Snacking is a term usually associated with unhealthy food. But even if you google for healthy snacks the results are usually anything but healthy. In this article, I will share with you seven healthy snack ideas for a movie night that are not only healthy but Paleo-compatible.
When I grew up, popcorn was a classic movie night snack. As you probably know, popcorn is made from corn kernels. Corn is technically a dry-fruit, generally called a grain. Most folks eat corn like a vegetable, and for the longest time, that’s what I thought it was. So I figured corn was healthy food.
Why is (pop)corn not Paleo?
From a historical perspective, the indigenous people in southern Mexico first domesticated corn (also known as Maize) about 10,000 years ago, when the Paleolithic age ended and the Mesolithic began. In other words, by the time our ancestors started eating corn, they had become farmers and were not only hunters and gatherers anymore. That’s the technical reason of why corn is not Paleo.
From a dietary point of view, corn has two issues that make it fail the Paleo test:
- The hull, even though rich in polyphenols is made up of insoluble fiber. As a result, your body cannot digest it. Your body needs soluble fiber as everything else is just dead weight. And I mean that literally.
- Much like peanuts and other legumes, corn has an anti-nutrient called phytic acid which prevents the absorption of certain minerals. The good news is that the heat used when processing corn reduces the phytic acid content of up to 52%. As a result, popcorn likely contains fewer anti-nutrients than fresh corn. But it still reduces the absorption and bioavailability of many minerals, and that’s why I recommend staying away from (pop)corn.
Healthy snacks for movie nights
If not popcorn, what other snacks can you eat? I am glad you asked! Here are my top 7 healthy and Paleo-compatible snacks that we often enjoy during movie night.
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Cello Whisps are parmesan cheese crisps that have only one ingredient: Aged parmesan cheese. As a result, this snack is naturally free of gluten and sugar and has less than 1 gram of carbohydrates.
Parmesan is a dairy product and strictly speaking it’s not Paleo. But as with most aged cheeses, it has very little, if any lactose (milk sugar). What’s left is a lot of fat and protein (casein). A small number of people are sensitive to casein, but for most of us, it is not an issue.
I eat (aged) cheese as part of my diet and consider it a good source of protein and fat. I recommend Cello Whisps because they are among the very few snack foods that are high in fat and protein while containing virtually no carbohydrates.
Artisan Tropic Plantain Chips
Until I met my wife in 2009, I had never heard of plantains. I guess they are just not very popular in Austria. Plantains look like giant bananas, and most people cook them before consumption. Green plantains are high in starch, which converts to sugar during the ripening process. That’s probably where the term “sweet plantains” comes from. Plantains are high in Vitamin A, B6 and C and contain moderate amounts of other B-Vitamins, Potassium, Iron, and Magnesium. We like them a lot as a side dish.
For snacking, we occasionally enjoy plantain chips. Just make sure the ones you buy are made with Paleo-compatible oil, such as Palm Oil. I am aware that there are environmental issues associated with the production of palm oil, so you may want to verify how it was sourced.
Also, keep in mind that plantains are a starchy fruit and thus loaded with carbohydrates. They are Paleo-friendly, much like most other fruits but the Paleo diet recommends to eat fruits in moderation. So don’t devour a whole bag! That is, by the way, advice I need to give myself from time to time :)
Jackson’s Honest Sweet Potato Chips
While regular potatoes are not Paleo-friendly, sweet potatoes are. That is mainly because their so-called glycemic index is lower than the one of the regular potatoes. The lower the GI, the slower the carbs convert into sugar in your body and the less of an insulin spike your body experiences.
Until recently, we bought the sweet potato chips from Terra because they are free of artificial flavors and preservatives. But Terra uses expeller-pressed Canola Oil, Sunflower Oil or Safflower Oil. Neither of those three oils is Paleo-friendly.
But while doing research for this article, I stumbled across Jackson’s Honest Sweet Potato Chips. Jackson’s Honest uses organic coconut oil, which is one of the healthiest oils available. As a result, I highly recommend their sweet potato chips! But similar to Plantain chips, they contain a lot of carbs. So remember the “don’t eat the whole bag” policy.
RXBAR Protein Bars
I love RXBAR protein bars, specifically the Chocolate Sea Salt flavor. It’s one of our favorite “desserts.” I learned about RXBAR protein bars through an ad on Instagram. So I reached out to them, and they sent me a sampler of their protein bars. What differentiates RXBAR from other snack bars is that they are 100% Paleo compatible while containing a lot of protein. Our favorite flavor, chocolate and sea salt contains only the following ingredients:
- 3 Egg Whites (Protein)
- 6 Almonds (Fat)
- 4 Cashews (Fat)
- 2 Dates (Carbs)
- Sea Salt
- Natural Chocolate Flavor
- No B.S.
The last ingredient is essential, and it’s what truly sets those guys apart from the competition! As a result, one bar has about 210 calories (80 from fat) and contains 12 grams of protein, 9 grams of fat and 24 grams of carbohydrates (15 grams of sugar). The source of the carbs, and specifically the sugar, are from the two dates.
The bars are so tasty that I could easily eat more than one, but we treat RXBAR protein bars like we treat fruits and enjoy them in moderation.
Kirkland Signature Macadamia Nuts
Macadamia nuts are not cheap, but they are among my favorite nuts for snacking and traveling. We usually buy the Kirkland brand at Costco, but I noticed that they now have them on Amazon too. Most Macadamia nuts are dry-roasted. That means, no oil was used during the roasting process. If sodium (sea salt) is a concern, check out this brand that doesn’t add any salt. They are more expensive but arguably the healthier choice.
Lindsay California Olives
Until a few years ago, I didn’t like the taste of olives. Now I could eat them every day. Maybe what makes them so appealing to me is knowing how healthy they are.
We usually buy them fresh at Whole Foods or canned. When you buy canned food, make sure it doesn’t contain any funky preservatives. Most canned food does, which makes it difficult to find healthy options. As a result, we usually stick to canned olives from Lindsay as they contain only olives, sea salt and nothing else.
All the snacks that I covered so far didn’t require any preparation. But I wanted to include my all-time favorite, even if it needs a little bit of prep work: Guacamole. Avocados are the only fruit that I don’t hold back with, and they are the key ingredient of Guacamole.
There are tons of excellent Guacamole recipes out there, but I make mine very simple:
- Two mashed avocados
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of ground or crushed pepper
- One tablespoon of lime juice
- A bit of chili powder
I mix it all together until I get a smooth-textured paste. Then I just eat it with a spoon or use it as a dip for sweet potato- or plantain chips.
7 Healthy snack ideas for movie night
If you google for healthy snack ideas, chances are, that you will find plenty of suggestions that are anything but healthy. The most visible sign of an unhealthy snack is added sugar, but there are much sneakier ingredients that you may miss. That’s why I decided to come up with a list of my top 7 Paleo-compatible snacks we often enjoy on movie night.
If you are on a Keto diet, your options are probably limited to Cello Whisps, macadamia nuts, olives, and guacamole as they don’t have a lot of carbs. But even if you are not on a Keto diet, you should take it easy on the carbs, even the healthy ones, and enjoy them in moderation. That’s what a snack is supposed to be anyway, so don’t snack to replace a meal!
If you have any other healthy snack ideas, you think I should have covered, leave me a comment below or shoot me an email and I will update the article.
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