To snack or not to snack?
I get that question a lot. And the answer? It depends. Are you hungry? If you’re hungry please snack, if you’re not then it’s probably not necessary. Some people do better with three larger, balanced meals a day, while others tend to eat smaller meals and snacks in between. Either way, just decide what works best for you.
I myself am an afternoon snacker. Between my lunch break and when I get off work 6-7 hours have gone by. And by that time I’m huuungry! Well only if I don’t have a snack. Typically I ask clients to “check in” with their body every 4 hours after their last meal to see if they need a snack. Sometimes waiting longer than 4 hours can bring you to the point of being overly hungry, which we want to avoid. And over time many of us have lost touch with our innate hunger and fullness cues. We no longer feel hungry and we can’t determine that we’re satisfied with a meal before we’re overly stuffed and it’s too late. Being more “in tune” with your body can help you to listen to those natural cues. Your body knows when it needs food, you just have to learn to hear it. I work with clients one-on-one to help them get to a place where they can be more mindful eater and have a healthier relationship with food. Think you may need help with this? Shoot me an email to email@example.com.
Some benefits of snacking.
Having some whole-food snacks on hand in your desk drawer, in your purse or even in your car can save you from the dreaded ravenous feeling when you finally get home from work. I know the feeling. You’re tired, you’re hungry and you could eat everything and anything sight. The evening tends to be the time when most people overeat and overindulge. And most of the time it’s because they’ve eaten too little throughout the day, so by evening time your body is starving for food. Ideally your body wants whole foods that provide nutrients, fiber, healthy fats, protein, etc., but in a time of desperation your body will crave anything, healthy or not, leaving you with those dreaded sugar + junk food cravings that you can’t seem to kick. What if the solution to those late night binges was as simple as snacking throughout the day? For you, it might be, so give it a try.
A good snack should be balanced. And when I say balanced I mean it should ideally contain some clean protein, healthy fats, carbohydrates + fiber. Not all snacks will have all of these components, but the more that you can choose balanced snacks, the better off you’ll be when it comes to curbing unwanted cravings and avoiding becoming overly hungry between meals.
Here are some of my favorite, go-to snacks [in no particular order]:
Healthy, whole-food snacking at its best.
 raw veggies + hummus.
Simple and clean. Just make sure you’re reading the ingredient label on your hummus to make sure you recognize all of the ingredients. Or better yet, make some homemade hummus for dipping.
veggies = healthy carbs + fiber
hummus = healthy fats + protein
 Super Green Smoothie.
My Super Green Smoothie is a staple in my diet. I drink it mainly for breakfast, but will also have it as a snack on the weekends or even as a meal replacement for dinner if I’m in a pinch for time. [some of my favorite protein powder brands include: Vega® Protein + Greens, Sunwarrior® Warrior Blend, Garden of Life®]. They are all clean, gluten-free, vegetarian, dairy-free, soy-free, egg-free, contain no added sugar, preservatives, additives, chemicals, etc. They contains all essential amino acids and taste great, plus they come in different flavors like vanilla and chocolate. For my full smoothie recipe check out this post.
spinach = healthy carbs + fiber
berries + banana = healthy carbs + fiber
protein powder = clean protein
nut butter or avocado = healthy fats
 Super Green Juice.
As summer approaches I start to crave my Super Green Juice more and more. It’s light, refreshing and loaded with nutrients! The juicer I use and love is the Breville® Juice Fountain Plus®. You can buy it here. And check out my post here on the pros and cons of juicing, how to get the most benefit from green juice, plus my favorite recipe.
Balanced? Not necessarily, but a great way to get in extra raw veggies.
green veggies + low sugar fruits = healthy carbs + tons of nutrients
 homemade trail mix.
Okay, more of a mixture of mixed nuts, with the occasional bit of dried fruit mixed in, but trail mix just sounds better. My favorite mixture right now is raw walnuts, cashews, almonds and a few unsweetened dried apricots. I get all of my ingredients in the bulk section of my local grocery store. Just remember that a serving of nuts and seeds is about a ¼ cup, so it’s usually best to portion out what you want beforehand to avoid mindlessly digging in to the entire bag.
nuts + seeds = healthy fats + protein + fiber
unsweetened dried fruit = healthy carbs
 grass-fed beef snack sticks + free-range turkey snack sticks.
No MSG. No Nitrates. No Antibiotics. No Hormones. No Sugar. No Red Dye. No Gluten.
These are one of my newest obsessions, and what I love about them most is their quality. Grass-fed beef and free-range turkey is where it’s at. And they come in pre-portioned packages [2 sticks per serving] which provides 10 grams of high quality protein without the preservatives + additives you usually see in snack sticks or jerky. You can order them online here. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Balanced? Not necessarily, but a great low-carb, high protein choice for those of you watching your carbs.
 fresh fruit + nut butter.
Fruit is a very portable and healthy snack. And paired with a little nut butter [almond butter is my fave], it makes a great balanced snack. My favorites paired with almond butter are apples, pears, bananas and berries.
fruit = healthy carbs + fiber
nut butter = healthy fats + protein
 avocado toast.
A slice of healthy whole-grain or gluten-free toast can act as a great “vehicle” for goodies. I like to slather on a little avocado, lemon juice, salt + pepper. But feel free to add some veggies like roasted red peppers or arugula for a tasty treat.
Balanced? Yes. Did you know that a whole avocado contains about 4 grams of protein?
avocado = healthy fats + fiber + protein
gluten-free or whole grain toast = healthy carbs + fiber
If you’re a fan of kale chips or even if you’ve never tried roasting your green veggies, these Brussels sprout chips will knock your socks off! Check out the recipe here.
Balanced? Close. Not high in protein, but still a wonderful + healthy anytime snack.
Brussels sprouts = healthy carbs + fiber + tons of nutrients
olive oil = healthy fats
 veggies + salsa and/or guac.
No explanation needed here. There’s just so much goodness that comes with eating raw veggies. And adding a healthy dip is just the ticket to keep you coming back for more. Eat up!
Balanced? Yes. Again, a whole avocado provides about 4 grams of protein.
veggies = healthy carbs + fiber
salsa = healthy carbs
guacamole = healthy fats + fiber + protein
 homemade organic popcorn.
Please stay away from microwave popcorn. It’s a processed food loaded with chemicals and other unknowns. Making your own popcorn is so easy and so much better for you. I recommend organic corn because corn is a highly genetically modified [GMO] crop. Just add some coconut oil to a large pot [I use this brand and love it], add your kernels and a slightly ajar lid and let the popping begin. This light, crunchy + satisfying snack can be eaten as-is or topped with some nutritional yeast, organic melted butter and/or salt. yum!
organic popcorn = healthy carbs + protein + fiber
coconut oil = healthy fats
 organic hard-boiled eggs.
Eggs are one of nature’s superfoods. And they’re versatile. For snacking, the best way to do eggs is hard-boiled because they’re portable + convenient.
Balanced? Not necessarily, but paired with a piece of fruit or veggies this would be a perfect balanced snack. This is another great snack for those of you watching your carb intake.
whole eggs = protein + healthy fats
 high quality dark-chocolate [70% cacao/cocoa or greater]
I have to admit that this is one of my faves. I love dark chocolate and I’m not afraid to say it 🙂 . Choosing high quality brands with 70% cacao or greater will give you the health benefits without all the added sugar and other mystery ingredients. Some of my favorite brands are: Endangered Species®, Green & Black’s® and a local Seattle company, Theo®.
Balanced? Surprisingly, yes.
dark chocolate = healthy carbs [only 5 grams of sugar per serving] + fiber [4-6 grams per serving] + healthy fats + protein [3-5 grams per serving]
These are delicious. Enough said. Check out this post for the recipe.
chickpeas = healthy carbs + protein + fiber
olive oil = healthy fats
And there you have it! A list of some of my favorite healthy + mostly balanced snacks. What are some of your favorite snacks? Did you try out any of my suggestions? Let me know in the comments below 🙂