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, 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 factor” — 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?
We think that it makes sense to choose brain-boosting foods that nourish rather than hijack your brain.
Eating the best 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 can be coming up with ideas.
We’ve got plenty of those.
Here are some great snack ideas featuring some of the best brain foods, plus a little background on why they’re so good for your brain.
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 even protect against dementia and Alzheimer’s. (6)
Fresh, dried, and frozen berries are all good brain foods.
In fact, frozen berries surprisingly contain more available nutrients than fresh. (7)
Here are some easy and delicious 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 jelly in the box.
This healthy version combines fresh or frozen berries and plain gelatin, an underrated superfood. (8)
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 brain power of this snack by replacing yogurt with creamy, naturally sweet coconut cream.
Coconut is a top brain power 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. (9)
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It’s loaded with brain-healthy fats similar to the kind found in olive oil.
Avocados boost production of the neurotransmitter dopamine which keeps you focused and motivated.
This fruit may even help prevent Alzheimer’s. (10)
You can buy fresh or packaged guacamole from most grocery and health food stores.
But it’s ridiculously 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.
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 or cinnamon which have brain-boosting properties themselves. (14)
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.
Related on Be Brain Fit —
Brain Vitamins: Essential for a Healthy Brain
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.”
But here in the US, it was denounced for decades as an unhealthy fat.
Now its popularity has come full circle.
The medium-chain fats in coconut oil bypass glucose metabolism, getting energy directly to the brain. (18)
Coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut water, and coconut meat are all good brain foods.
Dairy-Free Chocolate Ice Cream
This amazing Nourishing Chocolate Ice Cream recipe combines several of our superfoods for the brain — coconut milk, chocolate, and avocado.
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 us chocolate lovers.
Snacks Containing Nuts and Seeds
They’re also rich in B complex vitamins, vitamin E, iron, zinc, and magnesium — all nutrients your brain needs to function well and stave off brain aging. (21)
Chia Seed Pudding
If you’ve heard of chia seeds, but aren’t sure what to do with them, this simple Chia Seed Pudding recipe is a good place to start.
This recipe includes some interesting variations including chai, and matcha, along with reliable standbys like chocolate and strawberry.
This recipe provides 148% of your RDA for brain-essential omega-3s!
Nut and Seed Butters
Nut butters no longer mean just peanut butter (which isn’t actually a 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 mango 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 aware of the downside of wheat and gluten.
This Paleo Cracker recipe makes a decent grain-free cracker that’s made with three kinds of seeds and is loaded with brain-healthy fats.
Perfect for those of us who are “watching our wheat.”
Store-bought roasted nuts are usually loaded with tons of salt and unhealthy added oils.
This Mexican Hot Chocolate-Spiced Pecan recipe is lower in salt but much higher in flavor.
Dashes of cinnamon, cocoa powder, and hot peppers contribute to both taste and brain nutrition.
Snacks Featuring Dark Chocolate
Chocolate is actually a seed, but we think this beloved food deserves its own category!
Chocolate contains flavonoids that contribute to improved mood, memory, focus, and attention. (22)
Milk renders some of chocolate’s health benefits less effective, so dark chocolate is better for your brain than milk chocolate. (23)
No-Bake Chocolate Coconut Bars
If you like to snack on brownies, Mounds bars, or chocolate-coated energy bars, you’ll love this healthy and easy 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.
Related on Be Brain Fit —
9 Proven Brain Benefits of Dark Chocolate
If you prefer a less intense chocolate experience, you should like this Dark Chocolate Greek Yogurt recipe 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 half of the calories we consume from snacks. (24)
A Starbucks vanilla frappuccino contains a jaw-dropping 430 calories. (25)
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 coconut milk in a small pan.
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 called “brain food.”
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 it is one of the best brain power foods around.
These recipes are elegant enough to serve as hors d’oeuvres.
But they are so easy, you shouldn’t hesitate to make them for yourself for some serious brain nutrition.
Salmon Avocado Pate
This Salmon Avocado Pate recipe combines two superfoods for your brain and it couldn’t be easier to make.
The recipe calls for serving it on a bed of bok choy (great idea!), but you can also serve it on lettuce, tomato slices, or healthy crackers.
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. (26)
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. (27)
The people of Okinawa, Japan are some of the healthiest and longest lived in the world.
Their regular consumption of sea vegetables may be one of their secrets to longevity. (28)
Just one sheet of nori — the seaweed used to wrap sushi — has more omega-3s than two avocados. (29)
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 with flavors like chipotle, onion, and wasabi (our favorite).
You can also use this simple Nori Chip recipe to bake your own at home using your choice of seasoning.
Smoked Salmon Sushi
You can often pick up pre-made or ready-to-order sushi at many grocery stores and health food stores.
Not all sushi contains raw fish.
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
We’ve given you 25 brain-boosting snack ideas to get you started.
You can see that there’s a wide variety of snacks, both sweet and savory, that are good for your brain, as well as delicious and easy to prepare.
Now that you know about these best brain foods, go ahead and mix and match them to create your own versions of brain-healthy snacks.
For more brain food recipes, see our article 50 Yummy & Healthy Brain Food Recipes.