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8 healthy snacks first responders can grab between calls

Quick snacks to keep your energy levels up

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Spare time is a luxury for first responders. You must keep your energy levels up while you are on the job, but running inside a convenience store to mull over healthy snacks while you are doing so is often out of the question.

Here are six healthy snack options that require minimal (if any) preparation that you can have handy to keep your body fueled through your shifts.

1. Mixed nuts and seeds: A handful of mixed nuts and seeds, such as almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds, can provide a good source of protein, healthy fats, and fiber. They are calorie-dense, meaning they can deliver a significant amount of energy in small servings, and they don’t require refrigeration.

2. Apple slices with peanut butter: Apples provide fiber and vitamins, while peanut butter offers healthy fats and protein. This combination makes for a satisfying snack that’s also quick to eat. Choosing natural peanut butter without added sugars or oils can make this snack even healthier.

3. Hard-boiled eggs: Some don’t find hard-boiled eggs as delicious as their scrambled or sunny-side-up counterparts, but hard-boiled eggs are a simple snack that will give you a healthy burst of protein, minerals and vitamins. If necessary, you can even bring along a little saltshaker to rev them up a bit. Boil up a batch once a week and snack away when necessary.

4. Superfood smoothie squeeze packs: Keep your hands muck and guck free with yummy smoothie squeeze packs that are both nutritious and delicious. Load up on plant-based organic snacks that contain plant protein and prebiotic fiber, and are free from added sugar and GMOs. Just pop the top and squeeze away when your body is craving some fuel.

5. Dried meats: Dried meats or beef jerky have long been the go-to snack for meat-lovers seeking a solid protein boost. The most common options are beef, pork and chicken, but you can find varieties with uncommon meats such as alligator, ostrich and kangaroo. Just try to veer away from offerings that include too much salt and sugar to keep these treats on the healthy side.

6. Energy bars: Not all energy bars are created equal, so it’s important to choose ones with wholesome ingredients and that are low in added sugars. Bars made with nuts, seeds, whole grains and dried fruits can provide a quick and convenient source of energy and nutrients.

7. Bananas: Bananas are delicious, aren’t that messy, and have numerous health benefits such as providing energy, promoting muscle function, increasing your fiber intake and delivering antioxidants. When possible, try to pair bananas with healthy fats or protein to keep your blood sugar from soaring and then crashing soon after.

8. Popcorn: At first mention of popcorn, many will immediately envision a movie theater employee dousing a bucket with liquid butter. The good news is that popcorn can be served up in a much healthier fashion that makes it a great alternative to traditional potato chips. If you pop your own kernels, just take it easy on (or completely nix) the salt and butter. If you are buying pre-popped popcorn, look for varieties that do the same.

These snacks are not only healthy but also practical for first responders who need nourishment that fits into their fast-paced and mobile lifestyle. It’s also important to stay hydrated with water or electrolyte-replenishing beverages, especially during long shifts or in hot weather.

Watch: On-shift craving crushers

What’s your go-to healthy snack on calls? Email the editor.

Dryw Keltz is a freelance writer living in San Diego County. He has written hundreds of news features, human interest profiles, and film and music reviews over the course of his 20-plus-year career. Keltz has a bachelor’s degree in English writing with an emphasis on creative non-fiction from the University of Pittsburgh.