With these around, I never feel deprived or guilty.
There was a time when I baked incessantly. Every evening after my kids went to bed, I'd be in the kitchen, making ginger snaps, brownies, lemon pound cake, and apple crisp. This meant that the house was always full of treats and, since I work from home, these treats made their way into my belly on a very regular basis – between every article I wrote, in fact.
It was a tasty habit, but a bad one, and I soon realized it had to change. I swapped out my weeknight baking for evening reading, which has the added benefit of making me smarter (I hope!), as well as healthier. But I couldn't just stop eating altogether; I needed to fill that snack void with other, better options. Especially because of my fairly rigorous CrossFit training, I have to make a conscious effort to eat enough throughout the day to support those workouts.So, over the past few months, I have learned to stock my kitchen in such a way that I never feel deprived when the snacking urge hits. I have found foods that satisfy my sweet and salty cravings between meals, while providing far more nutritional value than the baked goods of my past did. Here's what I always keep on hand.
1. Crunchy apples
I eat all kinds of fruit, but there's something about a tart, crisp apple that seems utterly perfect at all times. I choose these, too, because they're Ontario-grown and a more sustainable choice in the cold season. (I gorge myself on berries and stone fruits in summer.) I have 1-2 apples every afternoons, eaten plain or dipped in nut butter.
2. Nut butter
Peanut or almond butter are my favorites. I buy other butters like hazelnut and cashew when they go on sale. These provide the fat-filled pick-me-up that I crave late in the day, and they go well with apple slices and bananas. Often, if I'm hungry, I eat a few spoonfuls straight from the jar.
3. Dried coconut, figs, and dates
When a sugar craving hits hard, all I need to satisfy it is a few pieces of dried coconut. The Thai Young Coconut by H&H is my favorite, chewy and sweet, yet not overwhelmingly so. (I have found other brands to be sickeningly sweet.) Figs and dates are other small yet energy-packed bites that don't take much to satisfy. Often I'll combine these with a handful of nuts.
4. Tortilla chips and popcorn
I avoid buying potato chips because I'll inhale the entire bag in minutes. A better option is tortilla chips with spicy salsa, which I thoroughly enjoy but will not eat at the same breakneck speed as potato chips. Similarly, stove-top popcorn tossed with butter and a generous sprinkling of nutritional yeast is a lighter yet highly delicious nighttime snack.
5. High-fat yogurt
The higher the fat content, the better. I love Liberté yogurt, one of which has 10% fat. (I avoid flavored varieties, adding fruit and a dash of maple syrup if I want it.) A few spoonfuls of this satisfied me instantly, or I mix with granola.
6. Bell peppers
I eat a wide range of vegetables, but whenever I feel like nibbling, I don't want to waste time on prep. Bell peppers are so fast to wash and slice, I end up reaching for them frequently, usually eating one per day. I stock up on red, orange, and yellow, since I already eat a lot of green veggies at mealtimes.
This has to be the greatest snack ever. I dip my bell peppers and crackers in it, or eat it by the spoonful to combat any growling in my stomach. I try to make it from scratch whenever I have time, but I usually buy it, too, just to be sure I don't run out.
8. Seed crackers
I love Mary's Organic Crackers, made with brown rice, quinoa, and seeds. They're not cheap, so whenever they go on sale, I stock up on a few boxes. They're a perfect mid-afternoon snack with hummus.
I buy nuts in large quantities whenever they go on sale. Walnuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios, and peanuts are staples in our house. They get added to granola, pancake batter, and energy bars, and I eat them straight, sometimes mixed with a handful of dried fruit.
Every weekend I make a batch of homemade granola for the family. When in need of a filling snack or a half-hour prior to working out, I eat a bowl of high-fat yogurt and granola with fruit.
What snack foods do you keep on hand to ensure healthy eating?