If, like me, you can’t help snacking in the office, or you have young children and need an ever ready supply of “treats” for hungry little monsters mouths, you’ll be interested in recent research on the impact of snacking habits.
Research done recently suggests that snacking now accounts for up to 25% of our daily calorie intake, and indicated that more and more people even skip meals, opting instead to “graze” on snacks frequently during the day – and not only here in Spain where tapas often replace a big meal.
Some of the findings suggested this might be a good thing – grazing all day on healthy snacks often indicates lower long-term additional body fat. But the research also found that for many of us, snacks don’t count. When researchers measured the perceived food intake as opposed to actual intake, people being studied often didn’t record or “count” the calories they consumed as snacks or on-the-go.
We’ve come a fairly long way from the old three square meals a day mentality. But if we are going to accept that snacking is going to become an even bigger part of the way we eat, it’s worth setting aside the biscuits and being more pragmatic in our snacking choices.
Snack Your Mix Up.
When I’m food shopping, I tend to think mainly about meals. What’s for dinner tonight? What breakfast staples are we running low on? But of course when I’m peckish in the afternoon at the office, I probably won’t whip up a vegetable lasagna.
Stocking up on a few basics and stashing them in your bag or desk drawer is a great way to avoid popping into a café or bakery for a croissant or cake.
Here are a few things you could stock up on to keep snacking healthy and tasty:
1. Get fruity
So hands down the king of snacks is the apple. Or any fruit really. Think about it: all-natural, healthy and delicious and they come in biodegradable, beautiful natural packaging for ease of transport.
I always have an apple at the bottom of my bag for #snackmergencies (yes that’s a word. Probably.) They travel well, and give you a great little boost. Oranges are, truly, not the only fruit. Change it up seasonally, going up the apple and pears and occasionally into the banana boat.
2. Be a nutcase
Nuts provide a quick and tasty dose of good fats and protein. A good idea is to buy mixed nuts or mix them yourself – I like almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, pistachios and walnuts – and mix them with seeds and some raisins.
Think of this as a more modern, upscale version of trail or party mix. Remember those? Remember to go easy on the nuts though. A small handful is plenty.
3. Egg yourself on
A friend once told me about her (rather stereotypical latin) mother chasing her down the road as she headed for the school bus holding out a hard boiled egg and proclaiming that she would need it for protein. And the señora was correct.
A boiled egg is a simple, beautiful solution to snacking. Easy to prepare, lasts all week (if you do a batch), and easy to embellish. Salt and pepper is the beginners’ game, but team an egg with a smear of pesto or mustard, a slice of ham, or almost anything and it’s a great snack.
4. Be a master baker
Ok maybe not a master baker. How about no baking baking? I love super simple recipes and one I like is a five-ingredient snack bar. It’s vegan, it’s really healthy, it’s delicious, and it’s easy and fun to make (especially for kids).
Here’s a good recipe, and there are many similar ones knocking around the internet. Play around and customize it especially for you.
Bringing Sexy Snack
Now you’ve got a drawer full of go-to snacks, you’re ready to take it to the next level. When a handful of nuts won’t cut it, try one of these quick, healthy options and be the envy of the office.
1. Hummus and carrots (or celery)
This may be getting closer to lunch for some people, but I think it qualifies as a substantial snack. Cut up some carrots and/or celery into small batons, and make a think small better with snacks! big tub of hummus you can dip into whenever you need to. I like to experiment with hummus – beetroot is great, or even avocado – and it lasts a while.
2. Date nuts with sea salt
If you have access to nice juicy dates (here in Spain they are readily available), get some, and some walnuts and/or cashews and a box of sea salt. Slice the dates down the middle and squeeze a nut or two inside. A tiny pinch of salt on top and you have a sweet, salty, high fibre snack with some healthy fats to get you through the afternoon.
3. Cottage cheese with berries and cinnamon
This is such a great mid-morning snack. A bowl of cottage cheese (or greek yogurt) topped with blueberries, raspberries (or any berries, or even nuts, especially almond) and cinnamon. If you’re really peckish, put it all on a couple of brown rice crackers. Yum!
We are really lucky in Spain to have access to great natural ingredients, and of course tapas culture has long championed grazing over big meals.
What’s your top tip for snacking? Share it with me in the comments below and we can include it in one of our future posts.