Healthy Snack Options

Now that we are resigned to the new ‘normal’ of working from home, I wonder what’s on your shopping list for snacks. Do you go for healthy snack options or grab some chocolate or crisps?

Are you still buying the same bars and biscuits you always have, or are you making healthier (or unhealthier!) choices between meals?

If your kitchen table is doubling up as your office, then it can be tempting to raid the cupboards for a quick pick-me-up, so what’s in your cupboards really matters. If your energy levels, mood and motivation come crashing down around 3pm and you know there are chocolate biscuits in the tin then no level of willpower will help you to ignore them.

If you read my blog regularly, you will know by now that I am not a fan of crazy fad diets, or get-thin-quick plans, so this is not about being on a diet, not about ‘being good’ – this is all about ‘feeling good’.

Why are you so hungry?

When people tell me they need a sugar hit at 3pm, my question is, why? And the answer is somewhere between being hungry and not being able to resist temptation.

If your cravings are getting the better of you, then could it be because you are hungry? Do you eat enough at lunchtime? Lunch should be a main meal, not a skinny little low-calorie snack. We should be eating three main meals a day – and lunch should be around about the same size as dinner.

What do you eat for lunch? Do you eat enough fat, fibre and protein at lunchtime? Fat, fibre and protein help to maintain and sustain blood sugar levels and help to keep us feeling fuller for longer.

Add a drizzle of olive oil or some full-fat houmous to your lunch, pack in the oily fish, nuts or seeds. Switch to whole-grains to up your fibre, or add some pulses to your soups and salads. To pack enough protein, aim for a palm-sized portion of protein like eggs meat, fish, chicken, nuts, seeds, quinoa or pulses.

Healthy snack options

Add a few snack essentials to your shopping list. Choosing a healthy snack can add a little pop of nutrition to your day if chosen wisely. Here are my top 10 super snacks to help super-power your energy levels:

  1. Chopped apple with sugar-free peanut butter
  2. Natural yoghurt and berries
  3. Houmous dippers – carrot sticks, sugar-snap peas, peppers or cucumber
  4. Nuts and seeds – a handful of Brazil nuts, almonds, cashews, pecans, sunflower, pumpkin or sunflower seeds
  5. Chopped pear with cheese
  6. Hard boiled egg
  7. Coconut chips
  8. Oatcakes with almond nut butter
  9. Chocolate! Yes, chocolate – but make sure it is at least 70 per cent cocoa and have with a few Brazil nuts – remember the fat, fibre and protein will maintain and sustain your energy and blood-sugar levels
  10. Smoothies – forget the shop bought, sugar-laden smoothies. This one will help power up your energy and give you a little taste of chocolate without the sugar hit. Cacao packs in plenty of antioxidants and maca is an stress-balancing ingredient – available in the baking or health food section in most supermarkets.

Cacao Maca Smoothie

250ml milk of your choice

2 tblsp cacao powder

2 tsp maca powder

2 dsp cashew or almond nut butter

Pinch of sea salt

A little honey or maple syrup if you need it sweeter (optional )

Method: Simply put all the ingredients in a blender and blitz until smooth.

This blog post first appeared as my column in The Irish News on Saturday 3 October 2020.