A strange thing about craving something salty is the fact you might be dehydrated and therefore low on electrolytes – so before you dive into a crisp and salty snack with gusto, how about you first have a couple of glasses of water and just wait for 10-15 minutes to see if your salty hunger pangs just vamoose. If they don’t, well, hold up on opening that bag just yet because other than satisfying your taste buds and cravings – packaged snacks do little to boost your health. Loaded with saturated cholesterol, triglycerides, and all sorts of things you don’t want to eat on a get-healthy mission, giving into these cravings mean you get off the track to fitness.
A lot of time we also crave things, be it salt or sugar, because we are hungry – diets, our fitness routine, and levels of tiredness as well as not enough rest all go hand in hand, making our bodies crave food (i.e., energy). And sometimes when you force yourself not to eat, the hunger pangs turn into food cravings.
So what do you eat, when you simply have to have that salty crunch?
- Popcorn: Wipe that goofy smile off your face and keep those microwave “butter” popcorn packets away. With popcorn, it’s better to go for the organic and air-popped varieties you make at home. All you need is a deep pan with a lid, shucked and dried corn kernels and your favorite seasonings. To make it: add 1/3 cup of corn kernels in a largish pot with the flame to medium. Cover the pot with its lid and then give it a good shake to make sure the corn doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Keep a hold of the pot (protect yourself with oven mitts) and give it a shake every 10 seconds or so. Once the ‘popping’ slows down, turn off the heat but keep the lid on till all the popping has stopped. Open the lid and add in seasonings like black salt, cayenne, oregano or anything that is dry and catches your fancy. Give it a good shake and transfer to a big bowl. Enjoy.
- Popped Fox Nuts: Called “makhana” in India, these babies have an almost buttery flavor, though they do need 1 teaspoon of olive or coconut oil to crisp up and stop sticking to the pan. Incredibly healthy and loaded with nutrients, they are as easy to make as popcorn and have a unique flavor as well. Find the step-by-step recipe here.
- Seaweed Chips: Most seaweed snacks are low in calories and offer a unique salty texture that is likely to satisfy the saltiest and crunchiest of cravings!
- Go Brine: If it’s just the salt you are after, then go for things floating in brine – pickles, olives, and capers will all give you a nice salty texture and if you have to have the crunch – pile some atop a Graham cracker, or better yet – a really crunchy whole-wheat toast.
- Veggie Chips: Most veggie chips are a lot lower in calories than the regular, sinful potato chips. That said, to make sure that you are getting the best there is, make your own veggie chips.
- Edamame: Before you go eda-whaty, edamame is just a fancy name for immature soybeans. They are boiled whole with salt and then popped out for a healthy treat that’s high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, especially vitamin K and folate.
- Miso Soup: Not crunchy at all, yes – but salty for sure, miso soup is made by fermenting soybeans with salt, grains, and fungi called koji. The soup is low in calories, though not meant for every palate, but it is a real source of phytonutrients.
- Trail Mix: And when all else fails, reach for those crunchy nuts, seeds and dried fruits that, whilst are high in calories, have many a health benefit, including sugar control and a lowering of cholesterol. Just make sure not to eat anything with added sodium or sugar – go as plain as you can to avoid any extra calories.
- Raw Veggies: What’s crunchier than chips? Lettuce, and many raw veggies – think cold crispy carrots, cucumbers and celery sticks. To avoid the salad becoming a mayonnaise-rich affair, use a simple dressing, more as a dip on the side. Think hummus, Greek yogurt and even a simple olive oil, lemon juice, and salt mix.
- Cottage Cheese: It’s rather simple to make cottage cheese at home -- in fact, many Asian kitchens have their own little tips and tricks to make it. The simplest way is to boil a liter of milk, lower the heat, squeeze the juice of a lemon and watch the milk curdle on slow heat. Scoop out the curdled stuff (this is the cottage cheese) and leave the liquid behind. The liquid left is whey and is one perfectly balanced protein mix with all the essential amino acids and low lactose content – so you can cool this and drink it like you would buttermilk. Let the cottage cheese cool and then use it in salads, or eat it as is for a protein-filled snack that will keep you fuller, longer.
If you too have any salty, healthy snack alternatives up your sleeve, do share them with us in the comment sections below. Happy healthy snacking.