India is known for its delicious and flavorful snacks. From samosas to jalebis, the snack options seem endless. However, many typical Indian snacks are deep-fried and laden with oil and calories.
The good news is there are plenty of healthy Indian snack alternatives to satisfy your cravings. Here are 7 Indian snacks that are nutritious and good for you:
1. Fresh Fruit
Fresh fruit makes for a convenient, tasty, and healthy snack. Popular fruits in India include mangos, bananas, guavas, papayas, and lychees.
Fruits are packed with important vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. For example, mangos are rich in vitamins A and C. Papayas contain antioxidants like lycopene. Bananas are a good source of potassium.
Fruit is also low in calories and fat, making it a smart snack option if you’re watching your weight. Enjoy fruit on its own, or try dipping pieces in a bit of yogurt.
2. Roasted Chickpeas
Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are a staple in Indian cooking. Luckily they also make for a crunchy and nutritious snack when roasted.
To make roasted chickpeas, drain and rinse a can of chickpeas. Toss them with olive oil and your favorite spices like cumin, coriander, chili powder, or garam masala. Roast at 400°F for 30-40 minutes until crispy.
The chickpeas pack fiber, protein, and key nutrients like iron, phosphorus, and folate. By roasting them, you skip the oil used in deep-frying while still getting a tasty crunch. Enjoy the chickpeas on their own or sprinkle them on salads.
3. Roasted Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are nutritious additions to an Indian diet. Options like almonds, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds can be roasted with spices for a tasty snack anytime.
Nuts and seeds are great sources of healthy fats, protein, magnesium, and vitamin E. Roasting brings out their natural flavors without adding unnecessary calories. Try roasted peanuts or cashews seasoned with cayenne and garlic.
4. Dahi (Yogurt)
Plain yogurt, known as dahi, is used often in Indian cuisine. It also makes for a nutrient-packed snack. Opt for unsweetened yogurt to avoid added sugars.
Dahi provides a good dose of calcium, vitamin D, and probiotics that support digestive health. Top your yogurt with fruit like mango or banana and a drizzle of honey for added nutrition and natural sweetness. You can also mix in spices like roasted cumin or mint.
5. Cucumber Raita
Raita is a yogurt-based condiment that can also be enjoyed on its own as a cooling snack. Traditional raita combines diced cucumber and mint with yogurt and spices.
The yogurt provides protein and calcium, while the cucumber offers hydration and nutrients like vitamin K. Raita can be a perfect snack on a hot day or paired with a spicy curry to balance the heat.
6. Oats Upma
Upma is a savory Indian dish typically made from semolina and spices. An easy grab-and-go version can be made with oats.
Simply combine cooked oats with roasted nuts and seeds, grated carrot, spices like mustard seeds and turmeric, and a dash of yogurt if you like. The oats provide energizing complex carbs, fiber, and iron.
7. Banana Chips
While deep-fried banana chips should be enjoyed sparingly, you can get the same tasty crunch by baking plantain or green banana slices.
Toss sliced banana with a small amount of coconut or olive oil. Sprinkle on cinnamon or cardamom. Bake at 250°F for 1-2 hours until crispy. Baked banana chips pack in nutrients like vitamin B6, vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium.
FAQ About Healthy Indian Snacks
What are some tips for choosing healthy Indian snacks?
– Opt for baked, roasted, or fresh versions instead of deep-fried
– Look for snacks made from whole foods like fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, and yogurt
– Avoid snacks with artificial colors, flavors, or lots of added sugar
– Watch your portions and stick to a single serving
Are samosas and pakoras unhealthy?
Traditional samosas and pakoras are deep-fried, so they contain a lot of oil and calories. Occasional small servings can be enjoyed, but they should not make up the bulk of your diet. Try baked versions or fill your own air-fried samosa shells with roasted veggies.
What are some easy healthy Indian snacks to make at home?
Some healthy Indian snacks you can easily make are roasted chickpeas, baked plantain chips, air-popped popcorn with spices, homemade trail mix with nuts and dried fruit, sliced apple with cardamom, roasted pumpkin seeds with garam masala, and yogurt smoothies with mango or banana.
Are sweets like gulab jamun and jalebi off-limits on a healthy diet?
Traditional Indian sweets should be enjoyed occasionally as a treat. When you do indulge, stick to a small portion. Also look for alternatives made with less oil and sugar, like yogurt- or milk-based sweets. Avoid sweets as daily snacks and aim for healthier choices that provide nutrition.
Can you make healthy chaat at home?
Yes, you can absolutely make healthy chaat at home by modifying traditional recipes. Use baked puri or rice cakes instead of fried puri. Load up on diced veggies like tomatoes rather than heavy sauces. Omit unhealthy toppings like sev. Add chickpeas or yogurt for protein. Chaat can be a balanced snack with some adjustments.