Updated: Oct 8, 2020
Eating healthily doesn't mean that you have to totally ditch your snacks. In fact, its far from it. Depending on a client's goals, I might recommend that they include one or possibly two snacks daily - even if weight loss is their primary goal.
For some, a well-timed and healthy snack can play a vital role in balancing blood sugar levels whilst, for others, it's a key part of refuelling their body part post training sessions. For all of us, it can be another opportunity to top up our intake of healthy nutrients, fibre and even helping to meet our 5-a-day target!
There is absolutely no quicker way to sabotage a healthy eating pattern than by allowing ourselves to feel deprived and hungry. The real challenge, therefore, is not avoiding snacks, it's choosing the heathier options. Typically, we should be seeking out whole-food choices - fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, dairy and wholegrains and, preferably, including a protein source that can help keep us to feel full throughout the day. By staying satiated in this way, we can also limit our cravings for unhealthier food options.
Some of my favourite snacks include:
Mixed nuts and fruit - a balance of protein, healthy fat, fibre, vitamins and minerals for a healthy snack.
Apple wedges with almond butter or wholegrain peanut butter - provides protein, energy-giving carbohydrate, fibre, healthy fats and micro nutrients. Use approx. 1 tablespoon of nut butter per apple.
Banana with almond butter or wholegrain peanut butter - particularly good choice for keeping your sweet cravings at bay, bananas contain plenty of fibre so the natural sugars won’t give you the energy rush and crash that sweets would do. Great potassium source too!
A small bowl of soup - just perfect on a winter's day. It's so easy, too, to make a little extra soup to have some snack portions saved in the fridge or freezer.
Natural or Greek yogurt with berries and seeds - a good balance of macronutrients. bursting with vitamins and minerals and tastes deliciously creamy and sweet.
Vegetable sticks with a hummus or guacamole dip - your pick of raw veggies (I love carrot, celery, sweet peppers and courgette) with a shop bought or homemade dip. Simultaneously crunchy and creamy with masses of fibre and anti-oxidants!
And, for when I'm looking for something to have with a glass of wine and friends (because it's all about the balance!), these crisp and salted peanut replacements are hard to beat!
Roasted chickpeas - a delicious plant protein snack and really great for those times when you're when you're socialising. Much better than crisps, check out the recipe below.
Cinnamon Crunch Pumpkin Seeds - a little bit sticky and a whole lot delicious. Definitely not one for everyday but this one's a great alternative to your toffee popcorn.
2 tins chickpeas
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
2-4 tsp spices or finely chopped fresh herbs
Heat the oven to 200°C/390°F/Gas Mark 6.
Drain the chickpeas and rinse thoroughly under running water before patting dry with a clean dishcloth or paper towels. Remove any loose skins. The chickpeas should feel totally dry to the touch.
Toss the chickpeas with olive oil and salt, ensuring they are evenly coated and spread them chickpeas in an even layer onto a baking tray.
Roast the chickpeas for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring or shaking the tray every 10 minutes. You'll know they're done when they turn a dark golden colour.
If using spices (try chilli powder, smoked paprika, curry powder, garam masala, cumin, rosemary, thyme, or your favourite spices and herbs), sprinkle over the chickpeas and stir to coat evenly.
Serve the chickpeas while still warm and crispy. Note, when cooler, they lose their crispiness but are still make for a tasty, albeit more chewy, snack.
Cinnamon Crunch Pumpkin Seeds
60g pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
1 1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp sea salt
Heat the oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas Mark 2.
Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix well before spreading across the lined baking tray.
Roast for 30 minutes, stirring half way through. They will turn golden brown.
Break into pieces when cool.