Whether you believe that snacks are a nutritional necessity or an evil temptation, the truth is that not many of us live a snack-free life. Personally, I plan 2-3 snacks into my day…and the key word there is plan. I find that having a plan and always (I mean ALWAYS) having a healthful snack option nearby keeps me from caving into less healthy temptations on a routine basis.
When I’m hungry for a snack, it’s not always for the same thing, so having a variety of cold and hot, creamy and crunchy, sweet and savory options on hand lets me feed my body what it’s asking for…instead of always trying to make a packaged nutrition bar work. When what you are craving is cold and creamy…trust me…no nutrition bar is going to do the trick.
So here are a few tips on planning for snacks and also some of my favorite snack ideas.
1) Keep snacks in the places you most often are – your home, your purse or briefcase, the office, and even the car! This way you are never in a situation where you find yourself hungry and pulling into a CVS for that bag of Twizzlers…or Doritos…or whatever it is you fall for when you fall off the wagon.
2) Have healthful snacks prepped and stored at eye level in the fridge and the pantry so they are the first thing you see when you open the door.
3) Buy snacks when you buy your meal ingredients – build them into your grocery list for the week and make sure there are enough to last until the next grocery trip.
4) Portion snacks into small resealable bags so you have built in portion control. Mindless eating from an open box can quickly turn a snack into a meal-sized indulgence, so pre-empt this problem with a little advance legwork.
So…now that you have a few ideas for how to manage the snacks, what are some great options to keep on hand? Here are a few of my favorites…but as always, let your taste preferences be your guide.
1) Hummus with red peppers or baked pita crisps – you can buy pita crisps or make your own by brushing pita bread with a little olive oil, sprinkling with salt and pepper and oregano, cutting into triangles, and baking in a 400 degree oven for 8 minutes on each side. Yum.
2) Greek yogurt and a Granny Smith Apple – I buy the plain nonfat yogurt and flavor it by adding a dash of cinnamon, a little stevia sweetener (like Truvia or Pure Via), and a touch of vanilla extract. This keeps the sugar contact down and has a delicious fresh natural flavor.
3) Nonfat cottage cheese with red grapes – There is something wonderful about the contrast of the sweet red grapes and the slightly salty, creamy cottage cheese.
4) Roasted almonds and dried tart cherries – Another variation of the sweet/salty combination and I like how the chewy cherries pair with the crunchy almonds.
5) String cheese and cut raw vegetables – Highly portable for on-the-run snacking occasions. Try red and yellow peppers, radishes, snap peas or asparagus for variations on the ubiquitous carrots and celery.
6) Cracked Pepper and Olive Oil Triscuits with thinly sliced Havarti or fresh mozzarella and sliced grape tomatoes – maybe add a sliver of basil? Awesome.
7) Single serve containers of Healthy Choice Soups – so easy to keep in your desk for when what you really want is a warm, savory, mini-meal in the middle of the afternoon.
Enjoying healthful snacks as a bridge between meals is something that really works for me and for many of my clients. Have fun experimenting with ideas of your own – and share some of your favorites here as comments if you’d like!