After my article last week on five healthy lunch ideas, you should now be packing a pretty great brown bag, but what about before and after your lunch (and I am not talking about breakfast and dinner)? You may have been told that it’s best to stick to three square meals a day and to skip the snacks because they can lead to weight gain and excess calories. This is actually not the case. In fact, the more snacks and small meals you have throughout the day, the more energy and calories you will burn. If you don’t keep your metabolism fueled with simple, balanced and healthy snacks, then you may set yourself up to eat more at your next meal or even worse, binge on the wrong kind of foods (i.e. chips, chocolate, cookies). So let’s make sure that this doesn’t happen!
Five tips for smart snacking
1. Choose snacks that are balanced: Look at your snacks as a balance of protein, carbohydrates and fat – an apple with a handful of almonds, brown rice cakes with avocado, carrots with hummus or a handful of trail mix. These are all great, balanced options.
2. Keep your sugars natural: The 3pm slump often begs your body to go for whatever sugary treats are available. Instead, I suggest you keep your blood sugar levels stable by snacking on naturally sweet foods like fruits, dried fruit, or even a square of dark organic chocolate.
3. Stick with complex carbs: They are slow burning and will fuel your energy throughout the whole day so you don’t crash. Unfortunately, donuts and muffins cause fluctuations in your body that will most likely leave you with a headache and craving more carbs. Opt for a healthy home-baked muffin (see recipe below) instead!
4. Drink your snacks: Drinking a fruit juice, pop or iced latte can pack on more calories and sugars than you can imagine. Instead make yourself a delicious green smoothie, or one loaded with pure cocoa (yes chocolate), a banana, almond milk and vegan protein powder for a scrumptious boost of energy and protein.
5. Add some crunch: We all love to crunch whether it’s chips, popcorn or crackers. There are some good options available but nothing is as good as making your own homemade kale chips, or crispy flatbread, which can easily be topped with some white bean dip.
For the sake of convenience, see what’s on my nutritionist-approved packaged snack list. However, if you’re looking to enjoy the most balanced and healthful snacks, it’s ideal to make your own snacks at home. For more snack recipes check out my book, Delicious Snacks For Everyday Enjoyment.
Home-baked apple and cinnamon mini-muffins
1 cup spelt, kamut or oat flour
1/2 cup oats
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup oil (coconut or grapeseed)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup apple sauce
2 apples, seeded and cut into small cubes
1/2 cup rice milk
1/2 cup raisins
1. Measure and combine dry ingredients: flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and sea salt
2. Mix wet ingredients: oil, maple syrup, apple sauce, apples and rice milk.
3. Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well, making sure there are no lumps. Stir in raisins.
4. Spread mixture evenly into a 24 mini-muffin holes tray.
5. Bake for 12 minutes in preheated 350 F oven.
6. Remove from oven, let sit for a few minutes then remove and cool muffins on cooling rack or tray.
To make 12 full size muffins, bake for 24 minutes.
Marni Wasserman is a culinary nutritionist in Toronto whose philosophy is stemmed around whole foods. She is dedicated to providing balanced lifestyle choices through natural foods. Using passion and experience, she strives to educate individuals on how everyday eating can be simple and delicious.