure you that they are just as addicting as potato chips, while being somewhat better for you. Don’t get me wrong, you’re still better off with actual lentils in terms of nutritional value, but if you’re just looking for a snack better than a potato chip, these are a tasty choice.
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