Somewhere between lunch and finishing up the workday, we inevitably end up in snacking territory. We need fuel to keep our brains and bodies working to the best of their ability, but we often find ourselves with specific cravings and tend to reach for the most convenient thing to fill them. Our bodies are super smart in the way they pull us in one craving direction or another, often as a way of getting something we're lacking in the moment. If you're craving chocolate, for example, magnesium is often what you need. So it's important to listen to cravings and pivot just a little in the direction of something satisfying and healthy.
We looked at six common afternoon cravings and came up with swap suggestions to meet your need for whatever flavor, texture, or general vibe you're after. They're simple ideas that can easily be put together and will keep you going by giving a little nutritional boost along the way.
You're craving something crunchy…
Whether it's pretzels, chips, or something salty-sweet with a loud crunch you're after, we know that getting a crunchy fix can get out of hand quickly.
Swap: Simple Mills Almond Flour Crackers in fine-ground sea salt or rosemary flavor for a gluten-free option you can feel good about. Top these with guacamole, salsa, garlic yogurt dip, or nut butter and jam—depending on your mood—and crunch away!
You're craving baked sweets…
The sugary sweet buzz from a baked good can be our siren song in the afternoons but often leaves us with a crash that feels worse than when we started.
Swap: Bliss bites or Medjool dates filled with nut butter and a sprinkle of sea salt. Bliss balls are slightly more involved and make-ahead but can include dates, nut butter, nuts, seeds, cacao powder, dried fruit, and other superfood powders. Simply whizz together in a blender or food processor until you get a well-mixed dough. Then roll into balls and store in the fridge. (Check out mbg food-director-approved recipes like this glow-boosting one and this blood-sugar-balancing one).
If you can't be bothered will all of that, removing the pit from a date and topping it with a big spoonful of crunchy peanut butter can satisfy that sweet and creamy craving. Plus, you get some filling fat, fiber, and protein that will sustain you for longer.
You're craving another cup of coffee…
Post-lunch energy dips got you running to the nearest barista? While switching to decaf in the afternoon is usually a good idea for better sleep, try something that will leave you feeling more energized.
Swap: Kombucha, if iced coffee is calling your name. The sparkling, fermented tea usually does contain some caffeine, although less than coffee—so keep an eye out if you're sensitive.
If you're craving a warm latte, make a spiced chai with (naturally caffeine-free) rooibos tea, a pinch of cinnamon and cardamom, and the milk of your choice.
You're craving something super savory…
So, you want something salty with big flavor? Forget addictive artificial flavorings and vending machine fare; we've got you.
Swap: Everything seasoning—specifically Simple Mills Sprouted Seed Crackers in Everything flavor. It's a ready-to-go snack that's going to give you all the salty, garlicky high notes of a chip but with the healthy boost of sprouted seeds. Bonus: Top them with hummus and/or avocado for added fiber, fat, and a little protein.
You're craving chocolate…
Maybe the most notorious of cravings, chocolate can actually be a great snack when eaten mindfully. Fully enjoying a square or two of good-quality dark chocolate can be both satisfying and a little meditative. But there are other ways of enjoying this flavor, too.
Swap: Hot cacao. Mix: 1 to 2 tablespoons raw cacao powder + 1 cup milk of choice + Sweetener to taste (we like honey or maple syrup). Heat the milk (stovetop or microwave both work) and whisk in the cacao and sweetener. Pour into your favorite mug and enjoy. It will demolish your craving and give you a little lift. Bonus: You can add your favorite adaptogen or superfood powder to this for an extra-potent treat. And it can also satisfy that afternoon coffee craving!
You're craving candy…
If you find yourself wanting candy by the handful, we've got a couple of suggestions.
Swap: Fresh fruit or crystallized ginger. For candy cravings, we suggest berries or citrus (like little mandarins!) to get that sweet-sour hit and the joy of eating a big handful of something colorful. Crystallized ginger can be a great alternative too, if you want that chewy texture. Because the flavor of ginger is stronger and spicier than most candy, one or two pieces usually do the trick to beat the craving.
No matter what you find yourself craving, there's always a healthier alternative that will leave you feeling both satisfied and more energized to tackle the rest of your day. Work with your cravings—not against them—to find what makes you feel good.