With Michelle Davies, Nutrition Intern
We’ve all been there – it’s 3:00 pm and lunch is behind us with dinner on the distant horizon. Stomach is growling and the office vending machine and day-old muffin are starting to look like real options. For most of us, the in-between-meal hunger pangs happen every day, which is why it is so important to plan ahead and have healthy snack options available. By always keeping a variety of nutrient-dense snacks at home, in the office, and even in the car, you will feel less tempted to reach for those with empty calories.
Not only does snacking satisfy our hunger, but it may also help stabilize blood sugar levels, boost metabolism, and give your body more opportunities to get all the nutrients it needs. The ideal snack should be nutritionally balanced mini-meal of about 200 calories or less, and consist of a carbohydrate, protein, and a fat. This combination of all three macronutrients is crucial to ensure that your snack will keep your energy levels stable and tide you over until the next meal.
Here are some quick and healthy snack options that are great at home or on-the-go:
- Raw or roasted low-glycemic index vegetables + dips: Any firm vehicle will do here – the usual suspects of sliced raw cucumbers, carrots, and peppers should always be on hand. Roasted hearty vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and sweet potatoes are terrific for snacking. Dips that cling, such as hummus, other bean dips, and tahini dressing round out the snack.
- Raw fruit, vegetables, and thin rice cakes + nut butters: Apples, bananas, celery, or carrots are simply delicious with nut butter – roll in flax meal for added crunch and a dose of healthy omega-3’s. We love Lundberg Brand Thin Stackers rice cakes. Spread with 1 teaspoon of nut butter or hummus and layer with sliced fruit or cucumbers.
- Hard-boiled eggs + low-glycemic vegetables: If you like eggs, keep some hard-boiled and peeled in your refrigerator. Consume one whole egg and a few whites with some chopped tomato or salsa and avocado. Slice and enjoy on a rice cake with some guacamole [we love the single packs for portion control].
- Greek yogurt + raw nuts or seeds: Greek yogurt is high in protein and the unflavored varieties are typically low in sugar. If you like a touch of sweetness, drizzle with some maple syrup. Kite Hill Almond yogurt is a terrific option if you do not eat dairy.
- Fruit + raw nuts: Enjoy a cup of low-glycemic fruit, like berries, or a whole piece of fruit, like an orange or clementine, with a handful of raw, unsalted nuts. We recommend that you keep portion-controlled servings of nuts [1 oz. = handful = about 26 almonds for example] on hand as few can be trusted with a full bag of nuts. Keep small baggies [Wegman’s sells portion-control bags with ounces listed on side] or small containers in your desk drawer or car.
- Naked shake: A “naked” shake is your favorite protein powder + water – shake in a blender bottle [the ones with the whisk in bottom] or blender. Find a palatable protein powder that is high in fiber and high-quality protein and has less than 200 calories per serving. While we are mostly in favor of a whole-food snack, this is a much better option than nothing at all or worse, a processed food loaded with sugar. Our clients LOVE the TLS Shakes we have available here.