Healthy Snacking

Kara Bauer Health Guide
  • As many of you are off to a great healthy start to 2010, I wanted to say a few words about the benefits of snacking and offer some new and exciting guilt-free ideas.

    Snacking, especially alongside the term “diet”, has often carried a negative connotation. However, when incorporated correctly, snacking can actually provide many nutritional benefits as well as help you lose and maintain your ideal weight.

    The main thing to remember with snacks is that they are best enjoyed for the purpose of curving hunger between meals as opposed to numbing emotions. Before snacking, really assess whether you are truly hungry or just wanting to satisfy feelings of boredom, sadness, excitement, anxiety or any other emotion that can send you to the kitchen.

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    Healthy snacking offers an opportunity to include nutrients in your diet that you might otherwise miss such as healthy vegetables, fruits, fats, whole grains, etc. A great strategy is to think about nutrients you haven’t included or won’t include in your meal plans that day, and find ways to incorporate them through snacks. There are many delicious options, which I will touch on later.

    Snacks are also a great way to manage your weight. They allow you to keep your blood sugar balanced throughout the day and also help prevent you from overeating at regular meal times. This is especially important for those with diabetes and also  those who do a lot of physical activity.

    Lastly, snacking mid-morning and mid-afternoon are great times to refuel your body. However, I wouldn’t recommend eating after 9 or 10pm. Providing your digestive system with a long and much needed break will help you sleep better throughout the night, which is key to your overall health and wellness.

    So what kinds of foods can you snack on? Here is a list of some of my favorites.

    Healthy Fats: Avocados, almonds, cashews, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds. Choose organic and raw when you can.

    Try making a nut or butter in your food processor and using it as a spread on a piece of whole wheat bread or dehydrated seed cracker. Basic nut butters are made with nuts, olive oil, and a dash of sea salt.

    Vegetables: Red pepper, carrots, celery, broccoli, radishes, greens and anything else that sounds appealing mid-day.

    Raw vegetables can be eaten with a healthy hummus, tahini dressing, guacamole or even a raw vegetable pate that can also be easily prepared in a food processor. Steamed vegetables are great with a bit of olive oil and sea salt or Nama Shoyu (raw soy sauce). And, if you have a dehydrator or even an oven, kale chips are one of my all time favorites and surprisingly delectable.

    Fruits: Apples, oranges, bananas, melon, berries and exotic fruits are all great snacks in their fresh, whole form.

    Blend several fruits with some coconut water or nut milk for a healthy smoothie. If you want a sweeter drink and don’t have any negative reactions to sugar, try adding a few dates or a dash of agave nectar. For a real treat, blend frozen bananas with a bit of water in a high-speed blender and you will never miss ice cream again!

  • Grains: Quinoa, brown rice, amaranth, millet, barley and buckwheat are some of my favorites.  Sprouted breads are also a great option.

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    Enjoy a tabouli salad or put together a grain porridge by sweetening up some left over grains with fruit, cinnamon, nut milk and a touch of maple syrup or honey. Nut milks can be made by blending soaked nuts with water and then separating the pulp using a mesh bag.

    Other Ideas: Fresh popcorn (popped in coconut oil or ghee), fresh vegetable juices, organic plain yogurt (sweetened with fresh fruits), dried organic fruits, cacao nibs, sweet potato fries (baked with a bit of oil and sea salt or cinnamon), olives, pickles, and fresh salads with homemade dressings.

    And for the really good snacks, visit the raw foods section of your natural foods supermarket. You’ll be surprised by all of the fabulous nut/seed/fruit based products and incredible organic, vegan treats.

Published On: January 11, 2010