Cultural eating habits have altered to encourage almost permanent snacking. Our waist-lines are bearing the brunt of the advertising onslaught, and many people are caving in under the temptation of seemingly endless delicious snacking possibilities. We can make a stand and snack sensibly to keep ourselves energized, and of a healthy weight, but first we have to accept the first rule of snacking; our snacks need to be small. We have been led to believe that a packet of crisps that would happily fit in a bucket is an acceptably-sized snack (and almost necessary for TV watching); however a true snack is closer to something of the size that would neatly snuggle into your cupped hand. Over-consumption of the healthiest snacks will still lead to weight gain.
The second rule of snacking is: be prepared. If you have things close at hand you will always be in a strong position, avoiding hunger pangs, temptations, or having to buy anything in a garage on a car journey. So this week, here are some snack essentials for your shopping list; clear out the problem foods from your desks, glove boxes and cupboards, and re-stock with better healthier snacks.
Stuff for the fridge;
o Cook up a bowl of brown or wild rice (or some pasta) for the fridge (it will last for 3 days) then it is always there for emergency snacks and meals. Mix with roasted vegetables, freshly chopped raw veg (tomato, cucumber, onion, peppers, fresh herbs) or canned fish, to make many different variations of cold pasta/rice salad. Avoid mayo or dressings, use lemon juice, fresh herbs, or a little soy sauce. A small pot will serve as a filling snack.
o Try steaming apples and fresh or frozen blueberries or raspberries (near puddings in the freezer section of the supermarket), and then blend to make a delicious fat-free high-vitamin puree to store in the fridge for several days. Add to low-fat natural yoghurt as a little sweet snack or pudding or layer with oats for a scrummy breakfast or more filling snack.
o Prepare a container of thinly sliced vegetables; raw carrot, peppers, cucumber, celery, cauliflower, lightly steamed green beans, mange tout peas and baby corn. Dip in a little pot of hummus as a snack or light meal, or munch at your leisure on their own. A great way of increasing your daily intake of veggies, vitamins and antioxidants (cancer-fighters).
o Hard boil some eggs. Handy and filling; peel and squash onto a rice cake, or munch with some veggie sticks.
o Berries; any berries will do; keep them chilled, keep them handy, keep them away from me because I will eat the lot.
o Smoothies; pure fruit smoothies are a good snack option, avoid ones with added sugar, honey or yoghurt if you are watching your weight.
Having ready-to-eat things in the fridge will help guard against frenzied snack-finding missions. These things are also handy for throwing into little pots and taking to work or on outings; plan ahead to resist temptation.
Stuff for the cupboard;
o Rice cakes (Kallo are a widely-available good brand). Avoid ones with artificial flavours or ones with a high salt content.
o Oat cakes; great for slow release energy, but remember the first rule of snacking; small amounts as they do contain fat. Eat with sliced cucumber, tomato, hummus, cottage cheese, a thin slice of lower-fat cheese or on their own.
o Dried fruit and nuts; don’t over do them, but a palm-sized amount (no, not heaped) will offer energy and a rich source of nutrients and essential fats. Choose from Brazils, almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, dried mango (great also for kids), apricots, apple rings, and prunes. I choose organic dried fruit as it does not contain any preservatives.
o Malt loaf; a slice is a good alternative to cake if you HAVE to have something sweet. Tesco do an organic malt loaf which is low in fat; others may contain hydrogenated fats so watch out!
o Tinned fish; mash red salmon, sardines or tuna onto a piece of wholemeal toast or rice cake for a satisfying snack or light meal, packed with essential fats.
o Keep a well-stocked fruit bowl; throw a piece of fruit in your bag wherever you go. Bananas are unbeatable, and provide a mood-boosting ingredient to keep you smiling at work. Team a banana with an oatcake to give longer-lasting energy.
Stuff for the Kids (and grown-ups too)
o Bread sticks (better than crisps).
o Watermelon smiles (I mean slices).
o Small bananas (they look kid-friendly).
o Little packets of raisins (high in sugar so keep teeth well-brushed).
o Dried fruit and nut mix-up.
o Small yoghurts (Yeo Valley Organics have free spoons to collect at the moment)
o All fruit and veg cut into small pieces.
o Popcorn; make your own, using less oil than stated, serve up in small paper bags; so cheap and easy.
o Check out the baby Organix ‘goodies’ range, they promise to use only natural ingredients. http://www.organix.com/products/Goodies
I hope that this has given you some ideas. Remember your rules of snacking: keep it small, and keep it handy, and never forget rule number 3; if a certain snack is a temptation to you, then don’t let it linger in your cupboard, bin it!
Until next time,
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