Forget unhealthy snack attacks
From demanding work schedules and family commitments, we can end up choosing the stuff that tastes good but may not be so good for our waistlines.
Well, you don't have to fall into the pre-packaged unhealthy food trap. We've pulled together some top tip on how to fuel up and discover healthy food choices to keep you satisfied between meals.
When there isn’t time for a proper meal, aim to get a snack rich in protein. Known as the muscle-building component of our diet, protein is digested much slower than carbohydrates which means it keeps blood sugar steady, keep cravings at bay and helps you feel fuller for longer. The result is you're less likely to over-eat and can live a healthier lifestyle.
Protein can be found in a number of foods but here are some of our top picks.
Hard boiled eggs
6 grams protein per egg
Portable, easy to prep and convenient, a boiled egg is a natural protein-rich snack, these edible orbs keep for days in the fridge so you can boil enough for a few days at the same time.
Most nutritionists today agree that eggs are a good choice for breakfast or a snack when enjoyed in moderation. With only 80-90 calories per egg plus a good source of vitamin D and vitamin B12, eggs are considered to be nutrient-dense. Indeed, food outlets and supermarkets sell hard-boiled eggs as snacks (sometimes packed with spinach or edamame) so you can save even more time on preparation.
17 grams of protein per 150 grams
Add to your stir fry or eat cold from the pod, edamame beans are a tasty and healthy snack. Hailing from East Asia, you can buy them fresh and steam for about 6 minutes, or use the pre-cooked frozen variety (they take about 2 minutes to defrost in the microwave.)
As well as being high in protein, edamame beans are also high in fibre, low in calories and count as one of your five-a-day. Add a crunch to your dish by choosing dry roasted edamame, which has even more protein per gram or for a little extra heat, try wasabi flavoured. You may be concerned about genetically modified soya beans so look out for edamame that's certified organic.
Nuts are high in protein, fibre, and healthy fats, plus with low preparation to make these a suitable snack to keep you going. A word of warning though: nuts may be small but they are also calorie-dense and you could be eating large amounts of calories without even realising it. Put simply, watch your portions, particularly if you are looking to lose weight.
When it comes to protein content, reach for almonds and pistachios. Again, be mindful about your portion size as 14 almonds provide around 100 calories and an ounce of shelled pistachios contain about 160 calories. Go for in-shell pistachios, as the extra work of shelling the nuts can stop overconsumption by up to 41 percent according to scientists at Eastern Illinois University.
Beef or Turkey Jerky
9 grams of protein per average pack
Jerky (beef or turkey) makes a great snack choice because it's low in fat, lean and savoury. The chewy texture means it takes longer to eat so your mouth will be occupied for longer.
A one ounce serving (the size of most single-serve packs) contains about 9 grams of protein or around a fifth of your daily amount of protein. Choose brands that are low in sodium, natural or lightly flavoured.
9 grams of protein
Often thought of as a kid’s lunch box snack, string cheese and other portioned cheeses such as The Laughing Cow Wedges or Mini Babybels are also good for grown-ups. Why not try them with fruit? (see below).
Fruit and Vegetables
When it comes to Mother Nature’s stock of ready-made foods, fruit and vegetables ought to get a design award. Low-calorie and high-fibre, these snack options require little or no preparation. If you feel your selection is limited to the obvious apples, pears, bananas and grapes to avoid messy hands and peeling, you can opt for dehydrated fruits, bags of mangos, pineapples and guava to name just a few.
Pre-cut vegetables such as baby carrots and celery sticks are easy to carry in a plastic bag or container for a trip to the park. Fruit and veg can be paired with a high protein option like cheese or nut butter to make them a more substantial snack.
Whole food energy bars
Energy bars are high in protein, good at satisfying hunger and providing energy. Unfortunately, many of the pre-made ones can be full of added sugar plus other ingredients that are not so beneficial for a healthy lifestyle. Not to mention they can also be quite costly. Check labels for ingredients to ensure that you are making healthy choices when selecting an energy bar.
Alternatively, you can make them yourself. Many recipes are quick, require no baking, and can be prepared in bulk and kept frozen for a later date. If you’d like to give it a try, below is a recipe for a no-cook Quinoa Coconut-Cacao Bar.
Recipe: Quinoa Coconut-Cacao Bar
- 6 Tbsp coconut oil
- 2 Tbsp coconut butter
- 4 heaping Tbsp of raw cacao* powder/regular unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 Tbsp of maple syrup
- A pinch of salt
- 1 cup Puffed Quinoa Cereal
- ¼ cup cranberries
- ¼ cup pistachios
- Melt together the coconut oil, coconut butter, raw cacao and maple syrup.
- Add the pinch of salt and stir in the quinoa, cranberries and pistachios.
- Pour into a lined loaf pan and chill until set.
- Cut into squares/rectangles when set.
*Raw Cacao Powder-is high in antioxidants and magnesium.
This information in this article has been provided courtesy of Technogym