Do you find that snacking is where you often derail your healthy habits? Our lives get so busy and if you are on-the-go, or even absorbed in a big project at home, it’s easy to grab that bag of chips or reach for something sweet.
You’re hungry, you have a lot to get done, and yet that doesn’t mean you have to compromise your health by settling for Twinkies!
First, what’s so important about healthy snacking?
● Stabilize your blood sugar
● Keep your mood steady and focus sharp
So what should you look for in a healthy snack? Choose snacks that will give you some extra protein, fiber, or natural sugars to boost your energy and yet keep your blood sugar levels stable.
My top 10 favorite healthy snacks are:
● Nuts—an excellent source of high protein. Look for raw or dry roasted and stay away from nuts with additives like vegetable oil and salt as these can turn rancid if they sit in a bag in a store. Raw almonds are my favorite go-to snack – at home or while out and about;
● Fruit—packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Choose fruits like bananas that are packed with potassium or apples for that extra Vitamin C and great fiber;
● Raw veggies—slices of raw veggies are loaded with vitamins and minerals. A bag of carrots, celery, jicama, cherry tomatoes, or cucumber slices is great low-calorie, vitamin-packed snack any time;
● Seeds—pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds are high in sources of vegetable protein. Look for raw organic seeds wherever possible. You can find them in the bulk food section of health food stores, and even my neighborhood grocery store has a wonderful organic section with raw nuts and seeds;
● Hard boiled eggs—high source of protein and will keep your blood sugars level. I boil a dozen eggs on the weekend to have these on hand. My husband frequently takes some boiled eggs with him for his mid-morning snack;
● Nut butter sandwich or on celery – high in protein and stabilizes blood sugar. For your nut butter, read the label to make sure that it doesn’t contain any extra sugars. There is a wide variety in the types and quality of nut butters, so just read the labels and look for the fewest number of ingredients;
● Yogurt—high in protein and good source of healthy fats. Avoid the low-fat varieties. Choose plain, full-fat, organic yogurt. Add your own fruit, some cinnamon, chia seeds, vanilla extract and honey if you like it a bit sweeter.
And when you want a sweet snack:
● Energy bars—a much healthier and nutritious alternative to chocolate bars. Avoid brands with soy protein isolate and look for brands that contain whey protein, hemp protein or pea protein. Reading labels here will really help. Many times you will find a protein bar really high in protein but it’s also really high in sugar. I used to think I was eating really healthy by having an energy bar as my mid-morning snack and as I got healthier and really looked at what I was eating, I realized that my one small energy bar had 20 grams of sugar! Yikes! My favorite snack bar now is the KIND nut bars. Many have only 4 grams of sugar with 6 grams of protein.
● Dark chocolate—high in natural caffeine that can give you that energy boost. Look for brands that list cacao as the first ingredient not sugar.
● Trail Mix—packed with a combo of proteins and sugars to increase your energy. Choose a mix that doesn’t contain added vegetable oil and salt. Your best option is to buy a variety of nuts, seeds, raisins and cranberries at the health food store and make a mixture you love.
Remember to plan ahead. If you are going to be on-the-go, know what you’ll pack. If it’s hot outside, throw an ice pack into a lunch tote to carry your healthy snacks. Always keep some almonds or other nuts with you in case you run late.