Bet I can guess what you snacked on today…
Fruit? Nuts? Maybe some seeds?
I’m pretty sure those have become the official snacks of the paleo diet. No big surprise I guess…they’re convenient, nutritious, and paleo-approved.
Hey, I just had a handful of mixed nuts and some cherries myself!
Can you imagine what could happen if we didn’t have something healthy to snack on?
We might be tempted to dive into something like this crazy Mac ‘n Cheetos snack thing from Burger King.
But if you’re like most paleo peeps…snacking on the same thing day and day out can get pretty boring. Once in awhile, you’ve just got to give your burned-out taste buds a break!
That’s why I came up with this alternate list of 10 simple and healthy paleo finger foods that don’t include the usual suspects.
Well technically a few of these snacks do include fruits, nuts or seeds as part of their ingredients – you just can’t escape them! But for the most part I tried to give you some simple snack suggestions you may not have thought of before.
Also be aware some of these paleo-friendly snacks may contain more carbs and/or sugars than you may want. My advice is to always try and eat well-balanced paleo meals, and enjoy snacks in moderation.
1. JERKY / MEAT STICKS
Dehydrated meats like beef, poultry and even wild game are high in protein and make an excellent paleo snack. You can make your own jerky using a simple countertop dehydrator or even your own kitchen oven. Jerky’s cousin, meat sticks, are another great paleo finger food. Just be sure you choose a reputable brand (no Slim Jim’s please!) that is free of additives, preservatives, dyes, fillers and refined sugars. A new beef jerky producer we recently tried and really liked was Flavor God. Steve’s Paleogoods and Nick’s Sticks are a couple more excellent brands we really enjoy.
2. CHIPS & DIPS
Prepackaged chips come in all sizes, shapes, and ingredients these days, including paleo-friendly and gluten-free versions of kale, sweet potato, apple and nori (seaweed) – just to name a few. You can make your own version of many of these chips pretty easily – a good example is my simple plantain chips recipe. But if you prefer to buy your chips, check the ingredients on the packaging to make sure those chips are made with only healthy ingredients and not fried in something like vegetable oil.
For paleo-approved dips you’ve got some interesting choices here too – stuff like guacamole, non-dairy nachos, any of the nut butters from almond to macadamia, and salsas – all these are usually good, clean choices to add some variety to snack time. And I should just mention if you don’t have chips, veggie sticks make a great replacement.
3. HARD-BOILED/DEVILED EGGS
Hard-boiled eggs are a great choice for a quick and easy paleo snack that really delivers on nutrition with over 6 grams of protein per ovum. Just get out a saucepan and boil a few eggs at the beginning of each week, then store them unshelled in your fridge. Then when hunger pangs strike, just crack, peel, and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and you’ve got instant relief. With just a little extra effort, you can whip up some really tasty deviled eggs too – their shelf life isn’t as long, but boy are these good!
4. PORK RINDS
Believe it or not this much maligned snack is perfectly acceptable under paleo rules. Also known as cracklings, pork rinds can be roasted, fried or even puffed. Did you know a one-ounce serving of pork rinds actually contain zero carbohydrates? Plus you get around 17 grams of protein, and about nine grams of fat – mostly healthy oleic acid, the good kind of fat found in healthy olive oil. And with all the great flavors on the market today, you might want to give pork rinds a spot on your go-to snacking list. As always, choose a reputable brand and look over the nutrition label. Here are a couple of pork rind brands we’ve tried and like– Pork Clouds and Galactic (pictured).
5. ENERGY/PROTEIN BARS
Here’s a finger food with a little more substance. Energy bars are pretty easy to make yourself, or there are lots of different bars out there you can buy. Once again, you’ve got to study the labels to know what you’re getting. If you’re paleo, that means no wheat, soy, oats, refined sugars, weird chemicals, etc. A lot of these manufacturers like to make you think their bars are as natural and healthy as the great outdoors when they’re really not. So always check the label – or, go have some fun in the kitchen and make your own paleo energy bars to snack on.
Here’s another great snack idea…a handful of homemade granola. This is one paleo snack I prefer to make myself because it is so darned easy and tastes so good. And I must say my granola recipes are so authentic that even my certified tree-hugging friends from my native Washington state approve. While I can’t personally vouch for a good commercial brand, I’ve heard this grain-free line from Paleonola is excellent and is on my must-try snack list.
7. SHREDDED COCONUT
Go ahead, call me crazy. My husband does as he watches in horror as I do this. But I don’t care – I love shredded unsweetened coconut right out of the bag as a snack. Just a little handful does the trick for me. It’s filling, won’t spike your blood sugar levels, and the saturated fat in coconut is good for you. That said, don’t gorge yourself on the stuff – just a few tablespoons can add up to more than 100 calories.
8. SMOKED SALMON, SARDINES, ANCHOVIES, ETC.
There’s nothing fishy to me about enjoying smoked salmon, and other cold water fish as a healthy paleo snack. Fatty fish like these help add healthy omega 3 fatty acids to your diet, and well as provide plenty of hunger-stopping protein. I’m speaking from personal experience on this one. While other kids were reaching for things like Moon Pies and Twinkies, my after-school snack of choice was always smoked salmon. Of course growing up on the coast of Washington state may have had something to do with it. These fish can be a little high in sodium, so keep that in mind. But as an occasional snack, I do love my lox.
This is one of those snack alternatives that often gets overlooked – the leftovers in your refrigerator. There’s probably a snack-in-waiting in there right now. Leftover chicken wings from a day or two before are my favorite – eat them cold or heat them up. Got leftover links? Slice those sausages up as a snack. Stick a toothpick in each if you want to feel like you’re munching on fancy hors d’oeuvres. Root around…your fridge could be a goldmine of paleo snacking goodies!
10. DARK CHOCOLATE
Yes, you can snack (a little) on chocolate if you’re paleo. But hold on– it has to be dark chocolate — not the Hershey Bar milk chocolate with all the added gunk including sugars. So your dark chocolate bars should contain 70% or more of cocoa (cocoa solids and butter combined). Cocoa is rich in flavonoids—the same potent heart-healthy antioxidants that are in green tea and red wine. Dark chocolate also includes healthy minerals, especially magnesium and copper. Yes there is some sugar in dark chocolate – but you might be surprised to learn a 2-ounce serving of at least 80% dark chocolate contains less than half the sugar of a medium-size apple!
So there you have it. My starter list of 10 really tasty alternatives to the traditional paleo snacks of fruits, nuts and seeds. Have some other snack ideas? Let me know and I’ll add them to this list.
Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for a snack!