Good morning friends and Happy Friday!!!!!! Yes, it deserves that many exclamation points. I really hope you’ve had a wonderful week and that it ends on a high note.
In the beginning of the year, I asked for some feedback from readers via my Facebook page (please like me!) and solicited some thoughts on what you guys are interested in reading.
One of them was about healthy snack ideas. Ya’ll – I’M YOUR SNACK QUEEN. I got this. My nickname in college on the softball team was “Snacks.” I always carried food around, typically a box of cereal to class. While I have learned a lot more about nutrition since back when I was 18 years old (aka not to eat simple carbs alone), I still do carry snacks around at all times. Today, I’m going to show ya some of my favorites that are nutritionally sound!
Firstly, we must discuss the golden rule. When you’re choosing a snack, aim for 2 out of the 3 food groups – so pair a carb with a protein or with a fat. Don’t just have a protein, don’t just have a carb or don’t just have a fat alone. Two are better than one! The reasons being:
a) Supporting a carbohydrate with a protein or fat will lower the rise in blood sugar, and hence, reduce the spike in insulin (Insulin is a fat-storage hormone).
b) Having combinations will help keep you fuller for longer, so it should last you until your next meal.
c) Aim for 150 to 250 calories, 3 grams of fiber, 5 grams of protein, and no more than 12 grams of fat.
d) We want to use our snacks to get EXTRA nutrients, or fill in some missing holes in our diet. They aren’t a free-for-all to eat whatever, we want them to have a purpose.
Luckily, there are some items that count for two food groups (and some for THREE) as you will see below so it’s not as hard as it sounds.
Without further adieu, here are some of my go-to’s:
Greek Yogurt with Fruit– I usually opt for TJ’s Plain 2% Greek Yogurt with whatever fresh fruit I have on hand, usually bananas or berries. If I don’t have fresh fruit, I’ll use frozen, and add a touch of cinnamon and maybe some PB2.
See? Protein + carb + fat if you go full-fat yogurt.
Aim for 4-6 ounces. Substitution – cottage cheese or soy yogurt.
But sometimes, I buy flavored yogurts. These do have more sugar, so I’ll just be more cognizant of my sugar intake the remainder of the day.
Nuts/seeds – You do need to be aware of portion sizes because though they are small, these guys pack some punches. One serving of almonds, for example, is about 1 ounce, aka 1 handful, aka 23-25 almonds. That serving provides 160 calories, 14 grams of fat and 6 grams of protein. This is one of those combo foods – fats and proteins! You’re still allowed to pair 1 serving of nuts/seeds with a fruit, or half of a fruit, too!
Sadly, I’m allergic to treenuts so I can’t indulge in almonds, but I love my peanuts, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds more than anything. Nuts are also great because they require chewing, and chewing is more likely to send signals to our brain for satiety versus drinking something.
String cheese with a piece of fruit or crackers – Don’t underestimate the power of simplicity. Simple, portable snacks can be just as nutritious and if they are easier, that means you’re more likely to bring them because less prep. Carb + protein.
Or, a piece of fruit with nut butter. These are my favorites before/after exercise. Carb + fat + protein.
Roasted chickpeas – These have slowly become a new favorite because I absolutely love the crunch they provide. And, 1/2 cup of chickpeas packs 7-8 grams of protein.
Carb (and FIBER = bonus!) + protein. I’ll usually eat with cheese or fruit as well.
Hard Boiled Eggs – My lovelies. Don’t know what I would do without these. I have them for meals alot (on my salads) but they’re perfect in the snack form. Two will give ya 15 grams of protein for only 150 calories. Or, I’ll have one with a rice cake and avocado, or even a rice cake and PB. Protein + healthy fat!
Protein bites – These are easy to go overboard with, so I’ll try to pack 1-2 only and have a small piece of fruit with them.
Edamame – They have these great dry forms, and there’s even a spicy flavor that’s good too. Oftentimes, though, I’ll just put some frozen edamame in a baggy and by the time I’m hungry for a snack, it’s defrosted and ready to go. Easy peasy for portability. 1/2 cup frozen has about 110 calories and 10 grams of protein, and some carbs and fat. Complete option right there!
Decaf Latte with a piece of fruit – I’m only reccomending plain flavor, though! Don’t bother with the extra sugar if you need a snack/pick me up! A plain latte will provide around 100-130 calories and 8 grams of high quality protein. Great source, paired with fruit or nuts. I find that I need to chew something so my body recognizes I’m providing calories, as liquid calories alone don’t substantiate me.
Homemade granola or oatmeal/protein bars – This is where the power of meal prep comes in, but they are so easy for grab and go. Slab some nut butter, or cream cheese on them, or pair with a protein/fat!
Slice of whole grain toast/rice cakes with 1 tbsp peanut butter, 1 tsp jelly, 1/2 banana and some flax or chia seeds- This is the total combo – protein, carbs and fat. Ding ding.
Some other ideas:
Chia Pudding – You can see all about the whoa benefits of chia right here. Chia seeds are my besties. Behind peanut butter. And eggs.
Like I mentioned, snacks are a great way to add in extra nutrients, such as sneaking in extra veggies for some essential vitamins. You could also consider carrots/celery and hummus, peanut butter, pepper slices, or half of a sweet potato paired with a protein/fat.
Protein Smoothies – I could do a whole other post on these, but as long as you’re using whole ingredients in the right portions, this can be a great option.
1/3 cup of oatmeal with 1 tbsp PB and 1/2 banana (~250 calories, 8 grams protein)
Deli turkey wrapped around veggies or cheese.
Linking with a Life of Fitness, Health and Happiness!
If you found this helpful or liked it, please feel free to pin it or share it! Hope you all have a great weekend! E and I are headed up to see some friends in Asheville so I’m looking forward to some good food and views! What’s on tap for you?
What are your favorite snacks? Any I should add to my rotation?
Are there any nutrition/health related topics you’re interested in? What do you want to see more posts about?