I thought it would be a good idea to look at some snack ideas that could easily be incorporated into a healthy eating plan.
We quite often get stuck not knowing which snacks are best and as we know these days it is all too easy to grab a chocolate bar or a biscuit to bridge the gap – foods that have no nutritional value, not very sustainable and will make us hungry again very soon afterwards.
Eating these types of foods will also create wild swings in blood sugar. This is not ideal because it will create internal stress and the release of the stress hormone cortisol.
Too much cortisol released into the body has been shown to deplete the immune system. As we know it is important that our immune systems need to be as strong as possible.
What are good snacks?
Ideally our snacks should be simple, tasty, nutritious and contain some form of protein which has been shown to help keep blood sugar steady and keep us satisfied longer.
Here are some ideas that you could try out;
- Fresh fruit and some unsalted cashew nuts or almonds (these particular nuts are the highest in protein). I know nuts a can be moorish and calorific (not a good idea if you are conscious of your weight) and some people want to know how many is enough. I always say a small amount on the palm of the hand is a good guide.
- Oatcakes or rice cakes spread with a nut butter, hummus or tahini.
You can buy almond nut butter, cashew nut butter and hazelnut butter. These are the preferred options to peanut butter which tends to be high in sugar and salt. Tahini is simple ground sesame seeds. It is one of the ingredients in Hummus and can be found in most large supermarkets. I particularly like the Meridian make as it tends to have a much nicer texture and flavour. You can buy light tahini where the husks have been removed from the sesame seeds or dark tahini where the husks have been left on. This has a stronger flavour.
- A mug of lentil/bean based soup.Homemade is preferred but failing that try to buy a fresh soup from the supermarket avoiding the creamy based varieties which are high in saturated fat, look for the vegetable bean/lentil varieties. Canned soups are very high in salt and the canning process destroys any vitamins in the vegetables so these are best avoided. Similarly the dried sachet varieties would be the same.
- A seed mix, Take more or less equal quantities of pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, mixed with some unsalted cashew nuts and a few unsulphured chopped up dried apricots to add a little natural sweetness.
The unsulphured apricots are the very dark brown variety. The sulphured variety are bright orange. Sulphur dioxide is used as a chemical preservative found mostly in dried fruits and wine. It is used to prevent discolouration of the fruit and the growth of microorganisms. It has been linked to many potential health problems.
- A simple wholemeal cheese scone.
- A bowl of wholegrain unsweetened cereal with milk sprinkled with some berry fruits.
Preferably oat milk, rice milk or almond milk which can all be bought from major supermarkets.
- Natural unsweetened live bio organic yogurt with fresh fruit and sprinkled with seeds.
I like the Yeo valley or Rachel’s variety of natural yogurt. As yogurt is fermented the fermenting process decomposes the growth factor that you find present in standard yogurt and milk.
- Raw vegetable sticks dipped in hummus. You can now buy all sorts of different varieties of hummus like coriander flavour or red onion flavour which ring the changes. Personally I do try and make my own as the shop varieties can be high in salt. Hummus does freeze very well so a batch make and freeze down in pots would be the ideal scenario. But I am aware that we do live in the real world and we do not always have the time or energy so supermarket varieties are handy.
- ½ a ripe avocado mashed and spread on oatcakes or a slice of whole grain bread toasted and sprinkled with a little lemon juice. Absolutely delicious.
Avocados have twice the potassium content of bananas and as we know potassium creates alkalinity in the body. They are also rich in the essential fatty acids that help to reduce bad cholesterol.
- A fruit smoothie with 1 tablespoon of ground almonds added. This could be any 3 or 4 pieces of fruit of your choice. The ground almonds add the all essential protein to prevent the concentration of Fructose from the fruit making blood sugar go high.
Finally I want to share a recipe with you
Chocolate crunches. (adapted from ‘The Secrets of 100% Health Cook Book’
by Patrick Holford and Fiona McDonald
This recipe has a Glycaemia Load of 8 which is very low despite the fact that it contains chocolate. Give it a go, it is really simple to make and It does freeze.
200g/7oz dark chocolate 70% cocoa solids broken into chunks.
125g/4oz rough oatcakes.
50g/2oz goji berries
50g/2oz broken walnut pieces.
50g/2oz pumpkin seeds.
2 tsps mixed spice.
1 tsp ground cinnamon.
50g 2oz cashew nut butter or unsalted peanut butter.
- Melt the chocolate in a heat proof bowl over a pan of simmering water.
- Crumble the oatcakes into a mixing bowl and add the nuts, seeds, berries and spices.
- Once the chocolate has melted stir in the nut butter till well mixed and smooth. Add all the other dry ingredients and mix really well to make sure that everything is well coated.
- Spread the mixture evenly onto a baking tray covered with a piece of baking parchment. Put in the fridge to set or freeze straight away.
Blog originally written by Caroline Sept 2012