To snack or not to snack – that is the question!

“To have a mere bite or morsel or eat a light meal.” This is the definition of a snack and was first recorded in 1807.

However over time, the way in which we snack has changed and the term is now often associated with poor dietary habits. When we say ‘snack’ we often think of ducking out of the office to the nearest coffee shop for a muffin or (but sometimes its AND!) a full fat milk latte.

Food manufacturers have jumped on the band wagon and ‘helped’ us out with handy snacks. Unfortunately these generally come laden with sugars or other junk carbs. A general rule of thumb is if it’s covered in a plastic wrapper it’s not going to be great for us. (Not always true of course!)

So let’s define some snacking guidelines, some simple snacks and leave you with some ideas to titillate the taste buds when you have a little more time to prepare some for your week.

Guideline #1: Our bodies were designed to take in smaller amounts of food several times a day and NOT bloat ourselves out during three major feeding frenzies (commonly known as meals). So – overall, reduce your portion size at main meals and introduce a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack.

Guideline #2: Snacks should be high in protein and low in simple, white or processed carbs.

Guideline #3: If you can introduce flavor into your snack via herbs and spices to make them interesting this will satisfy your taste buds and tummy better than a bland snack.

Guidelines #4: Snacks should be smaller than a main meal – typically 5-10 bites of something or a cup (if you were to measure it out).

Simple Snack Ideas

Snacks, by their very definition need to be simple and convenient to produce and carry around. Here are a few ideas:

  • A boiled egg topped with curry powder or ground turmeric. Boil several eggs at the start of the week and store within the fridge in their shells until they are needed.
  • 6-12 raw, unsalted almonds, walnuts or cashews. Nuts are fantastically healthy BUT beware – they can destroy a weight loss diet given they are so high in fats. See my article Are you Nuts?
  • Celery, carrot or cucumber sticks dipped in humus which has been sprinkled with sweet paprika. When you purchase the humus ensure it’s made from whole natural ingredients such as tahini, chick peas and oil – better still make fresh in a Thermomix. Don’t get the cheap varieties made with mayonnaise.
  • A small tin of tuna can also make a protein rich snack. There is lots of scare mongering about regular cans of tuna and to some extent some of this can be true – if this bothers you then try the organic kind which are sustainably caught, pinker and fuller in flavor. However, compared to stuffing your face with a muffin even the regular tinned variety has to be better so just go with this if you have no other option. (Getting healthy is all about degrees of improvement – don’t aim for GOLD standard if this will just make you fail – make change by degrees)

Lastly – here is a longer list of fabulous, healthy, tasty ideas. I KNOW these cannot all be produced quickly and require effort so are not likely to be as useful on a daily basis. BUT perhaps try one of these out every week to find your favourites and get quicker at making it. Variety is the spice of life!!

Sesame crackers with tuna, hummus or guacamole. Spread granny smith apple wedges with chunky cashew or almond butter and top with toasted sesame seeds.
Mound chopped smoked salmon onto lettuce leaf of cucumber coin and top with dill. 1-2-3 Thai Slaw: Shred carrots; dress lightly with toasted sesame oil, lime juice, olive oil, honey and a dash of cayenne pepper. Toss in chopped peanuts.
Whisk together almond butter, tamari and a few drops of water. Use as an Asian-style dip for baby bok choy. Devilled Eggs: Replace mayo with Greek yogurt to make devilled eggs. Fold a handful of finely chopped watercress and a pinch of seasoning/curry powder into the yolk.
Five-Spice Pumpkin Seeds: Toss pumpkin seeds (also known as pepitas) with sesame oil and Chinese five-spice powder, then bake at 160° until crisp. Stuffed Figs: Split plump dried figs and stuff with toasted hazelnuts.
Turn cucumber slices into crackers: Spread them with olive tapenade and garnish with chopped fresh tarragon. Indian-Spiced Cashews: Toss raw cashews   in coconut oil and curry powder and roast at 70° until golden.
Dunk root veggie chips into      guacamole or hummus. Sushi Stick: Roll up sliced avocado, cucumber spears and brown rice (or Quinoa) in a nori sheet and eat with pickled ginger.
Ants on a Log: Stuff celery sticks with cashew or almond butter and dot with dried currants. Fruit Compote: Choose 1 cup of either blueberries, raspberries, strawberries or apple. Mix 1 cup of fruit with olive oil, cinnamon and a touch of stevia if desired and pan-fry until they’re on the brink of bursting, then gobble up while warm.
Stuff iceberg lettuce leaves with chopped ripe tomatoes and cucumbers and a dollop of hummus. 2 spoonfuls of greek yoghurt and add a mixture of seeds (pepitas, chia, sunflower, sesame etc).

 

 

 

2 Comments

  1. […] with turmeric sprinkled on it and some tuna mid-afternoon missed with chopped almonds. My article on snacking gives you more […]

  2. […] Prepare your own snacks if you are likely to be away from home. Try a boiled egg or can of tuna. (For lots more fun and healthy ideas please read my article on Snacking.) […]

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