Lately the hottest thing since sliced bread seems to be, well, pretty much the opposite of that. Gluten-free products have been popping up on supermarket shelves across the country, appealing to those with Celiac disease or gluten intolerance, as well as other health-conscious eaters.
“In my practice I’ve seen that cutting back on gluten can lead to the elimination of irritable bowel syndrome and heartburn, fewer headaches, better mental focus, less fatigue, resolution of sinus congestion, better skin and better mood,” says Dr. Arthur Agaston, author of “The South Beach Diet Gluten Solution Cookbook.”
However, he cautions that going gluten-free won’t necessarily lead to weight loss. The refined, low-fiber foods linked to weight gain, obesity and diabetes are just as common in gluten-free products as they are in their conventional counterparts, Agaston says.
Instead he urges people to choose naturally high-fiber, low-glycemic, gluten-free foods. The following healthy snacks are best for being low in calories but providing ample protein and fiber to ward off hunger — and unwanted pounds.
NUTTY SNACK: ALMONDS
EATING 11/2 OUNCES OF ALMONDS DAILY CAN CURB APPETITE WITHOUT BOOSTING CALORIE INTAKE OR BODY WEIGHT, ACCORDING TO A RECENT STUDY PUBLISHED IN THE EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF CLINICAL NUTRITION. TO BOOT, THEY’RE AN EXCELLENT SOURCE OF VITAMIN E AND HEALTHY, MONOUNSATURATED FATS. THROW THEM ON A SALAD, OR SPICE THEM UP BY ADDING SEASONINGS. AGASTON SAYS HE ENJOYS A HANDFUL OF ALMONDS OR WALNUTS WITH 10 WHOLE-GRAIN GLUTEN-FREE CRACKERS.
One of Agaston’s favorite snacks? Cut-up veggies with a 2-ounce container of hummus. Hummus does double duty on the filling front, supplying both fiber and protein. And if you pair it with a half-cup of carrots, you’ll also set yourself up with two days’ worth of vision-protecting vitamin A. Or opt for broccoli, which is rich in vitamin C, as well as fiber.
CHIP: RHYTHM SUPERFOOD CHIPS
Though these baked snacks rival your favorite tortilla or potato chip in taste, unlike salt- and calorie-laden crisps, Rhythm Superfood Chips offer hearty helpings of slimming fiber, filling protein and other good-for-you vitamins and minerals — with barely any sodium or saturated fat and zero gluten. For example, the sea salt flavor contains nutrient-rich sweet potatoes, carrots, and broccoli, while the barbecue and nacho options pack heart-healthy grains quinoa, amaranth and oat bran.
Bonus: you’ll find more antioxidants in the jalapeno lime flavor than you will in some berries, thanks to the not-so-secret ingredient of purple corn.
SWEET SNACK: KIND, HEALTHY GRAINS BAR
Kind snacks boast “ingredients you can see and pronounce,” so you always know what you’re putting in your body (in this case: little-to-no sodium, trans fats, or cholesterol, along with a whole bunch of good-for-you vitamins and minerals). These brand-new bars put whole grains — and all their high-fiber glory — front and center. Each bar contains five super grains, including powerhouses like quinoa, oats and buckwheat. Best of all, they come in mouth-watering flavors such as peanut butter-dark chocolate and vanilla-blueberry, and contain 150 calories or less.
CHEESY SNACK: CHEESE AND FRUIT
Couple a piece of reduced-fat cheese or a part-skim mozzarella stick with an apple, pear or some grapes, suggests Agaston. The fruit supplies belly-filling fiber, while cheese slips you some protein and calcium.
CREAMY SNACK: NUTTZO SEVEN NUT & SEED BUTTER
Few things in life compare with the pleasure of a spoonful of peanut butter. However, many brands pack so much added sugar and sodium that the nutritional power of the peanut is basically void. Enter NuttZo. In addition to enjoying the protein and healthy fats peanuts have to offer, you’ll reap the benefits of six other nuts and seeds, such as omega-3-rich chia seeds, vitamin-E packed sunflower seeds, and selenium-loaded Brazil nuts. For people with peanut allergies (or aversions), NuttZo makes a peanut-free nut butter too, and chocoholics will love their chocolate nut butter, made with organic 70 percent dark chocolate. Follow Agaston’s lead, and spread the nut butter of your choice on high-fiber gluten-free crackers for a more complete snack.
CRUNCHY SNACK: IPS EGG WHITE CHIPS
You’re probably used to egg whites in their usual, spongy form, right? IPS flips the script by crisping protein-packed egg whites with a patented puff process. The result? Super crunchy chips that bear 7 grams of protein per each 130-calorie serving – and half the fat of typical potato chips. Fun flavors such as aged cheddar, barbecue and cinnamon sugar sweeten the deal.
TWIST ON A CLASSIC: GREEK YOGURT AND VEGGIES
Greek yogurt and fruit might already be your go-to breakfast, but this typically sweet standby can also serve as a satisfying savory snack. Agaston enjoys pairing 4 ounces of nonfat Greek yogurt with slices of cucumber and bell pepper. Cukes bring some necessary H2O to the table, while peppers load you up with vitamin C and fiber, and yogurt rounds out the meal with an eye-popping 8 grams of protein. To infuse a little extra flavor into your yogurt, try adding fresh herbs or spices.