Busy days and packed schedules require some extra fuel – nothing is worse than running out of steam in the middle of the afternoon. While you could propel yourself with caffeine or sugar throughout the day, it might leave you feeling jittery, make you crash or keep you up all night. Try one of these energizing snacks instead to stay on top of your game and get an added dose of nutritious fats and vitamins.
Many people avoid nuts because of their fat content, but keep in mind that there are good fats and bad fats. Walnuts, for example, contain large amounts of the polyunsaturated fatty acid omega-3, and almonds contain healthy monounsaturated fat. Nuts are also chock full of nutrients and protein – for instance, one serving of raw almonds (about 23 almonds) contains 6 grams of protein, plus calcium, iron and magnesium. Brazil nuts are a great source of selenium, and cashews, pistachios and hazel nuts are rich sources of iron.
Dried Fruit and Seeds
Take a look at the nutritional facts of your favorite granola bar. Many of them contain lots of added sugar. Instead, opt for sunflower seeds (which are rich in omega-6), dried apricots (good sources of vitamin A, iron, calcium, potassium and fiber) or a natural trail mix with various nut and dried berries (most contain iron and calcium for slow-release energy).
Dark Chocolate or Licorice
A few squares of dark chocolate (with high cocoa content) and licorice are good if you need extra iron. Dark chocolate also contains antioxidants.
A large proportion of the starch in ripe bananas has been converted to sugar, which makes them easier to digest. Eat a banana with a handful of nuts for a lasting energy boost.
Of all the snacks that give you energy, oats have a cholesterol-lowering effect and are high in fiber, vitamins B and E, iron and zinc. Look for oat-based crackers with low sugar content, and spread almond butter on top, which contains “good” fat and vitamin E (and also makes a great afternoon snack!).
Cucumber provides an additional source of hydration and is good for muscles, bones and other body tissues.
Apples are an excellent source of energy, are rich in antioxidants and also aid in digestion. Make sure to eat the peel, which contains the majority of the fiber and good-for-you nutrients.
Tips for Healthy Snacking
Although munching on small portions of junk food throughout the day might not seem that bad, over time (even over a day!) the calories can add up. Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day and keep the above foods on hand. Pack them in plastic bags with a Bounty napkin for easy snacking on the go. The ideas below can help you get on the right track.
1. Out of Sight, out of Mind
You are definitely inclined to indulge every once in a while, but if your pantry is stuffed full of candy and cookies, it’s easy to sneak a sweet every time you walk into the kitchen.
2. Swap Bad for Good
If you’re used to mindlessly eating popcorn when you watch a movie, make sure to hold a water bottle instead. Sometimes, we simply eat or drink things because we’re accustomed to it. Take the initiative and change that!
3. Engage Your Mind
Have a crossword puzzle handy in the kitchen to avoid eating out of boredom. If you are on your way with the children to some activity, it can help to play a little if you get an acute yearning for coffee and sweets.
4. Prep Portions in Advance
You’ll be more likely to make a healthier choice if you have premeasured portions of wholesome snacks within reach. Take some time to measure out the appropriate serving size and store snacks in sealable containers, and keep them on the counter or in the fridge. When you’re finished, cleanup will be a cinch with a few drops of Dawn dish soap and a roll of Bounty paper towels!
What are your favorite healthy snacks? How do you stay on track with healthy eating? Share your tips and suggestions with the community by logging on or registering.