How To Make Smart Snack Choices
It's 3pm, and you've been snack-attacked at work. Your energy is down, and those potato chips in your desk drawer seem to be a perfect idea at the moment. We've all be there.
Our problem with snacks is that very rarely do they solve the intended purpose. Snacks are meant to be a quick and easy way to give yourself an energy boost intermittent to meals. However, instead, snacks are often just sugar-bombs and fat-laden and are filled with anything but nutrients. Let's change that.
First, you’ll want to make sure you have healthy options available. So, toss those potato chips and chocolate bars from your desk drawer and replace them with some of these options:
For the sweet tooth moments
Fruits are an ultimate way of satisfying a sweet craving while getting in some essential nutrients at the same time. Don't think artificial sugars, think fructose. On a hot day, try half a frozen banana to give your fruits a gelato-feel. My personal favorite is frozen grapes. They are easy to grab on that go and freezing the fruit exemplifies its juicy taste. If not, a box of raisins or 4 oz of unsweetened applesauce sprinkled with cinnamon are equally delicious for a mid-day treat.
... And those salt cravings
Salt cravings are something I always get — the food I cook for myself rarely has the sodium content that I need and at points during the week, I always feel like I need a little more of a salt boost. This is normal! What's important is know which foods can satisfy the craving without bordering on unhealthy. Toss in vegetables with salt and vinegar to add some taste to the veggies you generally wouldn't eat plain. If not, some salted air-popped popcorn or a pretzel rod can do just the same. If you are a fan of the sour (I know I am!), one dill pickle can also do the trick.
Fat can be your friend
I never said you had to step away from fat all together to create a healthy snack. In fact, you should be picking options that are not fat-free or reduced-fat foods. Why? Fat-Free Or Reduced-Fat Foods, they sound so tempting, don't they? All the flavor and satisfaction but without all the fat -- who could refuse? In actuality, however, you're paying for that choice. This fits into the category of what I like to call "foods that don't make sense." The best way to illustrate this is by looking at reduced fat peanut butter. When manufacturers take fat out of peanut butter, they simply reduce the overall amount of peanuts (the healthy fat source) and replace it with sugar. Since sugar has only four calories per gram (as opposed to fat, which has nine) and does not contain any fat, the overall product is reduced of both calories and fat. Go back to the basics and stick with foods that are unaltered from the original state. Peanut butter should have one ingredient -- peanuts. So a good option would be mozzarella cheese or cottage cheese. If you're not a fan of cheese or are trying to step back, almond butter or peanut butter are great ways to combine healthy fats and proteins into your snack. Greek yogurt is all the craze at the moment and top it with a fruit of your choice, and you've got the perfect, creamy snack.
Don’t drink all of your calories
Don't drink all your calories, but that's not to say that you shouldn't drink anything delicious at all. Almond milk and light vanilla soy milk are my personal go-to's when I'm looking for something a bit tastier than just milk. Look out for whole-fruit juices, like cranberry juice and top them with lime to give generally-bitter juices a delicious spin. But do go easy on it and stick of a serving (8 oz.)
Protein is always a smart choice
Protein snacks are always a good choice like hummus. The chickpea-based spread and low-calories carbs such as Mary’s Gone Crackers are an excellent way to get a protein boost half way through the day. 2 large hard-cooked egg whites are also great when planning to hit the gym later, or toss together some sautéed tofu to get some plant-based proteins into your day.