Healthy Snacking Basics – Part 2: Whole Food Options

Michael SallustioBlogLeave a Comment

bigstock Celery And Peanut Butter 3597375

The last time, we talked about snack bars and protein bars as a quick and ultra-convenient option for those in-between meal times. This time let’s focus on foods that, while they may not be quite as convenient as grabbing a bar, are still things you can eat within 5-10 minutes without requiring much preparation like reheating.

As we did in the first installment of this series, let’s set our parameters for what comprises a healthy snack option. It should be:

          1. 1.Low-glycemic (does not raise blood sugar quickly);
          2. 2.Fairly balanced (relatively equal amounts of carbs, fat, and protein); and
          3. 3.Minimally processed (low or no preservatives or artificial flavors).

               Now I know in the first installment of this series I made a crack about munching on celery sticks, but they actually aren’t all that bad if accompanied by something to dip them in. So what are some nutritious dips that fit our snack guidelines? Here are a few:

          1. 1.Nut Butters — almond, peanut, sunflower, macadamia  bigstock Celery And Peanut Butter 3597375
          2. 2.Hummus
          3. 3.Guacamole
          4. 4.Greek yogurt
          5. 5.Black bean dip

                Besides celery, other foods that are conducive to dipping are: sliced Bell Peppers; Apples; Snap peas; Fennel; Jicama; Carrots;  Cucumbers;and Cauliflower.

                If you are not sensitive to milk, yogurt and cottage cheese are also excellent options for snacks. However, most people choose the low-fat or non-fat varieties because they think that cutting out the fat is a good thing. Getting into the reasons why this is not true is a topic for another article…so stay tuned. Suffice it to say, cutting out the fat promotes blood sugar swings and violates one of the three guidelines listed above. So get whole, unsweetened yogurt and if you want some more flavor, throw in a scoop of chocolate whey protein powder and boost your protein grams at the same time. You can make your yogurt taste like chocolate pudding! Alternatively, you could mix in some fresh blueberries or strawberries.

Jerky! Yes, jerky. Jerky is another good option for a snack on the go. I am talking about beef jerky, turkey jerky, buffalo jerky, ostrich jerky. However, most jerky is made with unhealthy preservatives and artificial flavors like MSG. There are more natural meat jerkies out there. Read your labels! By definition, jerky will contain some sugar. I am partial to turkey jerky myself, but on occasion I will make my own. I own a food dehydrator so it is fairly simple for me. If you don’t own a food dehydrator, you can use your oven to make jerky. Just slice up the meat very thin and marinate it in some soy sauce or honey and vinegar mixture. Lay it out on cookie sheets and place in oven at 120-140 degrees for several hours until dry.

Finally, one of my favorite snacks are nuts, seeds, and trail mixes. They represent the ultimate in convenience and they are darn tasty. The easiest option here is to find a good raw mix of walnuts, almonds, brazils, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and maybe some raisins. I say raw because roasted nuts contain less to none of the healthy omega fats (EFA’s) that make nuts so good for you. Trader Joe’s has one called “Go Raw Trail Mix.” Whole Foods has one called “Cocono Trail Mix.”

I often make my own trail mix. Another great trick is to soak the nuts and seeds overnight in sea salt water (I use mason jars), rinse them off the next morning and dehydrate them at low temperature for several hours. This not only makes the nuts easier to digest, it infuses them with essential minerals and makes them taste much better. Just remember that because nuts and seeds contain essential fatty acids, you should keep them refrigerated unless you plan to eat them within a few days.

So there are some great whole food snack ideas. I hope you found a few that you like and if not, make up your own using the guidelines above.

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