18 snack ideas under two exchanges to keep you healthy and satisfied!

Monday, 6 July 2020

When the temperature drops many of us turn towards warming comfort foods to fill the belly and satisfy the soul. To satisfy this urge we have put together 18 low cost winter snack ideas that are under two exchanges – that’s less than 30g of carbs.

What is an ‘exchange’?

All carbohydrates are converted to glucose within about two hours of eating, directly affecting your blood glucose levels. Counting carbohydrate exchanges is one way of estimating the amount of carbohydrate in food. A carbohydrate exchange is an amount of food that contains approximately 15 grams of carbohydrate. If a snack is under two exchanges, it means that it has less than 30g of carbohydrate.

Please consider your own individual nutrient and carbohydrate requirements and adjust the servings as needed. If you are unsure of your requirements consult an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) for individualised advice.


Before we go through some snack ideas, ask yourself what you are looking for in a snack.

Do I need to snack?

Snacks can help you meet your daily nutrition needs (i.e. fibre, vitamins, minerals, healthy fats etc), stabilise blood glucose levels, and satisfy your hunger between meals. However, not everyone living with diabetes needs to have snacks to help manage their diabetes.

If your doctor has prescribed blood glucose lowering oral medications (eg. diamicron) or insulin, you may need to eat a carbohydrate-based snack between meals and/or before going to bed to prevent low blood glucose levels (hypoglycaemia or a hypo). Talk to your Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) or Credentialled Diabetes Educator (CDE) about whether you need to include snacks in your diabetes management plan.

What type of snack should I choose?

Try to choose snacks that include foods from the five core food groups – wholegrains, vegetables and legumes, fruit, reduced fat dairy foods and alternatives, and lean meats and alternatives. By doing this you are giving your body the fibre, vitamins, minerals and energy nutrients (carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats) needed to stay strong and healthy.

Should my snack contain carbohydrates?

The amount of carbohydrate you need each day depends on your age, gender, weight and activity levels. Talk to your dietitian about your individual needs.

If you need snacks to prevent hypoglycaemia, aim for 1-2 carbohydrate Exch per snack (that is 15-30g of carbohydrate). However the most sensitive way to know what your body needs for stable and healthy blood glucose levels, is to monitor your blood glucose for a period of time and track around your eating pattern.

Snacks that are high in essential nutrients ie fibre, vitamins and minerals but low in carbohydrate (0- ½ Exch or <7.5g carbohydrate per snack) are healthier choices for people living with diabetes experiencing hyperglycemia (high blood glucose levels).

What snacks should I limit?

Warming discretionary or ‘occasional’ snack foods are usually high in added sugars, saturated fats and/or salt such as pies, pastries, hot chocolates, cakes, slices, muffins, deep-fried foods, fast-food and convenience meals that include cream or cheese-based  sauces and fillings. These foods fill us up and are enjoyable. However if over-consumed these foods and drinks can lead to eating less of the healthier foods from the five core food groups (foods which bring in all the fibres, vitamins, minerals etc essential to a healthy body and mind) leaving you feeling tired,  malnourished and possibly constipated.

Are homemade baked snacks healthier than shop-bought baked snacks?

Homemade baked snacks can be healthier choices but may be high in energy (kilojoules). Enjoy but be mindful of the amounts you eat as these snacks are considered ‘occasional’ snacks.

Cakes, biscuits, muffins and slices baked at home can be made healthier by:

  • Using olive or canola or rice bran or grapeseed or sunflower margarines or oils instead of butter
  • Using less added sugar and or replacing with fruit ie. sultanas or bananas
  • Swapping plain refined white flours for wholemeal flour and or oats
  • Adding nuts and seeds for extra flavour, texture and fibres

Warming winter snack ideas – 1 to 2 carbohydrate exchanges (equal to 15-30g carbohydrate)

  • 1 x baked apple or pear sprinkled with cinnamon – 1 x medium size (150g) = 1 Exchange /15g carbohydrate
  • 1 x steamed cob of corn – 1 x medium size (150g) = 1.5 Exchanges / 19g carbohydrate
  • 1 x 130g can of baked beans – 1 x Exchange / 18g carbohydrate
  • 1 x medium size (300ml) cappuccino / latte / flat white with low fat milk or soy milk = 1 Exchange / 14g carbohydrate
  • 1 x regular cut slice of dense grainy / seeded bread toasted = 1 x Exchange / 15g carbohydrate – topped with:
    • ¼ fresh avocado
    • 1 x boiled or poached egg
    • ½ 130g tin baked beans (add ½ Exchange / 9g carbohydrate)
  • 1 x regular cut slice of wholemeal raisin toast = 1 x 30g slice is 1 Exchange / 17.5g carbohydrate
    • Low fat ricotta or cottage cheese
    • 1 tablespoon 100% nut butter
  • 1 x Tip Top multigrain English muffin grilled with 1 x slice of low fat cheese and tomato slices = 1 x muffin (67g) = 1 x Exchange / 17g carbohydrate
  • 1 x Mission wholemeal pita pocket toasted = 1 x 43g pita bread = 1.5 Exchange / 20g carbohydrate, fill with:
    • Grated carrot, boiled egg & hommus
    • Grilled eggplant, zucchini & capsicum slices + sprinkle of feta
    • Ricotta, avocado & sliced radish
    • 1 tablespoon peanut butter, sliced fresh strawberries & ½ banana (add ½ Exchange / 10g carbohydrate)
  • 1 x Spelt, Barley or Chia Mountain Bread folded and toasted with slices of fresh tomato, 20g reduced fat grated mozzarella, and basil leaves = 1 x Exchange / 14g carbohydrate
  • 1 x Wholemeal crumpet topped with 1 teaspoon 100% nut butter = 1.5 Exchange / 20g carbohydrate
  • Porridge made up from 1/3 cup traditional rolled oats, water, and a dash of milk, plus sprinkle of cinnamon & nutmeg = 1.5 Exchange / 25g carbohydrate
  • 1 cup of vegetable soup, homemade, or shelf: (Heinz Classic, Campbell’s Country Ladle, La Zuppa range), or refrigerated: (Pintango range), or Instant: (La Zuppa Just Add Water range) – check label for carbohydrate content per serve.


Warming winter snack ideas – 0 to ½ carbohydrate exchange (equal to 0-11g carbohydrate)

  • 1 x hard-boiled egg – 0 Exchange /0.5g carbohydrate
  • 2 x cup of air-popped popcorn sprinkled with paprika – ½ Exchange / 9g carbohydrate
  • Cup of black / oolong / green / herbal tea (no sugar added) – 0 Exchange / 0g carbohydrate
  • 1 x individual serve bag of SteamFresh vegetables – carbohydrate will vary depending on the mix of vegetables – sprinkle with dried herb / spice mix
  • 100g steamed Edamame (soy beans) – ½ Exchange / 10g carbohydrate
  • 30g dry roasted or raw, no salt nuts and or seed mix – ½ Exchange/ 1 – 7.5g carbohydrate


Hopefully these snack ideas will give you inspiration for even the coldest of days!


For more on healthier snack or meal ideas call our Helpline to speak with a dietitian on 1300 342 238.


Kate Battocchio, APD

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