If you're lucky enough to live near — or travel to — the ocean, you know that beach days make for a summer well-lived. And if you're trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle, you also know that when it comes to beach food, there are slim pickings for slimming snacks. Most seaside stands are stocked with all things greasy and sugary, leaving you left to fend for yourself if you want to make healthier choices.
The good news is there are plenty of satisfying ways to dine beachside (or poolside!) that won't leave you bloated in your bikini.
"The best beach snacks are a combination of a fruit or vegetable with a protein, like apples and peanut butter," says Lisa Cain, Ph.D., founder of Snack-Girl.com and author of "Snack Girl to The Rescue!" "And remember, almost anything that you bring will be much healthier than an impulse buy from a food stand." Here, Cain offers her top go-to snacks to toss in your beach bag or cooler.
• SPICY ROASTED CHICKPEAS.
This three-ingredient recipe is not only super easy to make, but the fiber from the chickpeas will keep you satiated and ready to kick butt during round two of beach volleyball.
• HOMEMADE ENERGY BARS.
Bananas, peanut butter, and cinnamon? Um, YUM. And aside from being downright delicious, the heart-healthy fats in the peanuts and the fiber in the oats mean you've got a well-balanced snack that's easy to transport.
• CANTALOUPE BOWL WITH BLUEBERRIES AND YOGURT.
Antioxidant-loaded blueberries pair with protein-packed Greek yogurt to make a power snack you'll definitely want in your cooler. An added bonus: You've got a built-in bowl thanks to the cantaloupe half, so all you'll need is a spoon.
• KIND BARS.
You've probably tried these tasty treats — our fave flavors include Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein and Caramel Almond and Sea Salt — and they make the perfect portable sustenance. They feature real ingredients, plus plenty of fiber and healthy fat to keep you full (and away from the ice cream truck).
• CUCUMBER SLICES WITH LAUGHING COW CHEESE.
With only 58 calories per serving (which includes 10 slices!), this is a swimsuit-friendly snack that'll leave you full — thanks to the protein in the cheese without that bloated, stuffed feeling that makes you feel anything but bikini ready.
• HUMMUS WITH FRESH VEGGIES.
This is a fairly no-fuss snack, especially because you can find fresh pre-cut veggies in most grocery stores these days. Our produce picks, perfect for dipping: baby carrots, snap peas and celery wedges.
• CARROT, CREAM CHEESE AND RAISIN PINWHEELS.
The combination of flavors and textures in this cooler-friendly recipe make for a satisfying treat, and the fiber-rich whole grains are sure to crush hunger.
• FRUIT SKEWERS.
Nothing says summer like fresh fruit, and if you put your favorites on a stick, you've got a refreshing sweet snack that's convenient to eat on your beach towel. Strawberries and pineapple are perfect for a kabob, and you can also toss cheese chunks on your stick for staying power.
• FROZEN YOGURT.
No, not the sugary, dessert-y kind — we're talking DIY froyo that's as simple as tossing your favorite morning yogurt in the freezer the night before your beach trip. It's cold and creamy, but without the high sugar and calorie counts you find in traditional frozen treats — genius! Choose Greek yogurt to add muscle-friendly protein, and added fruit for an extra dose of filling fiber.
• FROZEN GRAPES.
You haven't lived until you've had a frozen grape. All right, all right — but they ARE seriously delicious. And they're also chock full of nutrients, like vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, iron and folate.