Snacking with a Purpose
If you’re on a journey to better nutrition, you’ve likely found yourself at a standstill at one point or another. Maybe you’ve mastered meals: you’re eating breakfasts with more protein, and you’re adding color to your lunch and dinner plates. You’ve cut back on the alcohol and started meal prepping. You would say your nutrition is going well…except for one habit you just can’t seem to control: snacking.
If you’re like me, you don’t find it hard to down a bag of chips in one sitting. Or maybe your coworker has that bowl of M&M’s on her desk that you can’t stay away from. Or you’re constantly in a rush carting your kids around, so you’re grabbing packaged snacks left and right.
I hear this stuff from clients every day. We all struggle with it. Snacking seems to be the piece of nutrition everyone is stuck on. And there’s a reason snacking is the hardest aspect of nutrition to change: Most of us know how we should balance meals, but since snacking lacks that structure, we’re not sure where it fits into the big picture of providing our bodies with nutrients. So we snack merely out of craving and convenience, and consequently, we usually grab foods that leave our bodies energy-depleted and hungry again an hour later. It’s a cycle, and a lot of us are stuck.
It’s unrealistic (and probably unhealthy) to cut out snacking completely. Science is telling us more and more that restriction, psychologically, doesn’t work long-term. So if you’re going for a sustainable change, I’m a huge promoter of the replacement method instead. The idea is to identify the foods to which you usually fall prey, and give yourself alternatives that are equally enjoyable (or at least close), convenient, and nutrient-dense. Snack prepping for the next day allows you to foresee and overcome weaknesses.
With this in mind, here are some snack recipes that have helped me get unstuck from the snacking cycle – and all of them have less than 10 minutes of prep time:
- Curry roasted chick peas
A great replacement for chips. They have that same satisfying crunch, and they are low in carb and high in protein.
- Drain, dry, and dump a can of chick peas into a bowl.
- Coat with olive oil and pour onto a baking sheet lined with foil.
- Bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes or until crispy.
- Once cool, pour back into bowl and coat with 1 tsp salt, 1-2 tsp curry powder, and ½ tsp paprika. 1 can makes 2-3 snack-sized servings.
2. Parsnip fries
Do you love French fries? Would you believe me that these are just as good, if not better (and I love French fries)? Parsnips are underrated vegetables that look like white carrots and can be found in the Kroger produce section. Although you wouldn’t guess it by looking at them, they make fantastic fries.
- Cut 2-3 parsnips long-ways and spread them out on a baking sheet with foil.
- Brush with 1 tbsp olive oil, then sprinkle with 1-2 tsp salt, 1 tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp parsley, ½ tsp rosemary and ½ tsp thyme.
- Bake at 425 for 15 minutes or until crispy.
3. Dark Chocolate Dipped Bananas
If you usually gravitate toward the sweet snacks, try this easy recipe instead of succumbing to the temptation to reach for the bag of chocolate chips.
- Slice 3 bananas into bite-sized pieces.
- Place ¼ cup coconut oil in a saucepan and heat on low until melted.
- Take off heat and stir in 1/3 cup of pure maple syrup and 6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder until blended.
- Using a tooth pick, dip banana slices one at a time in the chocolate, and set them on a plate.
- Coat in shredded coconut or chopped nuts (optional).
- Store in freezer until ready to eat.
4. Turmeric Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are high in protein, omega-3’s, iron and other important minerals. Turmeric is known to fight inflammation. The result? An excellent recovery snack, and easy to bring to work, school, or the gym.
- Melt 1 tbsp butter in a saucepan on medium-low.
- Add 1 tsp turmeric and 1 tsp curry powder and cook for 1 minute while stirring.
- Turn off the heat and stir in 2 tbsp honey and ½ tsp salt.
- Pour in 2 cups raw, shelled pepitas and stir to coat.
- Spread on foil-covered baking sheet and roast at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
These are just a few of the recipes that I’ve swapped in for snacks that weren’t making me feel good or preform optimally. I have many more up my sleeve, so feel free to ask me for ideas and let me know what you think of these. I’m also in the process of creating a recipe book for myself and my friends (one of my future projects), so if you have any healthy, convenient snack recipes of your sleeve, please send them my way. Happy snacking!