This last month has been a challenge for many to say the least. With the pandemic comes stress and often with stress, comes eating. Not only is stress a factor in what we are putting into our mouth, but being constantly surrounded by food is a whole other issue. I am a firm believer that is it is not always about will power, it is about your environment. Although we may not always be able to control our surroundings, we can at least attempt to control more by keeping healthier options in the house. Not all snacking is bad. Junk food has given snacking a bad rap. The important thing is what you are eating as your snack as well as being mindful of what your body is telling you. Instead of just eating to eat, listen to your body and practice mindfulness as often as possible.
However, by incorporating healthy, nutrient dense snacks into your diet, you will be able feel full longer and eat less. Whether snacking to support your metabolism or snacking before or after a workout, below are a few helpful hints to get you snacking smarter!
- Fruit. Fruit is a great snack. Instead of reaching for a bag of chips or candy bar, grab a piece of fruit. Apples, clementine’s, berries and bananas are great choices. Not only do they provide you with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, but are also excellent sources of fiber.
- Nut butter on Crackers. Natural nut butter and whole grain crackers makes a great snack. Nut butters are a healthy source of fat good for your heart and brain. This snack will help you stay full and hold you over before your next meal.
- Nuts and Seeds. Nuts and seeds are full of fiber, healthy fats and rich in other vitamins and minerals. This makes for a healthy, tasty snack. Try walnuts, peanuts, soy nuts, almonds, cashews, pepitas, sunflower seeds and hemp seeds. Remember that a serving size equals the palm of your hand.
- Trail Mix/Granola. This is an excellent snack! By adding a variety of nuts, seeds and dried fruits, you can make a great trail mix to your liking as an excellent source of fiber as well as vitamins and minerals. Granola can be delicious and not always loaded with sugar. Make it yourself and have all the control! See recipe below.
- Cut veggies and hummus plate. Prepare your favorite veggies such as celery, carrots, tomatoes, and broccoli so that when you feel hungry you can grab pre-cut veggies instead of chips! Try dipping them in hummus or organizing on a plate with almonds, olives and crackers.
- Yogurt. Add fresh fruit, nuts, chia seeds or low sugar granola for an extra boost of nutrients and crunch. Stay away from yogurt with more than 15g sugar/serving. Enjoy plain yogurt with a tsp of honey or stevia. Try Greek Yogurt which can add up to 20g protein per cup. Many options for dairy intolerance like cashew, almond and coconut milk yogurts.
- Popcorn. Popcorn can be a healthy snack! For the best option, air pop it yourself in a pot with coconut oil or a small amount of grass-fed butter or ghee is a great option to add some healthy fats! This can be a much better choice than chips or candy! Add a little nutritional yeast for an extra B6 and B12 punch and with a cheesy flavor!
- Whole Grain Rice Cake with Peanut butter, Banana and hemp seeds. This snack will help you stay full with all the fiber, healthy fat and protein peanut butter, bananas and whole grains have to offer. Make sure you choose natural nut butter. It is delicious!
- Cottage cheese with fruit and ground flax. Choose cottage cheese to get some extra calcium in your diet. Be creative and add fruit, veggies, nuts or ground flax! Try cottage cheese also with a sprinkle of stevia or monk fruit and dollop of whipped cream–Tastes like rice pudding!
- Black bean and corn salsa with tortilla chips. This tasty snack is full of antioxidants that help fight cancer and other diseases as well as slow down the aging process. We love the Siete Grain Free Tortilla Chips or you can use non-GMO organic corn tortillas! It is also an excellent source of fiber! Recipe is below!
- Dark Chocolate. Enjoy a small piece of at least 70% cacao if you are needing to curb a craving. Dark chocolate does offer some healthy benefits including antioxidants, Magnesium and fiber. Do mind your portions and try to read labels for minimal ingredients. Remember, less is more! Our favorite is Alter Eco Blackout Chocolate Bar!
- Cheese with whole-grain crackers. For those that can tolerate cheese, it is a good source of calcium and protein! Opt for organic cheese when possible. Try a variety of whole grain crackers for more fiber benefits. Or some great gluten free options include Simple Mills Almond Flour Crackers, plain rice crackers or if you are feeling adventurous, try making your own! We love this Keto Cracker recipe! If you do not tolerate dairy well or do not eat by preference, there are plenty of options for you too! We love Treeline cashew cheese, Miyoko’s and Violife! All great dairy free options. And there is always the option to make your own. We are a big fan of Full of Plants Hickory Smoke Vegan Cashew Cheese!
- Bars. Not all are healthy, but some can be really helpful to have on hand! Aim for bars made with whole grain products as the first ingredient, contain at least 10g of protein, 5g or less sugar and 3g or more fiber! Check out some of our top picks here!
Now how does that sound! Snacks can still taste good without all the added junk. By choosing these items for snacks, you will find yourself cutting back on portions in general because you feel fuller.
It is not about how much FAT, it is about type of fat!
It is important to watch the type fat in the snacks you eat. When choosing snacks, you want to be most careful of the trans fat content. Trans fat is the main fat in many snack and commercial foods. It is an artificial fat that is made to extend shelf life. In addition, many easily damaged and oxidized oils are used in packaged snacks. Try to avoid or eliminate foods that contain these ingredients and oils:
- Partially or fully hydrogenated oils
- Hydrogenated oil
- Safflower/Sunflower and Vegetable oil
Fiber and Sugar
Fiber-rich foods , bulk up in your stomach, and help you feel fuller after a meal. This means fewer cravings for snacks during the day. Choose snacks that contain more fiber and less sugar to help you reach early satiety and to meet your daily dietary fiber needs. Also, not only does fiber keep us full, but it also is good for our gut. Specific fibers we get from many foods including, nuts, seeds, fruit and whole grains serve as food (known as prebiotics) for the probiotic (good bacteria in our gut) to keep us healthy and support our immune system and overall health. Many snack foods are loaded with sneaky forms of sugar, so be aware of your ingredients. Anything that ends with the word -ose means sugar. In addition, every 4g of sugar is equal to 1 tsp of sugar. That can add up quick! The goal is to limit added sugar intake to no more than 6-8tsp daily. The average American consumes about 130 lbs of sugar per year, that is roughly 1/3 lb per day!!! So be mindful of your choices. Some good sources of fiber for snacks include:
- Fruit and vegetables
- Bran and whole grain cereals
- Nuts and grains
- Trail Mixes
Generally speaking, adults need a minimum of 25-35 grams of fiber a day. In some cases it is recommended to include up to 50g daily! Most Americans, including children, do not consume nearly enough. Keep in mind it is also important to increase your fiber intake slowly to prevent stomach irritation and to increase water consumption to prevent constipation!
A goal without a plan is wishful thinking! Plan Ahead
Instead of grazing all day, think ahead and prepare your snacks before the day begins. By planning ahead, you will save time, money and empty calories. Use these tips when preparing your snacks:
- Plan snacks as part of the day’s food plan
- Eat snacks at the same time each day such as midmorning and midday
- Pre cut veggies or measure trail mix/nuts and place in individual bags so that they are ready and convenient to grab
- Try to eat snacks that include at least two different food groups. This helps to keep you full and satisfied and ensure balance.
A few favorite snacks to prepare ahead of time!
Black Bean and Corn Salsa
1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 11-oz can non-GMO corn, drained and rinsed
1 red pepper, chopped
1 orange pepper, chopped
1 yellow pepper, chopped
¼ cup red onion, chopped
1 T fresh lime juice
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
3 T red wine vinegar
3 T extra virgin olive oil
3 T Fresh Cilantro, chopped
Combine ingredients in large mixing bowl. Serve with tortilla chips or over top grilled chicken, pork, fish, baked potato or a salad! Is excellent wrapped in a tortilla with hummus too!
Serving Size ¼ cup
Calories 50 Fat 2g Carbohydrate 7g Fiber 2g Protein 2g Sodium 50mg
Heart-Healthy Trail Mix
2 cup whole almonds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup raw cashews
½ cup dried cranberries or other fruit of choice
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (optional)
2-3 T ground flaxseed
1/2 cup pepitas
Mix ingredients together in large bowl and serve.
Feel free to be creative and substitute different nuts or fruit to satisfy your taste buds!
Serving size ¼ cup.
Coconut Almond Granola
3/4 cup almond flour
3/4 cup coconut flour
4 cups slivered almonds
1 cup pepitas
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup walnuts
3 cups shredded, unsweetened coconut
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 cup dried blueberries
1 tsp sea salt (optional)
1 cup unrefined organic coconut oil, heated
1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
3 tsp pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
Combine dry ingredients in large bowl and mix. Whisk together wet ingredients and add to dry ingredients mixing to coat. Spread granola on two individual baking sheets. Place in oven for 60 minutes. Remove and enjoy as a snack, on yogurt or with milk.
**You can use all almond flour or all coconut flour.
Serving size 1/4 cup (yields approximately 50)
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