I find one of the easiest ways to eat healthily is to have good, nutritious snack options easily available. When you start to feel a bit peckish, it’s all too easy to reach for the most convenient or appealing snack, which may not always be the healthiest. I have found myself in situations where I have ended up eating chocolate simply because I fancy a snack but can’t be bothered to spend half an hour preparing something healthy, rightly or wrongly!
If you have healthy snacks already made up, or options that you can quickly prepare, you are much more likely to make healthy choices when hunger strikes. Taking the effort and decision-making out of it will help you get into the habit of opting for healthy foods. Here are a few of my current favourite snacks that I prepare ahead or whip up when I am hungry, with little effort.
Mixed nuts – rosemary and maple syrup
Nuts have plenty of goodness in them, including vitamins and minerals, healthy fats, fibre and protein. They are also reasonably filling, so they won’t leave you wondering what else you can eat five minutes later. I have been experimenting with herbs and flavours, and my current favourite has to be rosemary and maple syrup. I use a bag of mixed unsalted nuts, toss them in a very light coating of maple syrup and add fresh rosemary. After that, they just need roasting for 10 minutes. You don’t need to use much maple syrup at all, but it’s enough to satisfy sweet cravings. In addition, the fats and protein in the nuts will slow the rate at which the sugar hits your bloodstream.
Granola is another way to satisfy your sweet tooth, but a lot of the varieties in the supermarket contain excessive amounts of sugar. I thought I would experiment with making my own, adding different things each time.
This one contains freeze-dried strawberries, almond and peanut butters, vanilla protein powder, oats, Rice Crispies and a little honey. [The protein powder is not necessary, but it adds a little more flavour and boosts the protein content – can’t complain.] It’s a great recovery snack, and it tastes like a dessert without the unnatural sugars. Tip: swap honey for standard sugar or syrup – it delays the onset of ghrelin, a hunger hormone, and produces a smaller rise in blood sugar levels1.
An even more satiating snack than nuts is an omelette. They are quick to prepare, and eggs are of course incredibly nutritious with their healthy cholesterol, protein, iron and vitamin D. The brilliant thing about omelettes is that you can literally add anything you like. It may look a bit messy, but here I added spinach, spring onions, cherry tomatoes and a little feta cheese.
- Larson-Meyer, D. E., Willis, K. S., Willis, L. M., Austin, K. J., Hart, A. M., Breton, A. B., & Alexander, B. M. (2010). Effect of honey versus sucrose on appetite, appetite-regulating hormones, and postmeal thermogenesis. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 29, 482-493.