Healthy eating habits should include snacks.  Snacking between meals gives your body the boost of energy it needs during the day, can reduce cravings and prevent overeating at regular meals. The key is to skip the junk and choose ‘good-to-you’ foods that also satisfy what you need/want at that time. 

Have you ever grabbed whatever was handy, scarfed it down and found yourself looking for something else because you were still hungry or that item did not hit the spot? I have – many many times.   Mindless eating adds to the hips.  Before snacking, I’ve learned to briefly pause and determine my wants/needs.  Am I starving and need something to hold me?  Am I craving salty, crunchy, creamy?  Is it that reoccurring time when only sweet will do? Do I need something quick and easy or am I at a point where I want to eat and eat and eat so a lot of hand to mouth action would help?   That quick self-check points to the right snack – usually one of the following tried and trues.  BTW – I don’t count food (calories, fat grams, points etc), but guesstimate my snacks to range between 90-300 calories. 

Grab and Go Snack: Almonds and Dried Fruit.  Great combination of protein, fat and carbs; rich and crunchy, chewy and sweet.  Almonds are a good source of protein, fiber, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals including calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. The dried fruit, (black/golden raisins, dried cranberries or dried cherries), provides a concentrated source of vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, anti-oxidants and a wonderful sweet/tart-ness. Almonds and dried fruit are calorie dense, so portion control must be exercised.  I stick to a palm full in a small condiment bowl when home or baggie when on the go and eat it slowly, one piece at a time. Yum!

USDA My Plate Snack: Fresh Fruit and Something.   Fresh fruit: Some call it God-made candy. Vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, high water content, low energy density – just plain good and good for you.   I love fruit, but – fruit alone does not hold me.  I have to have it with something that has protein and/or fat.   My favorite combinations include apples  and peanut butter, pears and a piece of sharp cheddar or other hard cheese and strawberries with a bit of dark chocolate.

Indulgent Snack:  GOOD Chocolate and Herbal Tea.   Sometimes I just feel the need to go there.  I thoroughly enjoy chocolate and when my hormones take their regular dip and dive I crave it.  Milk chocolate products are like crack for me so I go for the dark – and as with many things, the darker the better (wink, wink, smile).  Dark chocolate has cocoa phenols known to lower blood pressure, flavonoids which act like antioxidants, reservaeratrol, (also found in red wine and grapes), a powerful antioxidant that protects the body from heart disease, and cacao a precursor to neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin, chemicals associated with feelings of well-being and happiness. See! The right chocolate can make you happy!  An added bonus is that the rich flavor profile of good dark chocolate makes it hard to scarf.  It begs to be savored.  Add to this a cup of herbal tea and you’ve got a delectable double dose of antioxidants.  Of the supermarket variety, I’m really digging the Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt Caramel.  The mixture of rich, sweet and salt is on!   Otherwise, I go to WholeFoods and pick up something exotic.

Starvin like Marvin Snack: Raw Veges, Crackers, Pepper Jelly and Laughing Cow Cheese. This one is a standby at times when I am ravenous but know it will be a while before I will have a nutritious full meal.  It works because it is whole lotta stuff on the plate, without a lot of calories.  It also has a variety of textures (crunchy, crisp, smooth, juicy), flavors (hot, mild, sweet, salty) and it requires assembly work and eating it allows for the 20 minutes for my brain to realize I have given my body some food.  I try to use veges that are in season but cucumbers sprinkled with sea salt and cherry/grape tomatoes or raw broccoli are almost always in my frig and thus on the plate. 

Great Nutrition in a Glass Snack: Shakeology  This ultra protein shake is the business!  It has been called “ the healthiest meal of the day”.  Made from over 70 whole food ingredients, each shakeology provides proteins, amino acids, antioxidants, phytonutrients, adaptogens, prebiotics and digestive enzymes to repair and strengthen our bodies from a cellular level.  It nourishes, sticks with me and curbs cravings.  On days when I know getting to healthy foods will be a challenge, I’ll make a half shakeology as a snack.  Currently, my favorite combo is ½ packet of Greenberry Shakeology, crushed ice, vanilla lite soymilk, and a frozen banana, blended and served with a light dusting of freshly grated nutmeg.   It tastes like a gourmet milk shake with the nutrition of an amazingly well built salad.

This is my fav five.  What snacks are on regular rotation with you?

Happy Snacking!

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