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Healthy Snacks To Buy And Make
How can snacks contribute to a balanced diet? Live Green & Good finds out...
If you’re always grazing between meals, you’re not alone! We love a good snack here at Live Green & Good, but that constant munching often leaves us wondering whether we’re choosing the healthiest options.
Snacking can be part of a balanced diet, providing energy and nutrients, and helping us to avoid overeating at mealtimes. However, it’s important to choose healthy options in order to avoid consuming too many calories and to steer clear of that dreaded post-sugar slump. One of the worst culprits is mindless grazing, according to Rochelle Odubela, director of LanaRoc Healthy Bites: “Some of us snack even when we’re not hungry, just to enjoy the taste. Plus, it’s unhealthy to snack on foods that are high in sugar, such as chocolate bars and sweets.”
So before you open up that magical snack drawer (we know you have one!), consider whether you’re actually hungry, and monitor how many snacks you’re eating during the day. If you’re snacking several times, you may need to rethink your main meals. Speaking of that snack drawer, it’s worth checking what you actually keep in it, and removing unhealthy options that could prove to be too tempting when boredom or hunger strikes. Check the labels for saturated fat, salt, and sugar content, as well as the calories. If you replace these snacks with healthier alternatives, it could help you add more variety to your diet, according to nutritionist Sian Porter, who’s teamed up with California Walnuts to promote healthy snacking: “Rather than focusing on single nutrients, what’s important is the overall quality of your diet and the range, variety, frequency, and amounts of different foods you eat that provide the energy and nutrients needed for growth and a healthy, active life.”
To discourage you from reaching for crisps or chocolate, snacks should be portable and easy to consume. “Maintaining a healthy everyday diet is not always easy,” Rochelle says. “We all want to be healthier, but we’re often too busy to spend time preparing healthy foods. Pick simple solutions that can be part of your ‘typical day’ routines. For example, if you love porridge but don’t have time to make it, you can replace it with a more convenient option like an oat-based snack. If you like to munch on high-fibre snacks to give you energy throughout the day, then choose those.”
Don’t forget about drinks, either: you could be consuming more calories than you realise if you’re knocking back store-bought smoothies, coffee-flavoured beverages and packaged juices. And most importantly, be sure to plan ahead. If you know you’re going to be out and about all day, take a few healthy snacks with you, and avoid buying less nutritious snacks altogether, so you won’t have any temptations.
5 SUPER SNACKS: reboot your snack drawer with these simple swaps…
GO AU NATURAL: Fruits and vegetables make perfect snacks, so consider easy-to-eat options such as celery, bananas, grapes, oranges, or even dried fruit. Or why not try Nakd’s Blueberry Muffin Bar: a gluten- and dairy-free snack packed with fruit and nuts? £0.75, Sainsbury’s
TAKE A DIP: If you can plan ahead, cut up some crudités to eat with cottage cheese or hummus. We love ChicP’s Beetroot & Horseradish Hummus made from surplus veg. £1.49, ocado.com
FUEL UP: Rice cakes with nut butter, a bagel with low-fat cheese spread, and plain popcorn are great for fuel and fibre. Give Popcorn Shed’s Mini Pop! Sea Salt Mini Popcorn a go. £0.99, Selfridges
PACK IN THE PROTEIN: To add a bit of extra protein between meals, turn to a small handful of nutrient-dense walnuts, a boiled egg, or baked chickpeas.
GET CREATIVE: If you have more time, why not make your own cereal bars with oats, a nut butter, and mixed nuts or seeds? You could also make popcorn with a sprinkle of flavourings like smoked paprika or cinnamon, and even baked fruit or vegetable crisps.