Easy, healthy options for the college student looking to step up their snack game

Admit it — for some people, it is hard to get up a few minutes early to make yourself breakfast. Or sometimes, that after-class hunger pang strikes, and there is nothing to grab. Sticking to snacks filled with nutrients and sourced by real, minimal ingredients is step one in the process to finding what your “healthy” means. And no, this does not mean you have to grab the lowest calorie option either, it means sticking to genuine sources and sustenance. 

Fresh fruit is a great place to start. I can hear the crowds groaning over this “obvious option,” but let it be known — fruit is nature’s candy. If not eaten for the taste or nutritional benefits, fruit can can be chosen because of its easy access and the countless ways to spice it up. Next time you grab a banana or an apple, throw some peanut, cashew or almond butter with it, and even a sprinkle of cinnamon. Your snack game just went up 100 percent and is packed with fiber, vitamins and other nutrients so you will feel good after eating.

Do not pass up the bars either. Granola or protein bars can get a bad rep from some of their counterparts in the cereal aisle or even protein section of grocery stores. However, choosing the right kind is key. Stay away from granola bars that don’t include ingredients you cannot pronounce. 

A personal favorite of mine are Perfect Bars — these are the protein bars of your dreams. The chocolate walnut brownie flavor tastes like fudge, the dark chocolate peanut butter is like a Reese’s Cup, and they even have a pumpkin spice flavor being featured right now that tastes like fall exploded in your mouth. You can find these at your local Starbucks, Trader Joe’s, Kroger or Whole Foods in the refrigerated section, but they are good left outside the cold for up to a week. The best part is they are made completely from wholesome, real ingredients like nut butter and honey, with a low glycemic index. 

GoMacro bars are key players too. These bars are like desserts in disguise. There are so many delicious flavors ranging from coconut-almond butter chocolate chip — which I’m convinced is actually another name for an Almond Joy — to blueberry cashew butter. The ingredients are minimal and on point too, so there won’t be any sugar crashes weighing down your classes, workouts or study sessions. Also check out RXBars because these are equally as tasty, nourishing, and the best part is the small number of pronounceable ingredients are listed on the front.

Yogurt also gets overlooked. For some people, it is the texture, but others just seem to pass it up. However, it is time to revisit yogurt, because nowadays there is a variation for everyone. Greek, icelandic, almond, coconut, soy or just plain regular yogurt, the options are endless. And yogurt, while a good snack on its own, makes an even better base for a bowl. My favorite combination is Siggi’s plain or vanilla skyr, icelandic yogurt, topped with fresh fruit and granola. Homemade or Purely Elizabeth granola are my favorite options. Add some coconut and other seeds, and you have yourself a real winner. Side note — Siggi’s also has a pumpkin spice flavor for the season.

I told you giving up chips was not a must, so here is the plug. Siete Brand Chips, you would never notice these are almond-flour based, and made from all real ingredients. No added things here, just a good old chip. Perfect for snacking, dipping and so much more. Hummus is the perfect medium for these, as it is packed with protein and fiber to keep you full and focused for your next venture. Pro tip? Try the edamame hummus from Trader Joe’s. 

Crackers should not go unnoticed either. Saltines are great and all, but I’m talking real crackers. Mary’s Gone chia and hemp crackers have the perfect nutty crunch, making them a great option. Simple Mills crackers, specifically the Farmhouse Cheddar flavor, taste like Cheez-Its. You would never guess they are made from almond flour — life-changing. 

A staple for many people has become toast, avocado toast especially (cue the Instagram post). No but really, it does not get better than toast and making some is truly simple. 

An avocado, bread and some salt makes for a quick bite. There is so much room for variation, too, if that’s your thing. I have spiced up avocado toast by adding strawberries and tahini for a sweet-savory combo, or even just adding a hardboiled egg on top. However you choose to create it, this option always hits the spot. Or, if avocados are not your thing, peanut butter and banana makes for some of the best toast every time, in my opinion.

Now, the next time you find yourself at a grocery store, just wanting to grab the classic Lay’s, popcorn or gummies, try and reach for some of these options too. You may just be surprised by how much you like them and how good you feel eating them. 

Isabel Salken is a Food Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at

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