June 2014 Newsletter: Snack Attack!

"The world belongs to those with the most energy". Alexis de Tocqueville

There’s no denying that everyone, at one time or another, has had a snack attack. Some think snacking between meals can lead to weight gain. Others believe that eating many small meals and snacks throughout the day is healthy for maintaining energy levels and optimal weight. I think there is no right way to snack. What works for me may not work for you and vice-versa.

If you do snack during the day, or the night, it is a good idea to try and understand why you are snacking. Perhaps because your daily diet is missing nutrition or because you are eating too little at meals or maybe because you want to relieve stress, anxiety, or boredom. Whatever your reasons, acknowledge them and start thinking about how to snack in healthier ways that can still be satisfying.

Although snacking is no substitute for emotional and psychological balance and for living a full life, it can be a great energy booster, so it is also a good idea to figure out what snacks work best for your body. Many convenient, packaged snack foods are highly processed and full of chemicals, additives, damaging fats, and refined sugars. So when a snack attack hits you, keep foods at hand that are satiating but also nutritious.

Here are some healthy snack ideas:

  • Snack on things like fresh fruit – things that don’t come in a plastic wrapper or a box.

  • Make your own signature dried fruit (unsweetened raisins, cranberries, dates, or figs) and unsalted nut mix.

  • Make hummus or bean dip with chickpeas or just about any bean (try this easy black bean dip recipe and enjoy with one slice of whole wheat bread or a handful of chopped, raw veggies like celery, cucumber, or brocolli. (The dip can be kept in the fridge for 4-5 days.)

You can also try “upgrading” your snacks:

  • If you are craving something crunchy, upgrade from potato chips to raw carrots, apples, or whole grain crackers.

  • If you are craving something sweet, instead of flavored sweetened yogurt, upgrade to plain yogurt with fresh fruits like banana or mango, or a 1-2 oz piece of 70%+ dark chocolate.

  • If you are craving a chilled sweet drink, instead of sweetened soda, upgrade to iced green tea or carbonated water with a twist of lemon and honey.

Upgraded snacks can be high in nutrition and flavor to give you a greater sense of satiety and satisfaction; you won’t feel physically or psychologically deprived, and you’ll have plenty of energy to sustain your activities for hours. Snacking is enjoyable, and you can find a wide variety of healthful goodies for whatever you’re craving, be it sweet, crunchy, salty, creamy, or spicy. So dive in, be creative, and enjoy your snack attack.

And with summer around the corner, what better way to fulfil your desire for sweet stuff than to eat raw fruit! Fruit in the form of juice is good only in small amounts; too much fruit juice rapidly raises blood sugar levels, leading to an energy crash soon after. So it's better to eat freshly made juice than juice out of a can or carton. Frozen, whole, puréed, or juiced fruit can make great summertime cool-down treats.

Recipe of the Month: Fruit Nut Smoothie

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Yield: 2 servings

1/2 banana (I don't like my smoothie too sweet)
1 cup soy, coconut, or almond milk
1 cup berries (I used 1/2 cup each of strawberries and blueberries)
1 cup diced mango when in season (or melon)
1/c cup unsalted almonds or cashews
1 Tsp cinnamon and a pinch of ground nutmeg

Mix all the ingredients in a blender with 2-4 ice cubes for 1-2 minutes.
Add other ingredients for a super nutrition boost such as flaxseed powder (flaxmeal) and raw honey.