Hey everyone – it’s Top 10 time again!
This time around we’re talking snacks – those all-important bites that keep us going throughout the day. Snacking keeps calories coming in and elevate your metabolism, but too often they’re skipped, or we consume way too much. As always it’s all about smart choices AND portion control… So here’s my Top 10 list of the best snacks to grab on the go…
1. Apple and Natural Peanut Butter – I’ve been eating this snack for over 10 years and it tastes great. With about 250 calories, you get a lot of healthy fats, fiber, carbohydrates and a bit of protein. And it’s easy to prepare if you need to take it with you. Compare that to 500 calories of junk in a deli muffin and the better choice is clear.
2. Roast Beef Lettuce Wraps- You could pick the ‘ingredients’ for this one up at the grocery store and make it in your car – I have. Pick your favorite leafy lettuce (I like Romaine), buy about ¼ pound of lean, low salt, roast beef and start wrapping away! Each average cut of beef has about 40 calories, and the lettuce is neglible. And if you want you can add a little Smart Balance Mayo or a dab of your favorite honey mustard.
3. Raw Almonds – I buy almonds already wrapped in single servings and it’s great because I know when to stop eating – when there is no more! About a handful of almonds gives you 200 calories, protein and a lot of healthy fats. Fat helps to slow digesting thus making you feel fuller, longer. Don’t run from foods moderate to high in healthy fat, as long as the calories are in check you’ll be fine.
4. Greek Yogurt and Granola – I use the single serving plain yogurt and add just a sprinkle of granola on the top for crunch. Plus I eat around it to save the granola for last! This snack tastes great, is satisfying, and is a nutrition powerhouse. And in addition to the various nutrients, you get some healthy bacteria to support digestive health.
5. Food Bars – I know in a perfect world we’d eat nothing but all whole foods, but that isn’t always a possibility. I’ve used meal replacement bars since their inception and they’ve helped me stay on a healthy diet while providing great nutrition and quality taste. Some of my favorites are Zone Perfect, Balance, Detour and MetRx Protein. Trust me, in addition to being calorie appropriate these bars have come a long way on the taste front!
6. Stone Ground Tortilla Chips – These are made with just ground whole grain corn and a variety of healthy oils. Each chip has about 10 calories (less than a Hersheys’ Kiss), and contains protein, almost no saturated fat, no sugar, fiber and not much sodium. Unlike potato chips that are full of saturated fat and salt, these chips are a much smarter choice. I must admit, I put peanut butter on mine – weird huh?
7. Fast Food Salads – If you’re out on the road traveling and can’t find anyplace to eat but a fast food eatery, no problem. Most of them now serve salads with grilled chicken, nuts, berries, different lettuces, and other ingredients depending on where you are. I’ve tried them all and they’re a decent snack as they are tiny. Just be sure to watch the amount of dressing – we tend to think low fat or fat free means we’re able to drown the salad in dressing but instead that just adds empty calories. Most fast food salads are in the 300-calorie range
8. Protein Shakes – I know they taste gross right? Not anymore. As with nutrition bars the call for better quality has made companies step up their game. If you have the time at home, you can blend a quality powder with a bit of fruit, Greek yogurt, peanut butter, and even a little bit of sugar free Jell-O pudding for taste! Watch the calories though as they’ll add up. If not, there are many ready to drink shakes available. I’m a huge fan of Muscle Milk for it’s flavor and its great athletic nutrient profile, plus they make a lite version for those that don’t want too many calories.
9. Flatbread and Butter – Yes, you read that right, but it’s not what you’re thinking – let me explain. In almost every supermarket you can now find low carb, high protein, high fiber flatbreads. They only have about 100 calories each and contain up to 7 grams of protein. I toast these and use Smart Balance Butter with a little strawberry preserve for flavor. You can use whatever you want and maybe even eat 2! You can also use these in the lettuce wraps if you choose. Compared to regular toast and butter, you’ll eat less than half the calories and fat!
10. Hard Boiled Eggs - I know they stink but they are a great source of nutrition (see my Taste It Or Waste It – Eggs) and when they’re hard-boiled, portable! If you have the time, you can make healthy egg salad with vegetables, and cottage cheese for consistency. If not, just crack them open, peel and eat. Each whole egg has 70 calories, so I recommend eating 2 whole eggs and 4 egg whites as a nice protein punch.
There you have it – exactly what I have eaten and still do to maintain a healthy diet. Snacking is important for many reasons, but one that most people don’t realize is that your body cannot store protein as it does carbohydrates. Whereas your muscles can keep sugar stored for later use, you must supply protein every three to four hours to stay in what’s called a “positive” state, meaning you have adequate nutrients available for lean mass maintenance and growth.
You’ll also find that by including snacks, you shouldn’t be as hungry at mealtime and will be less prone to overeat. Don’t say that you don’t have the time to prepare, or you can’t, that’s bull. If you’re serious about your health and fitness, the extra 10 or 15 minutes it takes to plan some snacks shouldn’t matter. Right?
But what do you think? Do you have an awesome recipe for a healthy snack? I’d love to hear about it, so start commenting everyone…