6 Great Healthy Snack Options to Consider
Snacking is a good strategy to keep your metabolic engine cranking. I’ve spoken on this subject before. We never want large gaps between meals (more than 4 hours) as it causes our resting metabolism to slow down as a way to conserve energy. As North America becomes busier and busier, more people are substituting grab-and-go foods for actual meals. Snacking is up 15% as a means to support our standard breakfast, lunch and dinner options. In fact Americans are spending up to $48 billion per year on salty and sugary snacks, three times more than what’s being spent on fruit and vegetables.
Everyone has to eat on the run occasionally. Below are some tips for “snacks as a meal” to provide you with the fuel needed to do your best at work, school, home and play.
- The Snack Must Deliver the Goods
One of the best ways to gain weight is by depriving yourself of the calories it needs while snacking and inevitably overeating later. You should aim for at least 400 calories consisting primarily of protein and complex carbs (beans, fruits, whole grains and greens). This will give you the vitamins and minerals your body needs as well.
- Stock the Fridge, Freezer and Pantry
Keep unsalted nuts, dried fruit without sweeteners and nut butters (peanut, almond, cashew) in the pantry. The refrigerator should contain seasonal fruits and vegetables as well as non/low-fat yogurt, hummus, low-fat cheese and whole-grain bread, pitas or tortilla wraps. The freezer stores frozen fruit (i.e. strawberries, raspberries, blueberries) and frozen vegetables (i.e. kale and peas). Ground flax seeds, sunflower or sesame seeds, bananas, tomatoes and avocados are perfect for the counter top.
- Breakfast Snacking
Whip up a quick smoothie for your commute including fresh or frozen fruit, yogurt, kale, unsweetened almond or soy milk and some flax seed. Another option is spreading almond butter on a whole-grain tortilla, topped with banana slices, raisins and a little cinnamon.
- Lunch Snacking
Put a pouch of tuna, pre-washed greens, avocado chunks and a tiny bit of dressing made from olive oil and lemon juice in a sealed container. Perhaps mash up some beans on a tortilla covered with tomatoes, avocado and cheese in a sandwich bag. Eat-and-run sides are a good addition as well, such as fresh fruit, baby carrots, red peppers and zucchini strips.
- Dinner Snacking
Not at home for dinner? Try this option: zucchini chips. Prepare them thinly sliced with olive oil and sea salt. Bake at 400 F for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, cool and then re-bake at 350 F for added crunchiness. Place them in zip-lock baggies for portability. Combine with pre-made broiled chicken tenders, including non-fat yogurt dill and cucumber sauce for taste.
- In-Between Snacks
Your best bet is any combination of nuts with fresh fruit. Whether it’s almonds, walnuts, cashews mixed with an apple, orange, pear or a cup of mixed berries. My go-to is almonds with an apple. I also like the banana and peanut butter option. Enjoy!