The basic rule of healthy snacking is to increase the protein and fat of your snack and limit the carbohydrate and sugar content. For example, apple slices topped with almond butter provides the fat and protein required to increase and sustain your energy, as opposed to an apple on its own which will only stave off the hunger for 30 – 60 minutes.
By turning your snack into a mini-meal that can fuel you for 2 – 3 hours, you will reduce sugar cravings, maintain your energy throughout the day, and help stabilize your mood. As nutritious as your snack may be, adequate sleep and hydration are the other required ingredients for sustained energy. Before starting to even think about healthy snacking, please focus on getting 7—8 hours of sleep each night and don’t forget to sip your 8 glasses of water throughout the day.
Once you’ve incorporated a regular schedule of restful sleep and consistent hydration, try including one of our recommended mini-meals before or after lunch, depending upon your schedule and when you need it most.
1. Avocado sprinkled with lemon and sea salt: depending upon your hunger quotient and the size of the fruit, half an avocado or a whole, small avocado, makes an easy and delicious snack that is quick, satisfying and rich.
2. Eggs: Not everyone is a fan of hard-boiled eggs, but chopped and mixed with arugula or other salad greens and topped with olive oil and balsamic, a hard-boiled egg goes down easy and fuels your body with 6 grams of protein and an array of vitamins and minerals.
3. Chia seeds pack a powerful punch of protein, calcium and minerals. Chia seed pudding can be as easy as mixing 2 tablespoons of chia seeds in a ½ cup of milk – dairy, almond, hemp or coconut – with a sprinkle of cinnamon, stevia, and sea salt. Other add-ins include vanilla, unsweetened cocoa powder, pumpkin pie spice or blended fruit or avocado. Let it sit in the fridge for 30 – 60 minutes to thicken and/or blend in a mini food processor or Vitamix.
4. Hemp hearts: Another great seed to try is hemp hearts: mix up your own homemade trail mix of unsweetened coconut flakes, slivered almonds, sunflower seeds, dark chocolate chips and sea salt. Or, sprinkled on top of a salad, 3 tablespoons of hemp seeds contain 10 grams of protein.
5. Canned wild salmon: If you can chop a little carrot, onion or pepper into half a can of salmon with a little salad dressing, it makes a protein-rich mini-meal either as a dip for celery sticks or a topping for gluten-free crackers such as Mary’s Gone Crackers.
6. Walnuts or pumpkin seeds: ¼ cup or one handful of walnuts or pumpkin seeds – rich in both protein and healthy omega-3 fats, nuts and seeds are portable, don’t require refrigeration and are convenient to keep in your purse or office drawer.
7. Energy bars: Generally, pre-packaged energy bars are not at the top of my list but they can certainly come in handy when you don’t have a homemade snack available. Protein rich and full of omega-3 fats, Epic bars make a good choice, especially when travelling.