Snacks, they can be the most neglected aspect of meal planning, and thus can be the area most likely to sabotage your healthy eating efforts. Just look at the common workplace vending machine, party appetizer spread or gas station pantry (and we would rather you didn’t) and it is no wonder why “snacking” gets a bad rap.
This month I want to share with you some great ideas to inspire your snacking to new levels of health. To be worthwhile, a snack is supposed to provide a nourishing boost of energy to carry you to the next meal and keep your metabolism running strong all day long.
A healthy snack is a balanced mini-meal containing carbohydrates, protein and fat. So, what is your little Ziplock baggie of carrot sticks and celery missing (besides being totally uninventive?) Fat and protein! Raw vegetables are an excellent way to boost your enzyme and fiber count for the day, just be sure to have a few homemade dressing recipes on file and/or dips to include with it. One of my favorite ways to spruce up a crudités plate is with tahini dressing. Most health food stores have it or you can make it yourself—1 onion, 1 stalk celery, 2 TBS fermented soy sauce, juice of 2 lemons, ½ cup tahini, 4TBS olive oil, 1TBS flax oil. Blend it in a food processer and add water to make it the desired consistency. Add some of this good stuff and you’ve just included great fat and protein into your snack.
Below are some other snack ideas, and some tips about how to make them better.
Typical Snack: Apple.
Snack Make Over: Apple dipped in raw nut butter and drizzled with raw honey. An apple is almost the perfect fruit. It has enough fiber to blunt the effect of fructose on your blood sugar, plus, adding protein and fat in the form of nut butter and some raw honey to kill any sweet craving!
Typical Snack: Yogurt smoothie with whey protein and berries. Seems good. It is! Here are ways to make it better!
Snack Make Over: Plain yogurt, serving of whey protein, 1 TBS of coconut oil, handful of raw almonds or macadamia nuts, scoop of green powder, berries and maple syrup or raw honey. This embellished snack will now provide more than just protein and carbs, but lots of great healthy fat from the nuts and lauric acid from the coconut oil (an oil that boosts metabolism!), is a tasty way to sneak in your greens as well!
Typical Snack: Package of string cheese.
Snack Make Over: Contains 6 grams of protein and a little bit of fat (remember, this is a good thing!) but, it is void of significant carbohydrates and because we are striving for balance, try this instead: A slice of raw cheddar cheese folded into a piece of Ezekiel sprouted grain pita,dipped in organic hummus.
Typical Snack: Power bar/cliff bar/luna bar/zone bar etc…
Snack Make Over: Ditch the soy and sugar filled bars—which are really just candy bars disguised as “health food”. Note sugar is disguised on labels as anything ending in “ose” but also includes things like evaporated cane juice, corn syrup, maltodextrin, and don’t even get me started on Aspartame), Instead, go for a Lara bar or something similar with simple and pronounceable ingredients. Our favorites are Garden of Life’s Fuco protein bar. Or better yet, make your own! Here’s a recipe and a picture of Carob Chews from Sally Fallon’s book Nourishing Traditions
1/2 cup raw carob (I like to use cocoa powder)
½ cup raw honey
1 TBS vanilla
1 TSP sea salt
Mix the above until melted
Add melted mixture to:
1 cup ground up crispy almonds
1 cup ground up crispy cashews
1 cup coconut meat
In a food processor, pulse the above a few times until blended.
Press onto a cookie sheet lined with buttered parchment paper and refrigerate for several hours. Cut into small squares and store in an airtight container. Delicious!
Typical Snack: Bag of potato chips
Snack Make Over: Don’t you wish I would simply say “organic potato chips”? J Nope! There is not much that a bag of fried potatoes is going to do for you in terms of adding to your health. Swap it out for a hard-boiled egg and some kale chips for a tasty, salty crunch. Or try my favorite—pop your own organic popcorn in coconut oil, add melted butter, sea salt and brewer’s yeast and tackle that salty crunchy craving with tons of amino acids and and B vitamins.
Typical Snack: Trail mix: Salted and roasted nuts with a sprinkling of raisins, (usually coated in canola oil for shine), M&M’s for a splash of color (compliments of the food dyes made from coal tar), and so on.
Snack Make Over: Make your own trail mix using quality, raw nuts made crispy style. Ditch the oily raisins and go for dried unsweetened cherries, blueberries or currants. Dice up some unsulfured apricots to take care of your sweet tooth and throw in a small amount of cocoa nibs, organic chocolate chips, or chopped, dried dates. Basically, just raid the bulk section of your local health food store for a custom blend of things you like!
Typical snack: Starbucks afternoon “I am desperate for a boost” coffee-run.
We have all been there, and temptations may be just as hard to overcome as the disaster of a sugar crash later, but don’t put that Starbucks card away so fast.
Snack Make Over: Green tea (iced or hot) and one of their fruit, nut and cheese/protein snack plates. Also, the Vivanno smoothie uses milk, a banana and whey protein, not a bad option in a bind!
In Summary: Snacking can also provide an opportunity to consume “super foods.” While super foods may not provide as much balance in terms of macronutrients (carbs protein and fat) as the ideas listed above, nor do they provide much in the way of calories, they are nutrient dense and are a superior source of anti-oxidants and the essential nutrients – nutrients we need but cannot make ourselves.
Examples of super foods include:
- Bee super foods such as bee pollen, propylis, and royal jelly.
- Green super foods such as shots of wheat grass, drops of chlorophyll, or scoops of spiriulina and blue green alge
- In addition to green super foods I must mention the power of sea vegetables. They offer loads of vitamin C; help to alkalize the blood and shed excess weight by directly providing much needed iodine for the thyroid. Add them to soups, sprinkle crumbles on salads, or take them in pill form for something easy!
- Lastly your fruit and nut super foods include goji berries, acai berries, noni berries, coconut (as well as coconut oil) and everyone’s favorite, raw cocoa (be sure it is raw in order to insure all of the heat sensitive nutrients have not been destroyed).
In Short: If you come to think of a snack as something that nourishes you rather than just something to kill a hunger pang, you are starting to get it. I hope you found some good ideas above! Happy Snacking!
Here’s to your health,