by Brandy McDevitt, Registered Dietitian
In our fast-paced and convenience-obsessed culture, you don’t have to travel too far before you’re offered tons of snack choices. Grocery stores are lined with quick grab-and-go options that appeal to both kids and adults. When you’re constantly bombarded with less- than-ideal picks, is it even worth the effort to plan for healthier alternatives?
Yes! Actively planning for healthy, well-balanced snacks is absolutely worth the effort. Benefits include:
Preventing you from becoming hangry: irritable because you’re hungry. When you’re hangry, you’ll grab just about anything to satisfy that hunger. Often those food choices are filled with sugar or fat. They’re apt to be highly processed too.
Maximizing your intake of fruit and vegetables.
Increasing your intake of nutrients such as protein, bre and iron.
Promoting better choices at meal times.
Feeling energized throughout the day.
To enjoy these benefits, snacks ideally have a protein source (think nuts and seeds, beans and lentils, cheese, yogurt and of course meat) and a fibre source (think fruit and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, beans and lentils).
Both these nutrients help to fill you up for a longer period of time, since digestion of food containing protein and bre is slowed down. When snacks are high in refined sugar or carbohydrates (think store-bought muffins, cookies, granola bars) they often satisfy that initial hunger but then leave you feeling sapped and hungry again soon after.
Actively planning for healthy, well-balanced snacks is the key to ensuring you’re getting all the benefits of eating between meals without any of the downsides. Carve out some time to:
Make healthy muffins, granola bars or power balls (see my quick recipe) and freeze them. Cut up fresh veggies and put them in a resealable bag for quick access.
Clean apples and grapes; cut up watermelon, cantaloupe and oranges, then refrigeratein airtight containers so the fruit is ready to eat.
Divide hard-to-manage snacks, such as nuts, into portions and put them in reusable containers.
Pop popcorn on the weekend and put it into resealable snack bags.
Seize the opportunity to make the most of your (or your child’s) snack attack! Here are my favourite go-to snacks:
Banana with almond or peanut butter. (For a school-safe alternative, use Wow butter or sun ower butter.)
Apple slices sprinkled with cinnamon and a glass of milk or a milk alternative such as soy or hemp milk.
An individual serving of yogurt with a spoonful of hemp/pumpkin seeds, nuts or fresh berries.
Watermelon or cantaloupe slices with fresh squeezed lime and mint pieces, plus a handful of almonds.
Veggie sticks with hummus for dipping.
A handful of roasted chickpeas mixed with popcorn.
High-fibre crackers such as Triscuits or Ryvita with cheddar cheese or goat cheese on top.
Homemade baked goods. Give this super easy Power Balls recipe a try!
Recipe adapted from www.gimmesomeoven.com
2 cups (dry) oatmeal
1 1/3 cups toasted coconut flakes
1 cup peanut butter (or nut-free alternative such as Wow, sunflower or pumpkin seed butter)
1 cup ground flax seeds
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons ground chia seeds (optional) 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
Stir all ingredients together in a medium bowl until thoroughly mixed. If desired, cover and let chill in the refrigerator for half an hour. ( This will make rolling the balls easier.) To save time, you can also wet your hands slightly as you proceed.
Roll into balls.
Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for the week. Or put in the freezer in resealable bags for quick grab-and-go snacks.
Makes about 40 balls.
Calories: 125 Protein: 3.5 g Carbohydrate: 12 g Fat: 8 g Fibre: 3 g Sugar: 5 g ◆
Brandy McDevitt is a Registered Dietitian practicing in Ottawa in two locations: Her private practice at Meadowlands Family Health Centre and at West Carleton Family Health Team. If you are interested in optimizing your health through your eating, you are welcome to see her in her private practice at 888 Meadowlands Drive. Please call 613 288 1459 for more information or email BrandyMcDevittRD@gmail.com.