To snack or not to snack…that is the question.
Whether or not to snack during the day is actually a question I am often asked and my usual reply is – maybe! Having a snack between meals can be beneficial – if you are hungry or have low energy between meals; if you have diabetes or are making changes to get to a healthy weight; if you have thyroid issues or adrenal fatigue; or if you are simply super hungry by mealtime – but – here’s the clincher – be really picky about the type of snack you choose.
If you have diabetes, small, frequent meals and healthy, low-carb snacks can actually help you maintain better blood sugar levels. Snacking can also help you achieve or maintain a healthy weight because frequent, small meals keep your metabolism humming along during the day – meaning you are burning more calories, no matter what you are doing.
Snacks also reduce your hunger before meals, helping you eat smaller portions. I think we all do the same thing when are super-hungry – when we finally get our hands on some food, we tend to over-eat, sometimes until we are uncomfortably full. I know that when I’m really hungry, the foods that appeal to me the most are high in sugar and fat – like a Snickers bar at the checkout counter in the grocery store or a big slab of toast slathered with butter and jam! For some reason, at those times, carrots and hummus just don’t sound very appealing.
So – snacking can be a good idea for a lot of reasons, but take care to choose snacks that help, rather than harm your health. Here’s my formula for creating healthy snacks:
- Start with a fruit or vegetable
- Add some healthy protein, like beans, tofu, chicken, nuts or seeds, fish or turkey
- If you are physically active, add a little extra carbohydrate, including:
- cooked, whole grains; whole grain bread, crackers, or tortillas
- plain or lightly sweetened yogurt
- or some root vegetables like beets, carrots, sun-chokes or jicama
With that formula in mind, here are a few simple, healthy snack ideas:
- Super Celery with Peanut Butter: Fill celery with peanut butter and top with something that adds a little extra fiber, like chopped nuts, chia seeds, or for a grown up version of ants on a log, top with some chopped dried figs.
- Fruit and Nuts: combine a high-fiber fruit like apples, berries, or pears with a small handful of nuts.
- Mini Bean Tostada: warm a corn tortilla in a dry skillet until soft, slather on some canned or homemade vegetarian refried beans, chopped green cabbage, a little grated cheese and some salsa.
- Raw or steamed veggies with some chicken (maybe leftover from dinner), and a side of pesto instead of Ranch dressing.
These are just a few simple snack ideas. Click the link below for the complete Healthy Snacks for Your Family recipes. You can also make up batches of hummus, bean salads or spiced nuts to snack on during the week. The key is to be prepared. I really find that I choose healthier foods for snacks when they are ready to go in my refrigerator or cupboard and easy to grab when I’m hungry. Otherwise, that Snickers bar starts calling my name!
So here’s a simple spiced nut recipe to try! Watch the video for the demonstration or click on the link below for the complete Spiced Nuts recipe.
Nuts by themselves are a great snack, because they contain a nice mix of fiber, fat, protein and a little carbohydrate plus a boatload of other healthy nutrients and phytochemicals. I like to eat them plain, or just lightly toasted in a dry skillet. But, you can also add spices to boost the flavor and the phyto-nutrients.
Hummus is also very easy to make – it’s traditionally prepared with garbanzo beans, sesame seeds, lemon and garlic, but can be made with other ingredients, including roasted red bell peppers, green chilies, or even different kinds of beans. For something different, I’m going to make a simple hummus with white beans, lemon, avocado, garlic, and a little spice. Click the link below for the complete White Bean Hummus with Avocado recipe.
If you are just now thinking of having a snack, remember to imagine snacks as mini-meals, and use them as an opportunity to nourish your body and maintain lasting energy.
And, now that we have settled that age-old question – to snack or not to snack – I wonder what we’ll make next? Stay tuned, and we’ll see you soon in Your Healthy Kitchen!
Download the Garbanzo Bean Salad Recipe: garbanzo-bean-salad.pdf
Download the Healthy Snacks for Your Family Recipe: healthy-snacks-for-your-family.pdf
Download the Spiced Nuts Recipe: spiced-nuts.pdf
Download the White Bean Hummus with Avocado Recipe: white-bean-hummus-with-avocado.pdf