Even the most draconian of dinnertime dieters can be far less scrupulous when it comes to healthy snacks, and plenty of worthy lifestyle goals are sabotaged every afternoon as desk drawers are opened to reveal multipacks of savoury saturated fats.
The UK loves crisps, and even though substantial efforts have been made to make them more nutritious, these little flakes of potatoey heaven remain firmly in the unhealthy camp. However, no one is expecting you to quit crisps cold turkey (one of the least popular flavours, that). There are plenty of healthier options, and Coach has run the rule over them.
Healthier Alternatives to Crisps
If you like cheese puffs but are trying to go without in an effort to eat a little healthier, we are about to rock your world. These cheesy puffs are mostly made from black-eyed pea flour and rice flour, and are legitimately healthier. And tasty. And cheesy. Well, if you pick that flavour at least – sweet chilli and salt and pepper are also available, the latter being our favourite. But with regard to how healthy Bepps are, it’s worth taking a moment to compare cheese-flavour Bepps to Cheetos. Per 100g, Bepps have 16.6g fat versus 23g for Cheetos, while protein is 15g against 5.6g and fibre is 4.4g compared with 1.6g. It’s also worth noting Bepps are sold in single-serving packets which clock in at 91-92 calories. If that’s not a healthier crisp, we don’t know what is.
Buy from Amazon | £20.99 for 24 22g packs
Rude Health Cornitas Black Bean
How healthy these corn-based crisps are will be entirely dictated by your choice of packet size. Choose the 30g pack and you’re looking at a perfectly acceptable 0.5g of saturated fats, 0.59g of salt and 118 calories, as well as a welcome 3.5g of fibre and 3.4g of protein. Choose the 90g bag and you’re looking at three times that because you will not stick to the recommended 30g serving size of these deeeeeeeelicious nacho substitutes. Alternatively, try the not-so-moreish chickpea and lentil flavour for a better chance of avoiding gluttony.
Buy from Rude Health | £20 for 24 30g bags
Well & Truly Crunchy Smokey Paprika
Some crisps tickle the tastebuds of all age groups – your Walkers, your Pringles, your Doritos. Others, however, don’t stay with you into adulthood. Take Nik Naks, for example: once you hit your mid-to-late teens, it’s almost like you stop seeing them on the shelves. And that’s a bit of a shame because Nik Naks are pretty great, and Well & Truly’s healthier version of them are pretty great too. The crunchy sticks are packed with flavour – one member of the Coach team was actually overwhelmed by the paprika punch, calling it “a bit much”, but more courageous crisp fans will be delighted. They’re pretty similar to crisps on all nutritional fronts bar fat, coming in at around half the total fat you’ll find in a serving of Paprika Pringles. Or indeed Nik Naks, if you’re still eating them.
Buy from Well & Truly | £2 for three 30g packs
Nim’s Beetroot And Parsnip Vegetable Crisps
These are straight-up healthy. No fat, no saturates, no salt, just 59 calories’ worth of air-dried vegetables that count as one of your five-a-day and contain 4g of fibre. Like us you’ll probably find that the crunch is a bit soft, the parsnip is pretty bland and it’s only the sweetness of the beetroot that saves the experience. But like us, you’ll probably finish the bag anyway and leave the experience satisfied (thanks, fibre). There are also fruit crisps available in three flavours (apple, pear or pineapple) if you can get your head around sweet crisps.
Buy from Nim’s | £1.25 per 18g bag
Calsway Nana’s Beetroot Crisps
The calorie count is a fairly chunky 200 in a pack of these beetroot crisps, but there’s minimal amounts of saturated fat while the fibre (3.51g) and protein (2.97g) tallies are strong, meaning you can expect these to satisfy. That’s always important, because nothing increases the calorie count more than a second bag. It’s hard to say if beetroot crisps will bring the same endurance-boosting benefits claimed for the nitrate-rich purple veg generally, but it’s worth a try.
Buy from Calsway | £13.95 for six 35.5g packs
Snack a Jacks
Any flavour of Snack a Jacks is a decent bet for your afternoon snack – after all, they all have far fewer calories and less saturated fat than crisps – but we recommend the salt and vinegar ones, because they are so mouth-tinglingly vinegary. One common problem with ditching crisps for healthier options is that they can skimp on flavour, so an option that packs a proper taste punch is a welcome find. Another plus point for Snack a Jacks is their ubiquity and price. These aren’t a niche option you have to visit a health food store to find – they’re everywhere in various pack sizes, and they cost about the same as regular crisps.
Yushoi Snapea Rice Sticks
Who’d have thought combining rice and green peas could create such a satisfying salty snack? These sticks come in six flavours, with Soy & Balsamic Vinegar the stand-out, and each pack contains half the fat and double the fibre and protein of regular crisps. A winner all round.
Ape Coconut Curls
How healthy you consider these to be depends on your view of coconuts, which have acquired a possibly undeserved reputation as a superfood of late. Regardless, these thin curls of the coconut flesh are a super-tasty combo of sweet and savoury. Each 20g pack does pile in 7.2g of saturated fat, which is the kind the NHS recommends reducing in your diet, but there’s a lot more fibre in these coconut curls than in regular crisps.
Two Chicks Chirps Egg White Bites
Egg crisps are not a particularly appealing thought, but disregard any preconceptions – these are the best we tried. Chirps are high in protein, packing a chunky 9.1g into their 28g bags, and have less than half the fat of regular crisps. More importantly, they passed the taste test with top marks, especially the salt and black pepper flavour.
Available at most major supermarkets, twochicks.co.uk | £1.49 a pack
Itsu Seaweed Thins
If you all desire from your crisp replacement is the delicious taste of salt on your tongue, these will fit the bill. They’re a mere 24 calories a pack, largely because there’s hardly anything in there (“thin” is in the name, to be fair), so unless you’re very disciplined you’ll be back raiding the snack drawer before you know it.
Available at Tesco, Sainsbury’s and other supermarkets, itsugrocery.com | £2 for a pack of three
Kettle Veg Chips
The packet is white and there are pictures of vegetables on it, but these actually aren’t the healthiest of treats, with a serving of lightly salted containing about the same amount of calories, fat and saturated fat as regular ready salted crisps. However, they also have a fair bit more fibre, so you’ll feel fuller for longer and maybe eat less bad stuff in the long run.
Available at Tesco, Sainsbury’s and other supermarkets, kettlechips.co.uk | £1.50 for 150g bag
Metcalfe’s Popcorn Crisps
Popcorn is a fine, lower-fat alternative to crisps – and now it even comes in crisp form to really ease the transition. The health benefits compared with regular crisps don’t really extend beyond reducing the fat, but they are probably the most “crisp-like” alternative on this list, in terms of pure satisfaction.
Pret Crisped Kale
Cooking vegetables destroys vital nutrients, which is why Pret’s crisped kale is dried and seasoned rather than fried or baked, providing maximum antioxidants and flavour – plus a bonus 3g of welcome muscle-building protein.
pret.co.uk | £1.50