Before you reach for the chippies, chocolates or energy drinks try these energy boosting snack ideas that will keep you going to the next main meal.
Steering clear of simple carbohydrates is the key to healthy snacking. Low fibre, easily digested carbs found in refined grains (biscuits, breakfast cereals and breads) tend to raise your blood sugar, which can leave you hungry again in a few hours.
I have to admit, I used to be a big snacker…in fact I would happily graze all day missing lunch completely before I got organised and serious about good nutrition, by taking control of my main meals and overall diet. I am amazed at how much more energy I have now. Besides, flaking out at 4.00pm is simply not an option now that I have small children!
The trick to healthy snacking is to ensure it’s not too much food to interfere with your appetite for that next main meal. Digestion is a four-hour process and if you’re not getting hungry in between meals your gastro intestinal system is not going to turn on the right hormones to process the food you are eating, leading to digestive issues and weight gain.
So if you have lunch at 12.00pm but are planning dinner with friends at 7.00 or 8.00pm, you might need a snack to get you through at about 4.00pm.
There are endless choices for snacks – and most packaged ones should be avoided. They usually contain vegetable oils, sugar (in all it’s many forms) and salt. A much wiser choice would be something fresh like fruit, vegetable sticks or whole foods with little processing, and look for a balance of the healthiest sources of fats, carbs, and protein. For example:
- Natural or Greek-style yoghurt with a sprinkling of grain-free granola – or just fresh berries and nuts
- 35g of a home made trail mix, I add my favourite nuts like cashews, pecans, walnuts and almonds, a small amount of dried fruit like goji berries, apricots, dates and cherries, flaked coconut and pepitas – you can even add a piece of low sugar dark chocolate (see Pana Chocolate brand)
- A small portion of hummus or home made pesto dip – about 1/4 cup is enough for a snack – and have with it broccoli florets, baby carrots and cucumbers and cherry tomatoes
- An apple sliced, served on a small plate with 1 Tbsp almond butter slathered on the edges
- A banana sliced length ways with 1 Tbsp natural peanut butter spread on and sandwiched back together
- Your choice of cheese (just a small wedge), a piece of pear and some raisins (like a mini cheese platter for one – this is my personal all time favourite snack
- A small fruit with a sprinkling of grain-free granola or a garden salad (think a cup full or 250ml), shaved Parmesan and a dash of good quality olive oil will definitely keep you going until that 8.00pm dinner scenario.
There is no need to deny yourself a little snack here and there. But if you find yourself zombified at 3.30pm everyday, it might be time to reassess what you are eating for breakfast and lunch on a regular basis. Is there a good balance of carbs, protein and fats for your body and brain? You are an individual, only you will know what is right for you.
Basil Pesto Dip Recipe
Place a bunch of basil (leaves and small stems only),
- 1/4 cup pine nuts,
- 1/4 cup cashews,
- 30g Parmesan cheese (cut into small pieces),
- 30ml good quality extra virgin olive oil and
- 1 small clove of garlic
In a food processor and process until combined.
Place dip in a bowl and serve with broccoli florets, sliced capsicum ‘scoops’ baby carrots, cucumbers and cherry tomatoes
What are your favourite snacks? Don’t miss out on the things you love – that’s no fun! Take a step back (when you’re not starving at 3.00pm and dreaming of chocolate cake) and see if you can ‘healthify’ your favourite snack food. Let me know in the comments below what you crave, and I’ll answer with some ideas on how to make it healthier for you.