9 Healthy Snacks You Can Prep in 5 Minutes or Less
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9 Healthy Snacks You Can Prep in 5 Minutes or Less

Swap snacks from the vending machine for these healthy, energy-filled options.

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By Madeleine Burry

It’s classic advice for good reason—to maintain health and weight, stay away from the vending machine and avoid over-snacking. For busy nurses, following this recommendation can be a struggle: Often, their schedule only offers a few moments for breaks, and during late night shifts, many places to purchase food aren't even open. Snacks from machines and late-night stores may be convenient, but they're also typically chock-full of sugar and fat.

Fortunately, there are plenty of fast, energy-boosting snacks available—either for on-the-go purchase, or to prep in advance and bring in. Check out nine healthy snacks that'll help you power through your next shift.

Snack #1: A Handful of Nuts

2 / 10 Snack #1: A Handful of Nuts

Nuts are a portable powerhouse—they’re high in nutrition, readily available, filling and inexpensive. For night shift nurses, who have an increased risk of heart disease, nuts have another advantage: eating nuts can help lower your LDL cholesterol as part of a heart-healthy diet. Pack your favorite nuts ahead of the time in small Tupperware containers or Ziploc bags. Or, look for nuts in the vending machine—typically, they’re one of the only healthy options available. Be careful to not overdo it, though; nuts are high in calories, so make sure to watch your portion size.

Snack #2: A Piece of Fruit

3 / 10 Snack #2: A Piece of Fruit

Fruit may just be nature’s perfect snack. After all, it often doesn’t require a container to transport it from home to work, and fruits are a cholesterol-free, low-calorie snack containing many important vitamins and nutrients. Fruits are also chock-full of dietary fiber, which can help lower cholesterol and reduce heart disease risk. Forgot to bring fruit from home? No problem: Whether it’s cut up fruit salad or bananas or apples for under a dollar a piece, fruit is often one of the healthy options available for sale at the cafeteria or convenience stores.

Snack #3: Cottage Cheese

4 / 10 Snack #3: Cottage Cheese

Ah, does this one bring you back to 1980s-era diet choices? Cottage cheese is a polarizing choice: You either love it, or find something about the texture is deeply unpalatable. If you dislike it, skip this suggestion, but if you’re in the former group, try some low-fat cottage cheese with cut up fruit or cinnamon on top for a sweet snack. A one-cup serving of this low-fat snack contains 25 grams of protein, and will keep you satiated and full of energy. 

Snack #4: Cut-Up Veggies and Hummus

5 / 10 Snack #4: Cut-Up Veggies and Hummus

Here’s another snack that just takes a few minutes to prep: vegetables and hummus. The combination of protein with fiber will give you energy and keep you full. And don’t think this has to be complicated: You can cut up a cucumber in minutes, or open a bag of baby carrots in seconds. If you have time, cut up veggies in bulk and place in containers or baggies to bring in throughout the week. Vary vegetables to avoid monotony.

Snack #5: A Hard-Boiled Egg

6 / 10 Snack #5: A Hard-Boiled Egg

This one requires some at-home prep—but for about 15 minutes a week, you can wind up with a snack for a few of your shifts. This protein-heavy snack is full of good fats, too—eggs have both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are beneficial for heart health. As with fruit, one of the perks of this snack is its easy transport—leave eggs in the shell when bringing them from work to home, and take just 30 seconds to peel once you’re on your break.

Snack #6: Greek Yogurt

7 / 10 Snack #6: Greek Yogurt

Stash a supply of Greek yogurt containers in the break room fridge. Or, just grab a container—this grab-and-go snack is typically available at stores and one of the options from the cafeteria’s late-night reduced offerings. Greek yogurt has three advantages over ordinary yogurt: It has twice the protein of regular yogurt, healthy probiotics and its thickness makes it slower to eat—that helps you eat less, and also stop when you’re full.

Snack #7: Dark Chocolate

8 / 10 Snack #7: Dark Chocolate

Sometimes you really want to indulge. Or, perhaps you didn’t plan ahead and just need to grab something on the go. Turn to dark chocolate when you’re looking to splurge—it has a number of health advantages, like antioxidants, such as flavanols, that ward off damage from free radicals and have a positive effect on vascular health. Don’t have more than one or two squares per day (and beware of having it late in your shift, when the caffeine present in chocolate could make falling asleep a challenge later on), an occasional moderate portion could be just the treat you need to get you through the slow middle hours of your shift.

Snack #8: Celery or Apple with Nut Butter

9 / 10 Snack #8: Celery or Apple with Nut Butter

Fruits, vegetables, and nuts all have earlier entries on this list, and for good reason: fruits and veggies have tons of valuable nutrients and vitamins, while nuts have energy-boosting proteins and healthy fats. Slice up an apple and have with a spoonful of cashew butter for a healthy, energizing snack. Or make like a little kid after school, and have peanut-butter-stuffed celery stalks. The crunch and fat combo is satisfying and delicious! Be sure to choose nut butters that don’t contain added sugars and other additives.

Snack #9: Edamame

10 / 10 Snack #9: Edamame

If you’ve got a microwave in the break room, edamame is a quick, protein-packed snack. Place about 3/4 cup of edamame in a bowl with a splash of water, and microwave for 3-5 minutes. Drain the water, sprinkle with a bit of salt, and enjoy. This snack is full of fiber and protein, to help you stay full and energized.

Want even more health hacks? Cut calories, boost your energy and live a happier, healthier lifestyle with our 28-Day Healthy Swaps Challenge!

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Nursing

Nursing is a healthcare profession that involves years of training and continued specialized education to care for patients in a variety of settings. Nurses are often the first healthcare professional that patients meet. They are ...

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