Everyone has times when they crave a quick snack instead of a full course meal. A study by consumer firm Mintel found that 94% of Americans snack once per day, while 50% snack 2-3 times a day. Healthy snacking can curb appetite and boost energy, but most standard snacks in the United States are not the ideal definition of healthy.
Ethnic cuisine, on the other hand, tends to use less processed foods and more robust flavors. The snacks are no exception! Here are some healthy, ethnic-inspired snacks to try at a party, at lunch, or any time of the day.
Spiced nuts are a popular snack in the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America. Popular nuts include almonds, walnuts, pistachios, peanuts, macadamias, and cashews. While high in healthy fats, nuts are low in carbs and are an excellent source of nutrients, antioxidants, protein, and fiber. Nuts also support healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
The snack doesn’t require many ingredients or a whole lot of money. Any variety of ethnic spice blends will work. For Middle Eastern spiced nuts, try adding cumin, coriander, and cardamom to oven-roasted pistachios and almonds.
Chickpeas are a staple in many ethnic countries across the world, such as India. They are protein-rich and pack plenty of fiber and iron for a healthy snack any time of the day.
When chickpeas are lightly covered in oil and then roasted at high temperatures, the texture becomes crunchy and perfect for snacking. After roasting, toss the chickpeas in popular Indian spices, such as cumin, coriander, and red chili pepper. Many grocery stores sell roasted chickpeas for those who don’t want to prepare them at home. Roasted chickpeas also store well in the pantry for some time, so it is perfectly ok to prepare them ahead of time for a quick on-the-go snack.
Hummus is one of the most well-known and versatile dishes in the Middle East. Cooked chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, and tahini (sesame seed paste) blend to make a creamy, delicious dish. While most major grocery stores carry hummus in the refrigerated section, it is also simple to make hummus at home. Use it as a dip, sandwich spread, and even salad dressing.
The great thing about hummus is that there are a variety of flavor options. In addition to the base ingredients, other recipes may add in extras such as roasted peppers, olives, cumin, coriander, and spicy peppers for a more robust, complex taste.
Why not pair hummus with something crunchy? Say goodbye to ordinary chips and dip. While most chips in the grocery store are full of sodium, unhealthy fats, and preservatives, pita chips are a healthy, low-fat alternative to ordinary potato chips.
Pita bread is a Mediterranean diet staple. It is easy to find both pita bread and pita chips at standard and ethnic grocery stores. It is also easy, however, to make pita chips at home. Just break the pita bread up into chip-size pieces and then bake them in the oven until crispy! Leftover pita chips store well for easy access later on.
For a classic Mediterranean flavor, drizzle the prepared pita chips with olive oil. Then, add Greek spices like dill, oregano, thyme, fennel, rosemary, and parsley!
Roasted Watermelon Seeds
Don’t throw away those watermelon seeds!
Many people in the United States enjoy watermelon but discard the seeds. In some Asian countries like China, however, it is customary to roast watermelon seeds. Roasting the seeds gives them a unique, caramel-like flavor. The seeds can be roasted plain or with soy sauce and sesame oil. Watermelon seeds pack a lot of nutrients, and they can also help lower cholesterol levels. It’s worth a try to make this healthy, tasty snack.
There are times when a person craves a sweet snack, but who says that sweet can’t also be healthy?
Tamarind is a tree that was native to Africa but later adopted to sub-tropical climates in Asia and Latin America. The brown pulp has a texture similar to a fruit roll-up, making it a popular sweet treat in many countries. In Mexico, for example, tamarind’s sweet, tangy flavor is often paired with spicy chilies for a mouthwatering treat. While naturally sweet, tamarinds are very healthy and nutritious. They are high in fiber and rich in nutrients, such as vitamin A, folic acid, and vitamin C.
These snacks might not seem like typical American snacks, but they have interesting flavors, and they are healthier than soda and chips. Feel free to add additional flavors for an even more unique taste. If you’re looking for even more interesting flavors, consider trying some Jamaican snacks.