Since the new year I have really been stepping up my snack game. Also, I am well aware that I sound like a young child when I say it is time for my snack.
I HATE having to go to the vending machine in the afternoon and get something that is usually overpriced. Not to mention that all of the options are processed foods!
What I mean by processed food is food with ingredients that I can’t pronounce. Processed food is meant to be non-perishable and last long in a vending machine. In order to do this, food companies have to strip nutrition from the food and fill it with ingredients like grain, salt, and sugar.
Not to say that you can’t treat yourself to candy or chips once in awhile, but I find when you don’t plan ahead, you make the unhealthy option easier every single day. Think about it, how often do we really chose the over-ripe piece of fruit from the coffee shop instead of a muffin?
The vending machine option is most likely going to have refined carbs and sugars with a high glycemic index, meaning that will give you a huge blood sugar spike. When this happens combined with the 2:30 in the afternoon feeling, will make you lethargic and sleepy. So even though you just had a little bag of Doritos (that just left you wanting more), those carbs are going to hit you quick! This means your body is going to have to release a huge amount of insulin to try and compensate.
The goal for my snacks is not low carb or no carb, but these types of foods keep my energy up for the day. Also when I am concentrated on being hungry I am so much less productive. The snacks that I recommend are packed with nutrition that your body will thrive on. These snacks are appealing on the go options that are also fresh, I don’t really eat “bars” that often. Overall if you snack on the food that you body needs you will feel satiated longer, and you can work productively until your next meal. The bag of skittles or starbursts gives no one a good feeling of satiation.
There are so many blog reads that detail fancy meal prepped snack or cute vegan recipes. When I pack a snack I can’t afford to add more than a minute or two to my routine. I can barely meal prep for dinner as it is, so the simpler the better.
Pistachios: Really any nuts make a great snack. I personally buy unsalted pistachios, I love the taste and without the salt they do not dry out your mouth. Pistachios also have a significant amount of B6 and phosphorus which your body and energy levels will thank you for.
**Believe it or not it is difficult to find grocery stores that sell nuts that are left unsalted. The best place I have found to buy unsalted nuts is Aldi, and they aim to have the best prices.
Babybel Cheese: Another snack I love to have is a small serving of cheese. In particular I like Babybel cheeses, they each have 10 grams of protein and 6 grams of fat (which is not bad for you, your body uses this as energy) you can find the nutrition here. This little cheese will not disrupt your digestive system, and will actually keep your body satiated. And I have to mention I love peeling of the wax off of Babybels.
Bone Broth: This is really trendy in the health community right now, but for good reason. If you don’t already know all the benefits of bone broth, (you can read more about the bone broth skepticism here) the collagen in it is said to be beneficial for joints, inflammation and immunities.
Even if there isn’t the research to back up such miraculous claims, I love drinking plain warm bone broth out of a tumbler. I noticed wellness instagramers drinking it and at first it seemed kind of wild. But I have to tell you, it is so savory and I love drinking it while i’m eating something sweet like my next snack pick…
Green Apple Slices: Fruit is a great snack, but choosing your fruit wisely is important. Green apples have pectin which is a type of fiber that the body loves, and although they are not going to create a large spike in your blood sugar like a banana or honey crisp apple would.
I find that I eat more of the apple into the “core” when I slice it up. If you are going to be eating your apple slices later in the afternoon and want to keep them fresh and not going brown, my pinterest trick is to slice the apple and then assemble it back together like puzzle pieces. Once you have done that, put a rubber band around it, and keep it in a cold place. I was amazed at how fresh my apple slices stayed when first trying this.
Sweet Potatoes: I have noticed nutritionists love sweet potatoes. In Okinawa Japan, one of the Blue Zones (areas with most 100-year-olds living) one of the factors of their longevity was during WWII with little food, they lived on a diet of their main viable crop, orange sweet potatoes. (To learn more about the Okinawans I highly recommend reading Blue Zones by Dan Buettner or go here).
Sweet potatoes as an on the go snack?
Yes they are so easy to make and store for the next day! You can make them as a baked potato, peel the skin and mash with a little butter and cinnamon. Or if you prefer, you can peel and dice them and cook them with coconut oil and sea salt. I have been known to eat them cold out of a tupperware midafternoon.
Blueberry Smoothie: Not much to say about this one, blueberries are great for you and taste amazing with a high fiber amount that will prevent a blood sugar spike. Mix in you favorite greens, plain yogurt and maybe even try to substitute a avocado for a banana.
Lifeway Kefir Cup: I just discovered these recently at my local hyvee. Kefir is incredibly good for you gut health, and props to Lifeway for making it with no added sugar! Sub this for that basic yogurt cup that is full of sugar and even artificial sweeteners.
Okay, and my last selection is really for fellow sweet tooths that also deserve a little treat for eating the healthy part of their snack first. This one isn’t actually a snack that avoids a blood sugar spike, but keep in mind moderation is important. Girl Scout Cookies: I have a policy that the first student that asks me to buy a box of Girl Scout Cookies gets my order. So this year a student I work with asked me and I got my favorite Caramel Delights. We are all human and deserve to indulge, what helps me is if I take them out of the box and portion them into two at a time in ziploc bags. This way they last longer and I don’t accidentally eat the whole box in one sitting.
What’s your afternoon snack? What helps you avoid the sugar spike and energy crash in the afternoon? Comment below to let me know!
**Note I do not have a formal nutritionist background, just a wannabe.