We’ve all had days so hectic, we don’t have enough time to take a full-on lunch break—and by the time we notice our stomach grumbling, we’re about two minutes out from moving to all-out hanger mode. In those moments, it’s easy to just look for whatever is available. But instead of staring blankly into the nearest vending machine, why not eat something that fuels you and tastes good, too?
It’s easy to do, especially with a little help from nutrition experts. We talked with Laura Iu, a registered dietitian nutritionist based in New York City, and Zoey Gong, a registered dietitian, food therapist, and Traditional Chinese Medicine chef to find out what they keep on hand for a much-needed boost of energy.
Whether you’re a busy professional, student, or parent, these healthy snacks are convenient, delicious, and packed with nutrients to help you power through the day.
Zoey Gong: I know bone broth doesn’t sound like a snack, but you can drink a little cup on the go and it’s quite easy. It has a lot of very easily digestible proteins, and all different kinds of minerals.
Laura Iu: Dried mango is a delicious and nutritious snack that is perfect for on the go. Unlike fresh mango, which can be messy and difficult to eat without a knife, dried mango is easy to pack and eat anywhere. Beyond its convenience, it’s also rich in fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin A.
Laura Iu: Roasted seaweed is lightweight and compact, making it easy to carry in your bag. Seaweed contains antioxidants, which have anti-inflammatory properties.
Zoey Gong: The packets are a great, easy way to have seaweed, but if someone has time and wants a more substantial snack, I usually recommend people add something like purple or brown rice with canned tuna, like a seaweed wrap. It’s something you can put together in five minutes and it’s very balanced with whole grains, protein from the tuna, and also vitamins A, C, and E from the seaweed. And it’s a good source of iodine for us as well.
Soft baked bars
Laura Iu: Soft baked bars are among the most underrated snacks to pack. In addition to containing carbohydrates, fiber and protein, the chewy texture makes them a much more satiating snack than more traditional options like popcorn or fruit. The ones I swear by are Belvita soft baked banana bread. It can be helpful to pack a variety of foods and let your hunger level guide you on what snack(s) is going to be best to meet your body’s needs.
Zoey Gong: Jujube dates are similar to Medjool dates, but they have a little bit less sugar. We usually eat this with walnuts so it’s a really good source of fat. In Chinese medicine, we also say they harmonize the body, and replenish blood because they contain iron.
Laura Iu: For those that want a snack but for some reason cannot get their hands dirty, I recommend a drinkable yogurt. When I’m in the car or on public transportation, drinkable yogurts are a low-key way to meet my needs. They often contain a balance of carbohydrates and proteins that promote satiety and carry you into the next meal. Depending on the brand, it may contain probiotics, which can contribute to overall gut health and well-being.
Zoey Gong: Tofu curds are a special kind of tofu that’s made into a snack size. It’s usually flavored with all these spices that are beneficial for our body, and tofu is a complete protein even though it’s a vegan source. You can buy them in vacuum packs and they can be kept at room temperature as long as they’re airtight.
Bulk buying is always more cost-effective, so Iu recommends portioning out the snacks into individual containers and keeping a few of them in your bag or car if they’re shelf stable. Keeping a mix of both savory and sweet will also make it more likely that you reach for something you packed, as it offers some variety.