Snacks for the Healthy Couch Potato

Jessica Harlan by Jessica Harlan | October 4th, 2006 | No Comments
topic: Health & Wellness, Healthy Eating, Healthy Home

It was halfway through the second episode of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. My hand, bearing a potato chip laden with French onion dip, stopped halfway to my mouth. Unless the show got canceled, which I was hoping was unlikely, I had at least 11 weeks left of sitting here on Monday nights.

That’s a lot of time on the couch. And a lot of excuses to eat all that bad-for-you food that you can’t help but associate with watching TV: potato chips, dips, cheesy pizza, big bowls of ice cream. If you’re a sports fan, the culinary terrain is even more treacherous: Buffalo wings, spinach dip, nachos and burgers are typically on the menu for that Sunday-afternoon game.

But take heart. Perhaps responding to the obesity epidemic in Americans, many snack companies are trading in trans fats and artificial ingredients for healthier options.

While crisped soy chips used to be the domain of the health-food aisle, you’ll find Quaker’s Soy Crisps in the snack foods aisle. Barbecue or White Cheddar flavors stand up to their fattier counterparts, and the 5.5 grams of soy protein per serving means they have more redeeming qualities than a handful of B-B-Q potato chips or cheese doodles.

And Eat Smart Snacks, a division of pretzel company Snyder’s of Hanover, also has Soy Crisps. A serving has nine grams of fat, but it makes up for it with 5 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein. The flavors, however (Tomato, Romano & Olive Oil and Parmesan, Garlic & Olive Oil), might be a little fancy for your average football hooligan. Eat Smart also makes Baked Potato Crisps that only have 1.5 grams of fat per serving.

If you have a good natural food store or gourmet store nearby, you’ll have an even better selection of healthy munchies. My latest favorite from my local co-op are the Baked Rice Krisps made by Mr. Krispers. They have a light, crisp consistency, almost like a Pringle, and come in flavors that any traditionalist would love, such as Barbecue, Nacho and Sour Cream & Onion. Best of all, there’s only 2.5 grams of fat (plus a gram of protein) for a serving.

Lundberg, a company famous for its wild and brown rice offerings, is also in the snack-food game with chips made from — what else? — rice. The flat, triangular chips resemble tortilla chips, and even taste a little like them, thanks to the addition of a little organic masa corn flour. Asian food devotees will like the Sesame & Seaweed flavor, but there are also more mainstream flavors like Santa Fe Barbecue, Fiesta Lime and Sea Salt. The latter two flavors in particular would make perfect dipping chips, thanks to the sturdiness and generous size of each chip. They’re even wheat- and gluten-free, as are many rice chips and crisps.

For more guilt-free dipping, there’s always the baked tortilla chips from Guiltless Gourmet. These chips have two grams of fat and two grams of fiber per serving, and flavors including Chipotle, Blue Corn, Chile Verde and Spicy Black Bean.


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