Photo: David Malan
Want to feel more energetic, more alive and more vibrant? Stop looking for a boost in the latest energy drinks or nutrition bars -- the secret to pure energy comes from eating the simple, nutritious foods that are chock full of the vitamins and minerals your body needs. The following 25 snack options will have you raring and ready to go -- so let's get started!
An apple a day may just really help keep the doctor away, and these sweet treats are tops for banishing the blahs. They're packed with vitamins and minerals, as well as flavenoids and polyphenols (two powerful antioxidants), so enjoy them as a morning snack or in your favorite smoothie recipe.
Bananas are a convenient source of potassium, which helps boost energy levels by maintaining normal blood pressure and heart rhythms. Drop one in your purse or carry-on to provide a quick "pick me up" during an afternoon lull.
3. Red peppers:
If you've just got to have that crunch, steer clear of potato chips and packaged popcorn -- the processed ingredients in these snack foods can kill your energy levels! Instead, reach for bell peppers. They're full of vitamins A & C (antioxidants with powerful skin and beauty benefits) and lycopene, which has been tied to lower cancer risks. As an added bonus, they're great dipped in salsa!
Are creamy snacks more your speed? Forgo fatty cheeses and energy-sapping ice cream in favor of hummus -- a healthy alternative that's great when paired with other items on this list, including red peppers, cucumbers and carrots. If you're watching your carbohydrate intake, be sure to check out this Raw Chickpea-Free Hummus recipe, which gives you amino acids and calcium from the raw tahini, but without the starch of the chickpeas.
5. Organic dark chocolate:
Overly-processed, high-sugar sweets can sap our B vitamin reserves, which play a crucial role in balancing energy throughout the day. So instead, satisfy your sweet tooth with one to two ounces of dark chocolate as an occasional treat. For the biggest energy boost, look for non-diary, organic dark chocolate, which contains the highest percentage of antioxidants compared to other types of chocolate.
6. Pumpkin seeds:
They're not just for Halloween anymore -- pumpkin seeds are a lighter alternative to nuts that satisfy crunchy cravings, while delivering magnesium, iron, calcium, vitamin K and protein. They're a great choice for those long afternoons when you're hours away from lunch or for days when you're planning a big workout before dinner.
If you find yourself looking for something to nibble on throughout the day, consider carrots. They're surprisingly sweet and packed with fiber, which will help you feel full between meals and through those long afternoon meetings. As an added bonus, they're packed with beta carotene, which helps to protect your eye sight.
When it comes to energy and health benefits, celery is pretty much a miracle food. Quick and easy to digest and chock full of fiber and vitamins B and C, it also helps to balance potassium and sodium levels while reducing inflammation in the body. Nibble on celery for a quick snack or, if you're looking for something more substantial, enjoy it with hummus or toss it into your Glowing Green Smoothie (see below!).
9. Purée veggie soup:
Nothing says "comfort food" like a warm bowl of soup, and mixing up a bowl of pureed vegetable soup can be a great way to get your veggies in on a cold day! Purée vegetable soup is ideal way to improve energy levels, as the vegetables in the soup have already been blended, enabling your body to easily absorb their nutrients without wasting energy breaking them down.
10. Lemon water:
Dehydration is a major energy-sapper, so be sure to fill up on water throughout the day. While plain water will work, spicing up your water with a splash of lemon juice is a great way to incorporate an extra blast of vitamin C and enzymes into your diet. Try a cup of hot water with lemon in the mornings and sip on cool lemon water throughout the day for maximum benefit.
This childhood staple is one of the healthiest carbs you can find, and by purchasing a natural variety (oat groats are my favorite!), you'll get the biggest possible energy boost from this breakfast staple. Add it in the morning (at least 25 minutes after you've had some fruit, or if you're still hungry after a Glowing Green Smoothie) and serve with a sprinkle of cinnamon, which adds flavor and even more health benefits.
12. Glowing green smoothie:
Whenever you're feeling low energy, hightail it into the kitchen for a batch of my signature Glowing Green Smoothie. It's loaded with greens and vegetables (plus a bit of fruit to sweeten the taste), and packs a mega-punch of vitamins, enzymes, minerals, amino acids and fiber, making it a great choice for breakfast or for your mid-afternoon snack.
As a non-starchy/non-fatty fruit, watermelon makes a great snack, as it digests quickly and won't get caught up in the stomach, fermenting behind other slower-digesting foods. It's also tremendously refreshing and packed full of lycopene (which, as mentioned earlier, has potent cancer-prevention properties) - just be sure to eat it on an empty stomach for maximum energy-boosting benefits.
14. Coconut water:
Coconut water is packed full of electrolytes, which makes it one of the best ways to naturally rehydrate the body and restore energy levels through its detoxifying properties. Find it in cartons in your local health food stores or look for fresh young coconut water, if possible.
15. Green salad:
Salad greens are abundant in chlorophyll, and a wide range of vitamins and minerals, making a nice, green salad one of the fastest and easiest ways to get a quick energy burst. Salad greens are digested easily, and when served with a salad dressing that contains lemon, they're a great way to get some added nutrition while balancing energy levels throughout the day.
Nothing perks up a blah day like the sweet, tropical taste of pineapple. It's easy to digest and is full of the enzyme bromelain, which aids in digestion and helps to cleanse the body. For the biggest energy boost, enjoy pineapple on its own, on an empty stomach.
Members of the berry family -- and blueberries, in particular -- are known to promote brain function and boost energy levels, making them a great pre-test snack or a delicious treat when you need to focus on a big project. Consider this snack as soon as mental fatigue starts to set in!
Creamy, delicious avocados are one of my daily staples, as they're packed full of fiber and the healthy fats that will keep your skin smooth and youthful. As an added bonus, avocados are full of fiber and are associated with helping to lower cholesterol. Try them sliced up with some tomato slices, or added into a salad.
19. Raw granola:
Feeling hungry mid-day? Raw granola may just be your new best friend! Look for granola mixes that aren't overly processed (raw granola is best, if you can find it), that are gluten-free and that aren't packed with extra sugar. If you can't find a suitable commercial brand, consider making your own raw granola with a base of buckwheat groats.
20. Herbal tea:
Herbal tea is a great option for quelling hunger and boosting energy between meals or late at night. For the best results, check out red rooibos tea - which is packed with antioxidants and has a nice flavor - or any other caffeine-free herbal tea.
21. Dried figs:
Dried figs are truly an amazing snack, as they naturally purify our blood and help to dissolve mucus and eliminate toxins from our systems. For the biggest energy boost, check your local health food store for brands without any extra sugar or preservatives. (As a side note: dried figs are naturally high in sugar, so eat them in moderation and avoid them entirely if you have Candida or other sugar issue).
Not only are strawberries delicious -- they've got some surprising health benefits as well! For example, did you know that they're packed full of biotin (which helps support your skin, hair and nails), folic acid and antioxidants? They're also rich in fiber and vitamin C, which makes them a healthy, filling snack that's perfect for the summer!
There's no doubt that whole grains are good for you, but quinoa is one of the best in the bunch. Not only is it a complete protein (which means it contains all of the essential amino acids our bodies need), it's also one of the most nutritious and filling grains you can buy.
Long a staple of home spa day enthusiasts, cucumber packs a double punch, both as a hydrating, nutrient-rich snack and as a beauty aid that's full of the mineral silicon, which will make your hair shiny and nails strong. Cucumber slices taste great on their own, dipped in hummus or marinated in raw apple cider vinegar to create an enzyme-rich cucumber salad.
25. Raw sauerkraut:
Probiotics are a type of "good" bacteria found in the digestive tract that help to boost your immunity and synthesize B vitamins you need to maintain energy throughout the day. Raw sauerkraut supplies the probiotics and enzymes to help boost the probiotic ratio in your system. For an energy boost on a budget, check out my Probiotic and Enzyme Salad recipe, so you can make your own raw sauerkraut for just a few cents a day!
For more info on Kimberly Snyder, celebrity clinical nutritionist and author of "The Beauty Detox," click here.