Our lives are always on the go. It seems sometimes that we do not have enough time to eat the way we would like. It is tempting to stop at the fast food restaurant to grab a quick meal or snack with our busy lifestyles. When our lives are hectic it is even more important to choose healthy foods. You need the right kind of fuel to keep you going and keep you at your highest potential throughout the day. Do you still feel hungry after eating three meals a day? Healthy snacks are your answer! Snacking healthy may give you the extra push to hold you over to your next meal. Be sure to not go for the snickers bar! Nutritious snacks give you energy and help keep your mind alert.
Be sure you are drinking enough water throughout the day; you may actually be thirsty, not hungry. Right when you get up in the morning drink a glass of water, and right before you go to bed drink a glass. Believe it or not back in college I would only drink 2-3 cups of water a day, because I just didn’t think about drinking water, except at meals. Now I drink at least 8 cups a day and I can feel the difference, especially late at night when food craving set in. I do not have those craving at night anymore since I started drinking more water, and my skin even looks better.
To make sure you are a smart snacker, you want to avoid foods that are high in sodium, fat and calories. These foods will give us a temporary boost, but ultimately slow us down, and also may contribute to weight gain.
Here are some tips for smart snacking:
- Focus on complex carbohydrates, like whole grains and combine them with protein packed foods such as natural peanut butter or low-fat cheese.
- If you like granola bars, choose bars with protein over 5 grams per serving and Fiber over 3 grams per serving. Watch out for partially hydrogenated oils and trans fat in the ingredient list of certain bars. I stash my purse with granola bars before I leave the house in the morning. I also keep some granola bars at my desk.
- Beware of snack packages that have low-fat claims. Sometimes sugar is replaced to keep the product tasting good. Sometimes the low-fat packaged foods have the same amount of calories as the regular version.
- Always read the ingredients and nutrition labels before purchasing a snack food. Just because the claim on the front says, all natural, pure, cholesterol free, fat free or is loaded with fortified vitamins and minerals, doesn’t mean it is good for you.
- Make your own granola mix or trail mix, keep fruit on hand. Try chopping up veggies before hand and prepackaging them in little baggies. You can dip these veggies in hummus! Yum! I always keep a box of Kashi whole grain crackers or Kashi whole grain cereal in my car. With my current job, I may have unexpected changes throughout the day. It is nice to have a little snack waiting for me in the car! I can snack on the cereal or crackers on the way to the gym after work to hold me over for dinner.
- Keep your snacks interesting and full of variety so you do not get bored, which can tempt you to steer off in a bad direction! Try air popped popcorn, pretzels with spicy mustard, whole wheat fig bars, prepared fruit or veggies, low-fat cheese, yogurt, frozen berries and place in water or ‘ice cubes,” whole grain pita and hummus and trail mix.
- Remember, everything in moderation. Snacking on one orange is healthy, but snacking on 10 oranges is not necessarily the best choice. This can result in weight gain. Just because the food is good for you, eating a lot of it is not a good idea for a snack.
Here is me sitting at a table we made for our Family Night with the Children’s Hunger Alliance.I prepared three healthy snacks for the parents and children to try at a local middle school where I teach nutrition and fitness classes. The three snacks I made were Tomato Mozzarella Basil Skewers, Fruit Salsa with Whole Wheat Tortilla Chips and Garbanzo Guacamole on Triscuits.
1) Tomato Mozzarella Basil Skewers
These were a hit with the parents, and also some of the students.
- 40 cherry tomatoes
- 20 Mozzarella cherry balls (I found these in the specialty cheese section at Giant Eagle.)
- Basil Leaves
- Mini Skewers-20
String tomato on first, then Mozzarella ball, then basil leaf then another tomato. Once all assembled drizzle olive oil over and fresh cracked pepper.
2) Fruit Salsa with Whole Wheat Tortilla Chips
The kids LOVED this snack!
- 4 kiwis, peeled and diced
- 2 Golden Delicious apples – peeled, cored and diced
- 8 ounces raspberries-diced
- 1 pound strawberries-diced
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons fruit preserves, any flavor
- 10 (6 inch) whole wheat flour tortillas
- butter flavored cooking spray
- 2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar
- In a large bowl, thoroughly mix kiwis, Golden Delicious apples, raspberries, strawberries, brown sugar and fruit preserves. Cover and chill in the refrigerator at least 15 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
- Coat one side of each flour tortilla with butter flavored cooking spray. Cut into wedges and arrange in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Sprinkle wedges with cinnamon sugar. Spray again with cooking spray.
- Bake in the preheated oven 8 to 10 minutes. Repeat with any remaining tortilla wedges. Allow to cool approximately 15 minutes. Serve with chilled fruit mixture.
3) Garbanzo Guacamole on Triscuits.
- 1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 garlic clove crushed
- 1/2 medium sweet or red onion chopped
- 1 avocado, peeled and chopped
- 1 medium tomato chopped
- 1/4 cup scallions
Place garbanzo beans, lemon juice and garlic in a food processor. Add avocado and process again until well combined. Empty into a bowl and add tomato, onions and scallions. Mix well. Serve on Triscuits.