The best brain foods also make delicious, brain-healthy snacks. With these 25 snack ideas and recipes, you can boost your brain nutrition between meals.
All around the world, people are eating more snacks than ever before.
Globally, more than 400 billion dollars are spent annually on snack foods. (1)
On average, we get 25% of our calories from snacks. (2)
And most of them are processed foods loaded with sugar, chemicals, and unhealthy fats that are bad news for your brain.
Processed snack foods aren’t really food at all.
They are “food-like” concoctions developed by scientists aiming for the “bliss point” — the perfect balance of fat, sugar, and salt that make these foods intentionally addictive. (3)
This gives new meaning to that old potato chip ad slogan “Bet you can’t eat just one,” doesn’t it?
Reasons to Eat Brain-Healthy Snacks
We think that it makes sense to choose brain-boosting foods that nourish rather than hijack your brain.
Eating brain foods when you snack can help prevent brain fog, fatigue, and that afternoon slump.
They can make you happier and more productive.
Brain-boosting foods can nip junk food cravings in the bud, making it easier to make healthy food choices all day long.
Having a supply of good brain food snacks on hand isn’t hard.
It just takes a little planning.
The trickiest part is just coming up with ideas.
Here are some great snack ideas featuring some of the best brain foods.
Snacks Made With Berries
Berries of all kinds, especially blueberries, are widely considered to be the #1 brain food.
They contain nutrients known to improve memory and learning.
Eating berries can help protect against Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other neurological diseases. (6)
Fresh, dried, and frozen berries are all good for your brain.
Surprisingly, in fact, frozen berries surprisingly contain more available nutrients than fresh berries. (7)
Here are some easy and tasty ways to eat more berries.
Dried Berry Trail Mix
You can buy dried berry trail mix pre-made or make your own.
Mix and match dried berries with nuts and seeds of your choice.
Add some dark chocolate chips or cacao nibs to make it even more brain-healthy.
Strawberry-Blueberry “Jello” for Grownups
This is not the chemically flavored and colored gelatin in the box.
This healthy version combines fresh or frozen berries and plain gelatin, an underrated superfood.
With only three ingredients, this Paleo Jello with Berries recipe couldn’t be easier.
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Berries With “Cream”
Fresh berries mixed with full-fat, plain Greek yogurt is a delicious and healthy snack.
(We’re don’t recommend low-fat products. Your brain is 60% fat and needs plenty of good dietary fats.)
Turn up the nutritional value of this snack by replacing yogurt with creamy, naturally sweet coconut cream.
Coconut is another top brain food.
Note that coconut cream is not the same as coconut milk.
It is very thick and usually comes in a can.
Snacks Featuring Avocado
Another excellent brain food is the avocado.
This unique fruit is 75% fat.
And for a food so creamy, it’s surprisingly high in fiber. (8)
It’s loaded with the same kind of brain-healthy fats (i.e., monounsaturated) found in olive oil.
Avocados boost production of the neurotransmitter dopamine, keeping you focused and motivated.
This fruit may even help prevent various neurological diseases. (9)
You can buy fresh or packaged guacamole from most grocery and health food stores.
But it’s so easy to make your own.
Mash the meat of an avocado with a fork and mix with your favorite taco sauce.
A squeeze of fresh lime juice is optional.
Scoop it up with healthy chips or raw vegetables.
Guacamole Stuffed Peppers
Avocados can be used to stuff sweet baby bell peppers in this Guacamole Bacon Stuffed Pepper Popper recipe.
They’re as scrumptious as they sound.
Peppers of all kinds, both hot and bell peppers, are high in vitamin C and antioxidants — both important brain nutrients.
Hot peppers contain capsaicin which improves circulation to the brain.
Don’t worry about eating a little bacon.
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Avocado and Banana Ice Cream
What to do with overripe bananas?
Slice, freeze, and blend them to make healthy “ice cream.”
What to do when you’ve also got a ripe avocado?
Add it to the frozen bananas mix while blending.
Your banana ice cream just got a serious upgrade in both taste and nutrition.
Season to taste with vanilla and/or cinnamon.
Instant Strawberry Pudding
Mix equal parts strawberries and avocado and blend until smooth.
Sweeten with a little honey or stevia, an all-natural non-caloric sweetener, if needed.
Snacks Containing Green Leafy Vegetables
With books like Fifty Shades of Kale, kale has gotten a lot of press lately as a superfood.
But all green leafy vegetables — like collards, spinach, chard, turnip greens, bok choy, and broccoli rabe — are brain-boosting foods.
Green leafy vegetables are one of the best sources of B vitamins — the “happy” or “anti-stress” vitamins.
Are kale chips the new potato chips?
You can buy packaged kale chips, but it’s easy to make your own.
Follow this super-simple Kale Chips recipe.
They are SO much better than the packaged version that you’ll never go back.
Blendtec, the blender company behind those hilarious Will it Blend? videos, has compiled a list of their favorite kale smoothie recipes.
Check out #8 on their list — Matcha Kale & Peach Smoothie.
Kale and matcha make it super-healthy, while bananas, peaches, and ginger make it super-tasty.
Matcha is a green tea powder made from the choicest tea leaves.
It’s so densely nutritious that we like to call it “green tea on steroids.”
The world is going nuts for coconuts!
In much of the world, it’s called the “tree of life.”
At one time, it was denounced as an unhealthy fat, but now its popularity has come full circle.
The medium-chain fats in coconut oil bypass glucose metabolism, delivering energy directly to the brain. (17)
- memory loss
- traumatic brain injury
Coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut water, and coconut meat are all excellent brain foods.
Dairy-Free Chocolate Ice Cream
This amazing Chocolate Avocado Ice Cream recipe combines several of our superfoods for the brain — coconut milk, chocolate, and avocado.
If you’re impatient and can’t wait for it to freeze, you can also eat it as a pudding.
Sugar-Free Coconut Popsicles
These Coconut Popsicles are nothing like the icy, sugary popsicles you’ll find at the grocery store.
They are rich and creamy, and sweetened with stevia.
No-Bake Coconut Macaroons
Store-bought macaroons are loaded with sugar.
Macaroon recipes usually call for separated and beaten egg whites — time-consuming and a bit of a pain.
This no-bake Salted Almond Macaroon recipe is brain-healthy and couldn’t be easier.
There’s also a chocolate version for chocolate lovers.
Snacks Containing Nuts and Seeds
They’re also rich in B complex vitamins, vitamin E, iron, zinc, and magnesium — all nutrients that your brain needs to function well and slow down brain aging. (20)
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Chia Seed Pudding
If you’ve heard of chia seeds, but aren’t sure what to do with them, this simple Chia Seed Pudding is a good place to start.
This recipe includes some interesting variations such as chai and matcha along with reliable standbys like chocolate and strawberry.
Chia seeds are rich in brain-essential omega-3s and contain a near ideal ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. (21)
Nut and Seed Butters
Nut butters no longer mean just peanut butter (which, in fact, isn’t a true nut anyway).
Now there are butters made from almonds, walnuts, or cashews, and seed butters from sunflower or sesame seeds (tahini).
You can spread nut butters on apples, bananas, crackers, bread, and raw vegetables.
Celery stuffed with almond butter and lined with almonds and dried blueberries is a nice upgrade from the old “bugs on a log” standby of peanut butter with raisins.
Wheat-Free Seed Crackers
Crackers are the foundation of many healthy snacks, but nowadays more people are minimizing their consumption of wheat and gluten.
This Paleo Cracker recipe makes a decent grain-free cracker from three kinds of seeds and is loaded with brain-healthy fats.
Perfect for anyone who is “watching their wheat.”
Store-bought roasted nuts are usually loaded with tons of salt and unhealthy added oils.
This recipe for Mexican Hot Chocolate-Spiced Pecans is lower in salt, but much higher in flavor.
Dashes of cinnamon, cocoa powder, and hot peppers contribute to both taste and nutrition.
Snacks Featuring Dark Chocolate
Chocolate is technically a seed, but we think that this beloved food deserves its own category!
Chocolate is rich in flavonoids, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds that contribute to improved mood, memory, focus, and attention. (22)
Dark chocolate is better for your brain than milk chocolate, since it has more flavonoids and less sugar.
Also, there’s some evidence that milk interferes with the absorption of flavonoids. (23)
No-Bake Chocolate Coconut Bars
Chocolate and coconut is a classic culinary combination.
If you like to snack on Mounds bars or chocolate-coated energy bars, you’ll love this healthy, no-bake Chocolate Covered Coconut Bar recipe.
Healthy Dipping Chocolate
The easiest way to make a healthy chocolate dip is to start with a high-quality dark chocolate bar.
Break up a chocolate bar and put the pieces in a glass bowl.
Microwave for about 1-2 minutes for each ounce of chocolate.
If you prefer a less intense chocolate experience, you might like this Dark Chocolate Greek Yogurt Dip for a healthy dipping chocolate.
I find berries, pineapple, bananas, and cherries are all greatly enhanced when dipped in chocolate. Yum!
Healthy Hot Chocolate
Calorie-laden beverages account for a substantial portion of the calories we consume from snacks.
A Starbucks vanilla frappuccino slides down easily, yet contains a jaw-dropping 400 calories. (24)
You can see how easy it would be to drink yourself fat.
Here’s our healthy, guilt-free version of hot chocolate.
Put 1 cup of milk in a small pan.
(Milk can be any dairy-free version such as almond or coconut, unsweetened.)
As it heats, whisk in 2 teaspoons cocoa powder, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, and a tablespoon of honey or one packet of stevia.
Snacks Made With Salmon
Fish, especially fatty fish like salmon, is often on brain food lists.
That’s because it’s one of the most important dietary sources of brain-essential omega-3 fatty acids.
Salmon isn’t often thought of as a snack item, but these recipes are elegant enough to serve as hors d’oeuvres.
And they are so easy that you shouldn’t hesitate to make them for yourself for some serious brain nutrition.
Smoked Salmon & Avocado Pate
This Smoked Salmon & Avocado Pate recipe combines two superfoods for your brain and it couldn’t be easier to make.
The recipe calls for serving on a bed of lettuce (great idea!), but you can also serve it on tomato slices or healthy crackers or use it to stuff celery or make a sandwich.
Stuffed Eggs With Salmon
This Stuffed Eggs with Salmon recipe puts a new twist on deviled eggs.
You can use either leftover cooked or canned salmon in this recipe.
Sea Vegetable-Based Snacks
Sea vegetables are truly a neglected group of superfoods.
They contain all 56 minerals essential for human health in a readily bioavailable form. (25)
Sea vegetables are an excellent source of iodine.
Low iodine can cause hypothyroidism, an extremely common problem.
Signs of low thyroid include poor memory, depression, and fatigue. (26)
The people of Okinawa, Japan are some of the healthiest and longest lived in the world.
Their regular consumption of sea vegetables is thought to be one of their secrets to longevity. (27)
Just one sheet of nori — the seaweed used to wrap sushi — has more omega-3s than two avocados. (28)
Toasted Nori Sheets
You can buy plain nori sheets to wrap sushi.
You can also buy flavored, toasted nori to snack on.
SeaSnax is a popular brand that comes in flavors like chipotle, onion, and wasabi (our favorite).
You can use this simple Nori Chip recipe to bake your own at home using your choice of seasoning.
Smoked Salmon Sushi
You can pick up pre-made or ready-to-order sushi at many grocery stores and health food stores, but you can easily make your own at home.
This Smoked Salmon Sushi Roll recipe contains brain-healthy smoked salmon and avocado.
Cook the rice ahead and you can assemble fresh sushi in just minutes.
Brain Food Snacks: Take the Next Step
Since snacks make up a big part of the average diet, eating healthy snacks is paramount for brain health.
Having brain-healthy snacks on hand is not hard, it just takes a little planning.
With these 25 brain-boosting snack ideas, you can see that there’s a wide variety of snacks, both sweet and savory, that are delicious, good for your brain, and easy to prepare.
For more brain food recipes, see 50 Yummy & Healthy Brain Food Recipes.