Snacks. Snacking. Snaccident (accidentally eating more food than was originally intended). These words have acquired a nuance of negativity – as if munching between meals were something to be avoided. But rather than a lack of willpower that inevitably leads weight gain and tooth decay, smart snacking can be good for you and help you manage your weight- IF you’re making the right choices.
Knowing what foods and drinks to choose (and why) allows you to plan and be organised – so you’re not tempted to making unhealthy choices that you’ll regret later. Here are some of my all-time favourite recommendations.
1. Yogurt & Berries
Plain, unsweetened cultured yogurts offer a good source of protein and are very satisfying. Choose a brand that does not contain added sugar and aim for organic, especially if you are choosing a dairy variety. Compared to other fruits, berries are lower in natural sugars and won’t have a drastic impact on your blood sugar levels. Berries are also a great source of antioxidants that help the body recover from stress and exercise. Perfect after a workout!
2. Green Smoothie
The great thing about green smoothies is that there are so many different ingredients and combinations you can use. Aim for a good green base – spinach is easiest to use as it has a delicate, mild flavour. Kale is another good option but has a stronger taste. Herbs provide an additional green boost – parsley and coriander both work well, but don’t overdo it as they can be over powering. Banana makes the smoothie creamy and adds sweetness. Apples and pears are also great. Lemon works well to cut the grassy greens. Your base can be filtered water, coconut water or any non-dairy milk – unsweetened almond milk is my favourite. You can superpower your smoothie with superfoods; flaxseeds, hemp protein powder, maca powder and chia seeds are all great, plus chlorella or spirulina for an extra immune boost!
3. Almond Butter on Celery
There are so many things to love about almond butter. Not only sweet and luscious, it’s high in nutrients such as vitamin E and other protective antioxidants. There is a common misconception about nuts and weight gain. Since nuts, such as almonds, are high in calories, many people who are watching their weight tend to avoid them. However, almonds are high in protein, fiber, and monounsaturated fats – all of which help keep you feeling fuller longer. Studies show that people who eat nuts are less likely to become overweight than those who avoid them. Simply smear almond butter over fresh celery sticks – fits perfectly inside the crevice!
4. Crudités and hummus
Fresh, raw vegetables provide loads of nutrients and vitamins, plus complex carbs and fiber to help fill you up. Hummus adds some protein and healthy fats to increase staying power and its creamy texture blends well with the cool crunch of raw vegetables. For a sweeter alternative, try hummus with raw apple slices. Hummus is such a nutritious and practical snack it’s a good idea to always keep some handy in the fridge. Enjoy with wholegrain crackers too.
Quick & Easy Hummus
2 cups chickpeas – rinsed well (usually about 1 large jar)
2 tbs tahini
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 2 lemons
1/3 tsp cumin ground powder
2 cloves of garlic
½ tsp Himalayan salt or sea salt
Put all the ingredients into the blender and slowly pulverise until a smooth consistency is reached. You might need stop a few times and scrape down the sides and stir the mixture, add some water if it’s too thick.
Enjoy with gluten free quinoa crackers or raw chopped vegetables. Refrigerate in an air tight container and it will store for up to one week.
Try adding some roasted red peppers and shallots or a handful of coriander, parsley or fresh chilli for a variation.
5. Hummus Burrito
Choose a nice large romaine lettuce leaf. Sometimes you can find bags of individual leaves in the salad section. Fill it with hummus. Top with chopped tomato and onion and tomato. This is a wonderfully satisfying snack that will keep you feeling light. Make several and share with friends!
6. Paprika Eggs
A hard-boiled egg makes a convenient, transportable snack. Filled with high quality protein, iron and B vitamins, it’s highly nutritious – but perhaps little bland. Keep your taste buds happy by adding a pinch of paprika and sea salt. Always buy free range, organic eggs as they have more immune-boosting nutrients such as omega 3 fatty acids and beta-carotene (and come from happier chickens!).
7. Fresh seasonal fruit and non-dairy yogurt
You’ll get a healthy dose of antioxidants from the fruit, along with protein in yogurt, which helps prevent inflammatory blood sugar spikes. Sheep and goats’ yogurt is preferable to yogurt made from cow’s milk as it is less allergenic, purer and easier to digest. Soy and almond options are good options too.
8. Organic yogurt with a handful of crumbled walnuts
A crunchy and creamy treat that’s rich in healthy omega 3 fatty acids, as well as energy-boosting nutrients. Substitute seeds like sunflower, sesame and chia if nuts are problematic.
9. Pumpkin Seeds
With magnesium, zinc, and essential fatty acids – pumpkin seeds are a great snack for boosting energy levels as well as getting the nutrients you need to relax when it’s bedtime. These are great for keeping in your purse when you’re strapped for time!
10. Banana & Chia pudding
They may be small, but they pack a powerful nutritional punch. Chia seeds are truly super because they deliver a huge amount of nutritional benefit for very few calories. They are similar in many ways to flax but you don’t have to grind them to get all their health promoting benefits. When added to liquid they swell up and become almost like a rice pudding and take on the flavour the other ingredients. Try other variations of chia pudding and use fruit juice instead of milk (pomegranate works well) and mango instead of banana. Add in nuts, seeds and dried fruit to find your own clever combinations with the flavours that you love. Make this in advance and enjoy later!
1 cup non dairy milk (I prefer unsweetened almond milk)
1 small ripe banana
1 tsp vanilla
2 medjool dates
3 tbs chia seeds
a few walnuts (optional)
dash Himalayan salt
Blend the milk, banana, vanilla and Medjool dates together until well combined. Add the chia seeds and mix well, transfer to bowls & cover or Tupperware and refrigerate overnight.
So, there you have it -some simple, healthy snacks to stabilize blood sugar levels and keep you feeling full and happy. What’s your favourite?