I don’t know about you, but when I think of snacks, I think of what was in the lunchroom growing up. All kinds of packaged snacks that included chips, Hostess cakes, fruit roll ups, packages of cookies, granola bars, and maybe some fruit.
Even now when I hear the words snack, I think of something crunchy and small. But the truth is, you can eat well for all your meals and potentially get into a lot of trouble at snack-time. This is because of calorie density.
Take almonds, for example, they’re so small and harmless right? Not so much: one ounce of almonds…which is about half a handful…have 160 calories and 15 grams of fat — which is 80% fat!
Now we all know that stopping at that “half a handful” is not usually what happens…a couple more are thrown down the gullet, maybe with some raisins or chocolate chips too as part of a trail mix. Pretty soon, your caloric intake is far exceeding your expenditure!
Besides, nuts are not very filling, so eating more is necessary to satisfy your hunger, because they’re calorie-dense foods. (I have another blog not that coming out soon). Nuts are best to be eaten when part of a dish, not the main event.
How can you avoid the trap of eating unhealthy snacks and gaining weight? Eat calorie-dilute/nutrient-dense foods; foods with lots of fiber and low in fat…foods found in a plant-based diet.
Two things to remember with regards to snacking between meals:
- Snacks are an extension of your meals…so supplement with some fruit or have leftovers of your meal. Such as soup or a veggie wrap.
- Hunger is not an emergency! Be mindful of the decisions you’re making with regard to what you’re putting in your mouth. Prepare yourself for those times you know hunger strikes and your decision-making skills are not as optimal – like after work and before dinner or after dinner when you’re bored.
Examples of what 150 calorie snacks look like
Pretty crazy huh? The almond butter wasn’t even enough to cover the whole rice cake!
The key to good health and weight loss is nutrient-dense foods. Instead of a small, calorie-dense food package for snacks, have a piece of fruit, leftover soup, or a veggie wrap. These foods will take the edge off but won’t add more unnecessary fat and calories. .
Here are some of our favorite healthy snack foods:
- Fruit: Bare naked fruit. Just wash, peel or slice as needed. Even better, make a fruit salad to have on-hand. Cut up oranges and melons ahead of time and have them ready to eat.
- Vegetables and fat-free hummus: Carrots cut on the diagonal, baby carrots, cucumbers, peppers, mushrooms…you get the picture.
- Roasted chickpeas or black beans: Rinse cooked beans and toss with spices such as: salt & pepper, cumin & paprika, cinnamon, chili powder, or tamari…possibilities are endless. Bake at 400 on parchment paper-lined baking sheet for 20-30 minutes until crispy.
- Potato wedges: Dipped in mustard or ketchup or any fat-free dip! Preheat oven to 400. Cut potatoes in 8ths. (In half the long way then each half in 4ths the long way). Toss with spices, potatoes should be wet from washing so spices stick. Bake on parchment paper for 20 min, flip, and bake another 20 min until crisp.
- Rice cake or whole grain crackers*: Serve with with fruit preserves, tablespoon of nut butter, or fat-free hummus. (*fat free – i.e. Engine 2, Wasa, Lindeberg)
- Quesadillas: Made with corn tortilla, fat-free vegan refried beans, salsa. Heat skillet to medium-high heat. On first tortilla, spread on refried beans, hummus and salsa with a spatula. Top with second tortilla. Place on heated skillet and cook for about 30-60 seconds, flip, and cook other side for another 30-60 seconds until crisped to your liking. Remove from pan and cut with pizza slicer into 8ths.
So many delicious, nutritious snacking options! Which one of these is your favorite? #plantbasedsnacks #eattooptimal