It’s that time of day when we start to stare into space (and maybe almost nod off). Yep, we’ve all been there. It’s between breakfast and lunch… And then again between lunch and the end of the day, when everyone in the office is looking for an energy boost. If it’s your job to help your people stay hunger-free, it’s probably time to ramp up your offerings of tasty snacks (that are healthy, too).
Let us help. Humble-brag alert, it’s not our first trip to the office snack rodeo. We’re the snack experts, snack gurus, your go-to snack sages. It’s our job to help keep you up-to-date on the tastiest and healthiest snack trends that will keep your office crowd well pleased. But, before we get into all the best-sellers, snacking tips and trends out there, let’s take it to the taste buds.
It’s true – the topic of tasty snacks that are healthy is subjective. Who’s to say because one person thinks a snack is totally delish, you will too?
A lot of science that goes into this. In fact, each of us has approximately 4,000 taste buds that function like taste receptor parking zones on our tongues. So far, scientists have identified five main categories of tastes:
According to an article on Food Insight, the receptors in our mouths send these taste sensations to our brains. Then, with other key players in the sensory system, we begin to distinguish as many as 100,000 flavors! And, this is a big deal when it comes to the consumer. In fact, the same article reports that 84% of Americans rate taste as “a top driver of [food] purchases.”
A bit of taste bud wisdom: Don’t forget to ask your team what they like before making any big decisions about what to offer when it comes to tasty snacks that are healthy. What might be delicious to one person could taste like a mouthful of soapy water to another – sorry, cilantro, but there’s science behind this one.
What to eat when, and why
Psychologist and workplace consultant, Ron Friedman, Ph.D., writes on the Harvard Business Journal blog that “food is fuel”. And, like the fuel we put in our cars, the food we eat is connected to our “cognitive performance.” That’s why he says, “A poor decision at lunch can derail an entire afternoon.”
Among his insights are these research-based strategies to avoid day-time hunger pitfalls:
- Decide what to eat before hunger pangs start. “Studies show we’re a lot better at resisting salt, calories, and fat in the future than we are in the present.”
- Keep dips in glucose at bay. “Smaller, more frequent meals maintain your glucose at a more consistent level than relying on a midday feast.”
- Keep healthy snacks on stand-by, where you can see them. “Make healthy snacking easier to achieve than unhealthy snacking.”
Hear from our expert
Leigh-Anne Wooten, Canteen Project Manager and nutrition expert (MS, RDN/LDN, FAND, LSS BB) agrees that planning ahead and timing are everything when it comes to meals and snacks:
“The way most Americans eat is flip flopped. We should be eating more in the morning and at lunch. That way, our bodies have the opportunity to use that fuel as energy, compared to eating the bulk of our food at night. There’s a lot of emerging research around the concept of aligning your meals with your natural circadian rhythm. Doing so may lead to many health improvements.”
She advises eating a mix of carbohydrates (fruits, veggies, beans, whole grains), good fats (from seeds, nuts, fish, avocado) and lean protein early in the day. Then, by dinner, start thinking “light and lean,” with fewer carbs.
Snacking when stressed can disrupt all of the above, Leigh-Anne says, especially if we give in to the demands of a sweet tooth. She suggests going for the crunchy foods instead. “The act of crunching can serve as a stress reliever, and choices like roasted chick peas, edamame, popcorn, celery and carrots pack all kinds of health benefits.”
Tasty trends to watch
Now that we’ve covered the facts and some tips about tasty snacks that are healthy, let’s look at trends. Nutraceuticals World shared results from a study conducted by KIND. According to the survey, these categories are expected to have a strong presence moving forward:
- Seed butters – No knock on nut butters, such as almond, cashew, and walnut, but those with nut allergies will be glad to know that all kinds of seed butters are making their way to market. Be on the lookout for these varieties: sunflower, pumpkin, and watermelon.
- CBD – Look for this new food ingredient to show up in products like yogurts, soups and salad dressings.
- African flavors – Flavorful spices and superfoods, such as harissa, berbere, dukkha, and tiger nuts, inspired by African cuisine are finding favor.
- Digestive health – Gut-pleasing microbes and fiber-added foods will continue to win over digestive tracts everywhere.
- Added vs. natural sugars – Foods and beverages that have naturally occurring sugars versus those added in the manufacturing process will be a big hit.
- Infused waters – Favorites such as coconut water have staying power, but make room for new products like skin-boosting cactus water and the not-as-sweet maple water.
- Meatless and vegan options – Meat-free and dairy-free foods will continue their popularity; look for more variety in vegan yogurts and cheeses, as well as meatless jerky and protein snacks.
Even more trends
Additionally, trend-watchers at Innova Market Insights revealed even more snack trends to look for. (Side note: if you’d like to keep your crickets chirping outside versus baked in your bag of chips, you may want to read selectively.)
- More vegan-friendly and allergy-conscious food launches
- Low sugar, sugar-free and no added sugar labeling
- Innovations in potato, corn, wheat and soy snacks
- More veggie and ancient grain varieties in chips and crisps, including lentil, carrot, quinoa, and snap pea
- Popcorn varieties, in terms of flavors and health benefits. Look for new bold, spicy and savory flavors. Anyone up for some Nori Toasted Seaweed or Matcha Green Tea popcorn?
- New protein sources, such as dried, ground insects. Yes, you read that right. One company, Chirps, has a line of chips made from nutrient-rich… crickets.
Tasty snacks that are healthy – and popular
When it comes to snacks, we all know sharing is caring. Here’s a list of eight popular tasty snacks that are healthy, too, based on our 2018 sales. Why not try some of these in your office, set up a taste test, or introduce a snack-of-the-month rotation? Your team will notice the effort, and you might surprise yourselves – not to mention your 4,000 taste buds!
- Lesser Evil Buddha Bowl Organic Popcorn (gluten-free, non-GMO and vegan)
- Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars (non-GMO and vegan with gluten-free options)
- The Better Chip (gluten-free, non-GMO and vegan)
- Dang Coconut Chips (gluten-free, non-GMO and vegan)
- Boomchickapop Popcorn (gluten-free, non-GMO and vegan)
- OneBar (gluten-free and vegan)
- Way Better Snacks Tortilla Chips (gluten-free, non-GMO and vegan)
- Healthy Warrior Bars (gluten-free, non-GMO and vegan)
Need a little help picking the right mix of tasty snacks that are healthy? Get in touch and we’ll help you put together a custom offering that’s just right for your office, on your terms, (with or without the crickets)!
Want more information about ordering the best snacks for your breakroom? Check out our “Best Office Snacks” newsfeed.