That feeling when you’re not really hungry, but you just feel like munching something to keep your mouth busy or maybe you are hungry but unable to cook at that time. What do you go for then? Your guess is as good as mine- SNACKS, yes! A snack is a small portion of food generally eaten between meals. Snacks do more than keep your mouth busy, they also satisfy you till the time for your next meal. With the increase in prevalence of diabetes and other life-threatening diseases, healthy home-made snacks have gained more awareness as people are more conscious of what they consume.

Here are some healthy snacks and what you stand to gain from them:

  • BOILED CORN AND COCONUT (OWOWO)

This is popularly known as “owowo” in yoruba language. It is a very delicious and filling member of the healthy snacks class which consists of boiled corn and thinly sliced coconut meat.  Asides the fact that it requires little or no preparation and the ingredients can be easily obtained from the  market, it is also highly nutritious. Corn, being a whole grain, still contains most of its nutrients such as fibres, carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and minerals. The glycemic index (GI) of corn is quite low, therefore, it does not cause a rapid increase in blood sugar level. Yellow corn is also a good source of carotenoids, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, which helps to promote eye health.

Coconut, the other component of “owowo” is rich in fibres, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals. It contains phenolic compounds, which are antioxidants that help protect cells from oxidative damage, thus lowering disease risks.

However, coconut is high in fat and calories, so eat moderately, especially if you are trying to lose weight.

  • DONKWA

Donkwa is another one of the tasty healthy snacks made from finely ground corn and groundnuts. This snack is particularly loved by young children. Groundnuts are rich in niacin (vitamin B3) which helps to promote normal brain functions and boosts memory. From studies, it has been established that regular consumption of nuts may reduce the risk for heart disease, as they are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids which help in that regard. Nuts, when eaten within moderation also helps to maintain a healthy weight.

The health benefits of corn, the other component of donkwa, has been discussed earlier.

  • BOILED/ ROASTED GROUNDNUTS (PEANUTS)

These legumes are easy to come by, cheap and very nutritious. They contain nutrients like proteins, vitamins, minerals, fibre and fat. They are also a good source of energy. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, groundnuts contain all the 20 amino acids in variable proportions and is a rich source of the protein, arginine. Studies have shown that groundnuts also contain powerful antioxidants called isoflavones which may reduce the risk of cancer, diabetes and coronary heart diseases. Groundnuts are energy-dense snacks, and so including them as a snack may make you consume fewer calories later in the day. Home-cooked groundnuts (without salt) serve as a good snack for those with diabetes, but still, they should be eaten in moderation.

Please note that groundnuts (and products containing them) may cause allergies in some individuals.

  • POPCORN

Popcorn is commonly associated with movie theatres and all, unknown to many, there are many benefits associated with this delicious snack. Though popcorn is a healthy snack, most people use large amounts of salt, butter, or other toppings that makes it unhealthy and detrimental to our health. When eaten plain, it is both a delicious and beneficial snack for all. Being a whole grain, popcorn has high amount of fibre, which is good for digestive health and promoting regular bowel movements. Popcorn is also rich in important nutrients like vitamins, minerals and also a good source of antioxidants.

  • CASHEW NUTS

Cashew nuts are crunchy and delicious. They are packed with soluble dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals and numerous health-promoting phytochemicals that help protect from diseases. They are good sources of essential minerals with high concentration of manganese, potassium, copper, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium. They also a good source of many essential vitamins such as pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, riboflavin, and thiamine. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) stated that the nutrients in nuts, such as unsaturated fatty acids, protein, fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants may confer heart-protective, anti-carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory properties. Generally, nuts are a great snack for those trying to lose weight as they are nutritious and tend to keep you full for a longer time.

Please note that cashew nuts, just like groundnuts, may cause allergies in some individuals.

Please note that groundnuts (and products containing them) may cause allergies in some individuals. 

  • NIGERIAN GROUNDNUT CAKE (KULI-KULI)

Commonly eaten alone or with soaked garri, “kuli-kuli” has gained popularity as a snack food in Nigeria over the years. It is a cruchy snack made from roasted groundnuts, ground into a semi-paste, combined with spices such as ginger and chilli pepper, and then deep fried until it hardens. Benefits of groundnuts, the major ingredient in kuli-kuli, has been discussed earlier.

  • NIGERIAN CORN CAKE (KOKORO)

This is a crunchy corn meal snack which originated from the western part of Nigeria. It is made by preparing a dough consisting of corn meal, sugar and hot water, rolling the dough to form desired shape and deep-frying. Honey can be used as a sweetener, instead of sugar. Health benefits of corn, the major ingredient in “kokoro”, has been discussed earlier.