Who doesn’t love a good snack? It doesn’t matter if you’re my 4-year-old daughter literally trying to climb into the refrigerator to forage, or you’re somebody like my husband who’s topping off the gas tank at the local Mini Mart on his way home from the sale barn and is browsing the shelves for a treat.

Everybody likes a tasty snack now and then. In fact, many nutritionists would agree that incorporating one to two healthy and balanced snacks throughout the day is a great way to meet nutritional needs and goals for all ages.

Now here’s where things get sticky: Snacks come in many shapes, sizes and forms, not all of which are a healthy choice. Sugar, soy, preservatives and empty calories abound inside all of those crinkly packages. It can be tricky to grab something that’s easy to eat on the go, is going to satisfy you and isn’t going to derail your nutrition game. In this article, I hope to point you in the direction of not only some healthy snack alternatives to the usual lineup but also tackle the challenge of ensuring that there is dairy in each suggestion as well. Because, let’s face it, the world needs every excuse to eat more dairy products these days.

To satisfy a sweet tooth

Eat this: Prairie Farms Milk Snack

040620 littleDebbie EATTHIS

Not that: Little Debbie Swiss Rolls

040620 littleDebbie NOTTHAT

Why? The Milk Snacks contain actual whole milk, no preservatives (keep refrigerated) and less sugar and carbs than the Little Debbies, so I don’t feel guilty about treating myself or the kiddos to one on occasion. You can find these in the dairy section at most Walmarts in the Midwest.

Eat this: Fairlife smart snacks

040620 fairlife EATTHIS

Not that: A chocolate chip cookie

040620 chocolate chip cookie NOTTHAT

Why? Fairlife has done some amazing things with their filtration process. These drinkable treats come in chocolate, vanilla and strawberry and uniquely combine ultra-filtered milk with honey and oats. The result is a snack with 15 grams of protein and 5 grams of dietary fiber for only 170 calories! I’d like to see a chocolate chip cookie do any of that! Bonus, these little babies are shelf-stable, which means you can buy them by the case from places like Amazon without concerns about refrigeration. You can also find these in the dairy section at most Walmarts across the U.S.


Eat this: Built Bar protein and energy bar

040620 candybar EATTHIS

Not that: A candy bar

040620 chocolate bars NOTTHAT

Why? Protein bars are an amazing tool. They are packed to the hilt with protein, most are lower carb, and I love their convenience. Calorie for calorie, a candy bar just cannot compete with the nutritional stats of a protein bar when it comes to fat, sugars, carbohydrates and protein. Candy bars will spike your blood sugar and leave you crashing and hungry again an hour later. There are TONS of brands and varieties of protein bars; Built Bar happens to be my favorite one. The chocolate peanut butter flavor tastes like a smooth, creamy 3 Musketeers. I get mine off of Amazon and love the flavor-variety pack.

To crush your morning rush

Eat this: Skyr-style yogurt

040620 skyr EATTHIS

Not that: An instant oatmeal cup

040620 instant oatmeal NOTTHAT

Why? Skyr yogurt, an Icelandic-style cultured product, is the new cool kid, at least to the U.S. Ounce for ounce, it has the same protein density as egg whites (15-17 grams) and typically contains very little sugar. Most instant oatmeal cups are loaded with sugar and don’t come close to those kind of protein stats. Fun side note, it takes four times more milk to make skyr yogurt than it does regular yogurt. Think of all of the goodies that are being condensed down into that little 5.3 ounce cup! There are many brands of this style of yogurt – my current favorite being Happy Farms from Aldi.

To energize your afternoon

Eat this: Chike High Protein Coffee

040620 chike EATTHIS

Not that: An energy drink

040620 energy drinks NOTTHAT

Why? Have you noticed that protein is a recurring theme with my healthy snack suggestions? Chike combines two things that I’m deeply passionate about: coffee and protein. That’s really all it is – a protein shake with espresso powder in it. Friends who I’ve convinced to try it have fallen deeply in love and have never looked back. Energy drinks are full of dangerous stimulants and fake sugars that mess with your kidneys and leave your heart racing. Chike provides two shots of real espresso per serving that will keep you alert and moving, along with 20 grams of whey protein isolate to keep you satisfied and your muscles fed. You can buy it on Amazon or from their website, and it comes in several delicious flavors like chocolate peanut butter and mocha. You can buy it by the pouch or in convenient single serving to-go packs.

To graze on salty munchies

Eat this: Just The Cheese bars

040620 justthecheese EATTHIS

Not that: Cheetos

040620 cheetos NOTTHAT

Why? These bars are made of 100% cheese. That’s it! Genius, isn’t it? They’re a relatively new product made in the great state of Wisconsin. I first discovered these at last year’s CrossFit games and was so excited to see the fitness industry get pumped up about eating a bar made of baked cheese. Crunchy, salty, cheesy – it checks all the boxes that make Cheetos so satisfying. The upside: no gross preservatives, fillers, dyes or carbohydrates. And – maybe the best part – no orange fingers! These can also be found on Amazon or on their website. I recommend the jalapeno flavor.

Eat this: Quest Tortilla Style Protein Chips

040620 quest EATTHIS

Not that: Doritos

040620 cool ranch doritos NOTTHAT

Why? Those who I’m closest to know I have a serious Cool Ranch Doritos problem. They’re my guilty pleasure. However, being the health-food worshiper that I am, I try really hard to curb my Doritos cravings with these awesome substitutes. Quest tortilla chips come in all the same flavors as Doritos yet contain half the fat, only 5 grams of carbohydrates and a whopping 19 grams of protein! That’s because they are made from a dried blend of milk protein isolate and whey protein isolate. It’s a chip made out of dairy products. Tell your friends! You can find these at GNC, Walmart and many other retailers.  end mark

PHOTOS:Product photos taken from respective sites. All other photos from iStock.

Morgan Kliebenstein