The Best (Healthy! Easy!) Packaged Snacks for Moms-to-Be
1. Nut Bars
These quick and healthy snacks are chock-full of important minerals, fiber, and the good-for-you kind of fat. Look for brands like KIND Bars and Larabars, which usually list five ingredients or fewer, and come in all sorts of yummy flavors. If early pregnancy queasies are a problem, give one of the ginger-flavored varieties a try, like Cashew & Ginger Spice from KIND or Gingerbread from Larabar.
2. Lentil Soup
Lentils are practically a perfect prenatal food: They're rich in iron, protein, folic acid, and lots of B vitamins. Plus, they're packed with fiber, so they'll keep you feeling full longer. Lentil soup is an easy way to get a serving, but not all canned soups are created equal; make sure to choose one that's low in sodium and in a BPA-free can, like Amy's Lentil Vegetable.
3. Single-Serve Cottage Cheese
When topped with a handful of berries or cut-up fruit, nutritious and convenient single-serve cottage cheese bowls can provide you with 15 percent of your daily calcium requirement, plus protein, fiber, and several other important vitamins and minerals. They're also a great way to satisfy a craving for something cool and creamy. Look for plain, low sodium varieties when browsing the dairy case.
4. Single-Serve Hummus
Hummus is a serious pregnancy power food. It's rich in protein and calcium, thanks to chickpeas and tahini, fiber (thanks again, chickpeas!), heart-healthy monounsaturated fats (from olive oil), and antioxidants (from garlic and lemon juice). It's also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, iron, folic acid, copper, manganese, and vitamin B-6. For easy snacking at work or on the go, try Sabra's Hummus Singles and Hummus and Pretzel Snack Packs or Tribe's recently launched Hummus and Pita Chip To Go Packs.
5. Grab and Go Cheese
Though it's a great source of protein and calcium, it's easy to overdo it with cheese during pregnancy (or anytime, really). Pre-portioned packages, like these mini Babybels, can help keep fat and calories on track. Pair one with whole grain crackers and/or portable fruits like apples, grapes, or pears.
6. Single-Serve Nuts or Trail Mix
This convenient snack is full of healthy fats, protein, fiber, and a variety of vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, which helps with tissue growth in both mom and baby, regulating blood sugar, and prevention of leg cramps. Keep a stash of pre-packed nuts or trail mix in your purse for a convenient prenatal power snack on the go. Blue Diamond and Trader Joe's sell convenient handful-sized nut snack packs, and for a euphoric balance of sweet, tart, crunchy and chewy try Peeled Snacks packaged trail mixes including Apple Aplenty, Coco Nosh, and Mango Staycation.
Popcorn gets a bad rap because it's often loaded with fat and sodium and straight-up junk -- especially movie theater-style and most microwave varieties. But here's some good news: popcorn is a whole grain! It's good for you! And what's even better is that you can find some truly yummy bagged popcorn in your grocery store's snack aisle. Try Angie's Boom Chicka Pop, SkinnyPop, and Good Health Organic Popcorn with a hint of sea salt. They're made with all-natural ingredients and are much lower in calories, sodium, and fat than many other packaged popcorn brands.
Made with nutrient-dense avocadoes, guacamole is bursting with fiber, potassium, and vitamins K, C, and B6. Plus, with more folate per ounce than any other fruit, avocados can help lower the risk of birth defects. Wholly Guacamole Minis are a convenient way to include this super food in your prenatal diet. Scoop it up with baby carrots or cherry tomatoes to get even more bang for your nutrition buck. (Just don't overdo it on the chips!)
9. Chobani Oats
Fruit + yogurt + whole grain x convenience = a happy mom-to-be. This wonder snack checks more nutritional boxes than we can count. Convenient, protein-packed, hearty, and delicious, this snack will easily fuel you through to your next meal.
What's a little bit sweet, a little bit salty, and a little bit fiery? Nope, not your prenatal mood swings. We're talking about Love Beets marinated baby beets in the brand's Sweetfire flavor. Rich in vitamin C, potassium, iron, magnesium, and folic acid (all necessary for a healthy pregnancy) these sweet and spicy bites make a well-balanced snack when paired with cheddar cheese and crackers.
11. Single-Serve Granola
Full of fiber-rich oats, nuts, and seeds, grab-and-go granola pouches really hit the salty-sweet spot. Be sure to look for brand's like Viki's with only a small amount of added sugar and up to 5 grams of protein. For a bigger boost—say at breakfast—stir the granola into plain yogurt and top with berries.