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Midterm season. A chaotic time when exams, projects, classes, work and everything tough seems to be thrown our way. Potentially filled with late nights and skipped meals, it’s challenging to keep everything in order. 

Trying to find time to eat can be particularly tricky — is it worth it to stop working in order to make a meal, buy something to snack on or eat, when you could just cram or finish just one more assignment or project? 

Perhaps it’s not in your budget to buy fast food from the EMU food or you’ve already had a coffee cup (or four) too many to be considered healthy. If you have some time, consider these healthy snack alternatives that can potentially be full meals. Save your wallet and mind-space by carrying these snacks around this season.

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Hummus

Hummus goes great with crackers, vegetables and bread, so the possibilities of pairing this with other foods is an opportunity to be able to mix things up. Hummus is traditionally made with chickpeas or garbanzo beans blended together with olive oil, tahini, lemon juice and spices

Hummus has a lot of protein and fiber, as well as plenty of other vitamins and minerals like folate, iron, magnesium, vitamin B and calcium. Additionally, because of its olive oil content, hummus has anti-inflammatory benefits and helps control blood sugar levels. Eating snacks full of protein keeps you fuller longer, which will help you to concentrate on your work without worrying about your next meal.

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Popcorn

A great snack that’s easy to mindlessly munch on, popcorn is typically lower in calories than other snacks, but keeps you fuller longer, due to it being a whole-grain, complex carb. Popcorn actually has some anti-inflammatory benefits, as well as high levels of fiber (15 grams) and high in polyphenol antioxidants which are linked to better blood circulation and digestion.

The difficulty of having popcorn as a snack is the many flavor options on the market. The popcorn itself may be healthy, but the addition of excess salt, sugar and artificial flavors quickly make popcorn very unhealthy. Stick to air popped popcorn or popcorn brands that have as few additives or unpronounceable ingredients as possible, so the health benefits of the snack is not lost. Like hummus, the high protein and fiber content will help keep you full longer, but with different seasonings the snack does not have to be a “boring” one.

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Greek Yogurt and Fruit

Again, yogurt is full of protein and will keep you sustained. Greek yogurt has twice as much protein than regular yogurt. Combining fruits into your yogurt will curb your craving for sweets by balancing out your blood sugar levels. Depending on which fruits you mix into your yogurt, you’ll have a blend of different vitamins and minerals from your snack. 

Many brands now have a Greek yogurt line with a growing number of flavors, so you can still get the fruit content if you can’t get your hands on fresh fruit.

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Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds are nutritious, providing fiber, protein and antioxidants like previously mentioned snacks. Just a handful of one variety or a mix are about 200 calories per quarter of a cup, but avoid anything excessive seasoning or salt. The most healthy options are plain, raw or roasted, but avoid varieties roasted in vegetable or seed oils.

Nuts can provide the midday crunch you might be craving from chips or cookies, plus they keep you full far longer than if you only had chips or cookies.

Midterm exams, projects and other big stress-inducing life events: whatever you may be caught up in, a snack craving can hit at any time. Even past midterm season, if you find yourself struggling to maintain consistent meals, these snacks are comparatively inexpensive and accessible.