In the last article, 9 Things You Should Look For In A Healthy Snack, I gave you a nice overall set of criteria I use to choose what I snack on.
Here I’ll give you the goods: What I like to snack on.
So without further ado, here are some of my 8 favorites that keep me fueled during the day.
Okay, I’m not trying to go Spartan on you. But most of the time we think we’re hungry when we’re really thirsty. Now I don’t advocate drinking water until you’re bloated and running to the bathroom every half hour. But in general, most people drink less than they should.
Also, it’s amazing how much clear, fresh water wakes you up and recharges you. Just think about it. Every metabolic reaction, every cell in your body needs water. You’re 2/3 water as it is.
I use a Waterwise distiller for a number of reasons which I go into a little more in depth in the ebook. But mainly because it’s the best way to ensure that my water is contaminant free. I can get my minerals elsewhere, thank you. And to top it off, it’s delicious-tasting.
2. A good cup of tea
Tea fits right into the hydrate-before-you-snack principle. But it also serves a particular purpose for me that may be somewhat based on where I live.
I live in New England and we heat with a woodstove. While our house is pretty comfortable, it can get a little chilly at times. Plus I seem to get cold pretty easily anyways (at some point I’ll have to get my thyroid checked)
For a long time when I got cold, I would eat. An instinctive urge that makes sense given that when your body feels cold it begs for calories to burn and turn into insulating fat.
However, I know I really don’t need the extra calories. So instead, I warm up my core with a cup of tea. It’s a trick I used when hiking in the Alaskan mountains when I was younger and I still use in my New Hampshire home.
My favorite teas are rooibos, English breakfast black tea and green tea (decaffeinated). I sweeten it with a little honey or maple syrup (from our maple trees).
Sometimes I add a little lemon, which some research conducted at Purdue University on the indicates may increase the survival of green tea’s catechins after digestion by as much as 98%.
And often I have it traditional-style with some 2% fat organic milk. While some dispute that milk helps with the bioavailability of tea’s catechins, this same study showed that milk increased catechin survival after digestion by 52%-69%.
In fact most evenings, tea has also become my dessert. When I’m feeling especially chilly while my body is digesting after a meal, it’s the perfect way to warm up a little and have a touch of creamy, sweetness.
One other thing to note, studies have also shown that people who drink tea regularly (black, green or oolong) tend to get sick much less than non-tea drinkers.
3. Any fruit in season
I don’t need to go into the advantages of eating fruit. You know it’s good to eat more fruit and vegetables. And it really is – fruits are full of antioxidants and fiber as well as all kinds of unique compounds made by the plants that produced it.
In summer, I can roam around our farm and snack progressively on strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, plums, peaches, grapes, apples, pears and back to raspberries.
And here is where you’ll find some of the real health benefits of eating fruit . . .
Eating fruit is not only good for you in a nutritional sense, but it also can give you a quick pleasurable break during your day. It’s a wonderful way to take a few moments and really enjoy the act of eating, notice how your body reacts to it. Sit near a sunny window or outside while you do it and feel the warmth. Look around and observe the world. Look far off and give your distance vision some time.
Breathe a bit and get out of the virtual world.
We all need this in our day.
Okay, now let’s get a little more substance here. Around here we buy a 10-pound bag of raw redskinned peanuts every month or so from our coop, keep it in the freezer and periodically lightly toast them in our toaster oven.
They go with us skiing, biking, hiking and on road trips. They are what we grab for a quick snack when working outdoors.
And indoors, they keep me going when I’m working on a brain-power consuming project. Even my husband who used to feel he needed meat to keep him going whenever he felt hunger pangs has changed his tune thanks to this nut. He now swears if he was stuck on a mountain with a bag of peanuts he’d feel fine.
The peanut really is an incredible food. Peanuts are legumes and contain protein. They contain a mix of healthy fats including monounsaturated fats that may help you maintain healthy cholesterol levels. They have lots of vitamin E and B vitamins, especially niacin which is linked to preventing Alzheimers. And they also have choline another brain food as well as trace minerals magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, manganese, copper, zinc. Finally, the red skins when slightly toasted contain about the same antioxidants as ruby red strawberries, including the magnificent coenzyme Q-10.
And while peanuts are one of my favorites to snack on by the handful, all nuts bring you lots of good stuff. A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that people who ate nuts 4 times a week may lower their risk of dying from coronary heart disease by 37 % compared to people who seldom or never eat nuts.
And another study published in the journal Obesity found that people who eat nuts at least two times a week are less likely to gain weight than people who never or rarely eat nuts
One of the reasons may be that the fats in nuts seem to suppress the hormone ghrelin that your stomach produces to start the “I’m hungry” messaging.
5. Yogurt and nuts and fruit
Okay, I won’t get into nuts again – but you can see I love them. But I will say that with yogurt I tend to prefer walnuts, packed with omega-3′s. Or almonds.
Yogurt is another powerhouse – packed with protein, and good stuff like calcium. Don’t even bother with a yogurt that doesn’t have live active cultures. You want something teeming with bacteria (the good kind). These probiotics have been linked to all kinds of health benefits – from fewer bouts with the flu to longer lifespans. And they make digestion easier as well.
Toss in your favorite fruits – and you’ve got a serious snack.
I like Stoneyfield organic low fat or non-fat yogurt. I did my farming apprenticeship near the original Stoneyfield Farm so I guess there’s a little local loyalty going here.
But they also have a great lineup of probiotics – like: S. thermophilus (great for warding off colds); L bulguricus (linked to the legendary long-living Bulgarians), L. acidophilus (one of the first probiotics on the commercial scene and great for all around small intestinal health), L casei (tough and excellent for helping with digestion) and L. rhamnosus (good for diarrhea). Plus they have Bifidus for the lower intestine.
The other reason I like their yogurts is that even the flavored ones aren’t as sweet as Activia. In fact I usually use the plain yogurt and add a little of our maple syrup to sweeten it up. Honey and a dash of vanilla extract also work nicely.
6. Hummus and string beans, carrots or pretzels
Hummus is always in the fridge in the summer here when you can pair it with something good from the garden. One of our favorites is rattlesnake pole beans right off of the vine.
It gives you a good hit of protein along with fiber, and lots of good B vitamins that help on so many fronts. The tahini (sesame paste) brings some nice vitamin E to it. And then I add some roasted garlic, chives and fresh parsely – when it’s available – which is loaded with iron.
Here’s my simple recipe: You can use canned chickpeas (I advise giving them a rinse to reduce the salt) or for a cheaper, lower-sodium version, soak your chickpeas overnight and toss them in the slow cooker the next day for several hours until they are soft.
Tahini is a middle eastern ingredient – essentially sesame seeds ground up. You can find it in most health food stores.
1. Roast 6 cloves of garlic in the toaster oven.
2. Toss in food processor with the a handful of fresh chives and parsley and chop up.
3. Add 2 c. cooked chickpeas, 4 T lemon juice, a pinch of salt, 3 T tahini and 2 T coldwater.
4. Blend until smooth (add water if necessary to make smoother) and adjust seasonings to your taste.
Eat it with some veggies or pretzels. I also like to smear it on a veggie burger for a quick lunch. It’s a great staple to have around and easy to make.
7. Apples and Peanut butter
Yes peanuts make another appearance on this one. But I truly love them – I swear my two children are partially made up of peanut butter, I ate so much of it when I was pregnant with them.
If you are allergic to peanuts, however, almond butter or cashew butter makes a nice substitute.
8. Popcorn with nutritional yeast, a little garlic and butter (optional)
Just the other day, when we came in from shoveling snow off the driveway, I popped some popcorn and mixed this up. Even my kids admitted reluctantly that nutritional yeast isn’t that bad.
Nutritional yeast is usually used by vegans because of the protein and B vitamins it brings to a meal, along with a creamy rich flavor kind of like cheese.
And the nice thing is you can reduce the butter when you use this. It makes popcorn with very little or no butter equally rich flavored and nutritious! Add a dash of butter or even some paprika or cayenne and you’ve got a nice flavorful pick me up that’s light on the calories. Another alternative is to hold the butter and sprinkle a little soy sauce on the popcorn along with the “yeastie beasties” (nutritional yeast)
You can usually find nutritional yeast in the bulk section of a health food store. It’s a yellowish flaky powder. And a little goes a long way since you just sprinkle it on. Better to buy a little and use it fresh.
So next time you feel the munchies, instead of reaching for something to sweet or too starchy, get one of these powerhouse snacks. They will satisfy your hunger and keep you going with more energy.
And if you have some favorites to add – or questions – put them in the comments section. While I love these, I’m always looking for new ones – and I bet I’m not the only one!
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