The Wholefood Approach
We have covered the main meals of the day including breakfast, lunch and dinner – but what if you get hungry between these meals. This is where snacks comes in. Snacks can easily be made healthy and there are loads of options. In fact snacks are great opportunities to get in extra nutrients so they are not something that need to be avoided when wanting to eat healthy or even to lose weight, they are also a great way to ensure you don’t overeat during your next main meal.
The Snack Industry
These days there are more than one aisle in the supermarket dedicated exclusively to snacks – from biscuits to chocolate to lollies, chips, muesli bars and also include a lot of the products in the health food aisle. The majority of these products are highly processed, contain very little nutrients and are high in calories. Some of these products make claims such as ‘low sugar’ ‘low carb’ ‘low in calories’ etc to make you think they are healthy but the majority of these products are still highly processed and contain little nutrients.
Another reason people snack is less to do with hunger, and more to do with reasons such as boredom, association (for example, watching a movie and wanting a snack), and snacking just because there is food around (if you work from home and are a few steps from the fridge and cupboard – or if your workplace has biscuits/cakes on offer). We also tend to be the least mindful when eating snacks and due to the nature of snack foods, it is very easy to overconsume on them. In addition because these products are typically high in calories, it is not uncommon to take in anywhere from 600 calories to over 1000 calories just by eating some traditional snacks, such as a packet of chips, chocolate and biscuits. Something like Tim Tams contain 80 calories per biscuit therefore the calories can add up very quickly. Studies also show us that snacking these high calorie foods do not lead to eating less in your next meal, which means that overall your daily intake of calories for the day has gone up.
As mentioned above, snacking is not something that should be avoided but it is important to be mindful to ensure you are only snacking when you feel hungry, and not just because you are bored or there are snacks around. It is also important to make healthier choices when it comes to snacking so you don’t overconsume on unnecessary calories that don’t provide good nutrition in return.
A lot of the time when people snack, it is done so in the moment. They suddenly find themselves hungry between meals and don’t have anything prepared, so their decisions are based on the desire to satisfy their sudden hunger. This usually results in a quick, easy option which is usually an unhealthy one. Therefore it is important to plan for this hunger. If you know you tend to get a little hungry in the afternoons – plan out your snacks so you have something ready when you feel hungry. That way you don’t get into a situation where you are choosing the unhealthy option.
The idea with snacking is to re-think your definition of the word. Instead of thinking of snacks like the ones mentioned above, such as chips, chocolate, biscuits etc, start thinking of healthier alternatives. These are listed below:
Fruit makes a great healthy snack because it can be eaten on the go, is loaded with nutrients and naturally lower in calories. You can also cut up some fruits and make it into a fruit salad to take with you to work or on the road.
Nuts are also a great healthy option as they contain lots of nutrients including good fats. It is important not to overconsume on nuts as they are high in calories. Nuts are extremely satiating which means you feel full for longer and studies show that people who ate a handful of nuts as an afternoon snack consumed less at dinner time, therefore even if your goal is to lose weight, you do not need to avoid nuts. Divide nuts into serves and have them ready for when you feel like a snack. It is best to eat unsalted nuts, but you can also create different recipes to add flavour to nuts, see recipe below.
Bliss Balls / Protein Balls
These are best made yourself as you can control exactly what goes into it, and you can include wholefood ingredients such as dates, peanut butter, oats, cacao, tahini, coconut, nuts etc. Therefore Bliss and Protein Balls are great for the nutrients they contain. They are also naturally sweetened so if you have a sweet tooth or feel like a sweet treat in the afternoons, they are a healthy option.
Veggie Sticks with dip
This consist of cutting up some fresh veggies, such as carrots, celery, capsicum and having it with a healthy dip such as hummus or guacamole.
Fruit with Peanut/Almond Butter
This is a delicious and satisfying snack as it keeps you full for longer because of the nut butters. Simply spread some peanut or almond butter on slices of apple, banana or pears.
Loaded Toast or Rice Thins
Get creative with this snack, instead of just having toast with butter/PB – make it more nutritious. Use wholemeal/sourdough bread and load it with a variety of toppings including beans, avocado, tomato etc. To make it lower in calories you can use rice thins. See recipe below.
This is a great on the go snack that is highly nutritious but just be mindful of the amount of ingredients and calories in a smoothie or juice as it can add up quickly. The general rule is whatever you put into a smoothie, you should be able to eat whole in one sitting – so for example if you are using 2 bananas, 1 apple, 1 cup of berries and some pineapple in 1 smoothie- its likely you wouldn’t be able to eat all that fruit whole in one go – therefore you should reduce the amount of fruit or the quantities.
Very easy to eat on the go and is good for people who have a sweet tooth. This is another snack that can easily be overeaten so portion it out into serves and eat like that.
Plant-based Yogurt with Berries
Try to buy the unflavoured non-dairy yoghurt as the flavoured ones are likely to contain added ingredients and sugars. Serve with some frozen or fresh berries.
Snacks don’t have to only include snack type foods, they can also include a mini version of a meal. For example if you have leftovers from the night before, you can eat a smaller portion of it, or make it into a new meal. For example, if you have leftover roast veggies, you can chop up some greens and serve it on top with a drizzle of balsamic or tahini.
There are loads of recipes for snacks, here are some you can try:
5 snack servings
This is a super easy, super delicious snack. Drizzle 1-2 tbsp of tamari or soy sauce over 1 cup of almonds then mix together. Spread out on a baking dish then pop into the oven heated to 180 degrees for around 15-20 mins, mixing every 5 or so mins. Once cooked, let cool and then pop into an airtight container.
3-4 snack servings
Drain one can of chickpeas and slightly dry with a tea towel. Lay on a non-stick baking tray and sprinkle with salt. Bake at 180 degrees for 35-45mins, toss them around half way through. Whilst they are cooking, mix spices – 1tsp onion powder, 1tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp cumin and if you like a bit of spice 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper. Once the chickpeas are done, remove from oven, they will crisp up a little more, add the spices and mix around. Once cool, keep in an airtight container.
Bliss Balls – Choc Tahini Bliss Balls
- 1 cup dates
- 1/2 cup almonds
- 2tbs cacao powder
- 1/4 cup tahini
- 3tbs toasted desiccated coconut
- Pinch sea salt
Blend dates and almonds separately until they are in small pieces, alternatively they can be chopped up with a knife. Put into a bowl with cacao, tahini and add sea salt. Mix until well combined.
Using wet hands rolls into balls then dust with toasted coconut.
There are so many varieties of loaded toasts or rice crisps.
Recipe 1 – Simply mash half avocado and add a little salt. Spread over lightly toasted bread or rice thin, add some sun-dried tomatoes and a sprinkle of hemp seeds.
Recipe 2 – Spread almond butter onto toast/rice thin then top with sliced banana and strawberry, with a sprinkle of chia seeds and a drizzle of maple.
Recipe 3 – Roughly mash 1/4 cup of chickpeas, add a little salt and load onto toasted bread or rice thins with a drizzle of tahini.
Simple Hummus Dip
3 snack servings
Blend 1 can of drained chickpeas (save the water), 3 cloves of garlic, 2 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tsp of cumin, 1/4 tsp of paprika. Add 1/4 cup water from chickpea can. If you need more to make it blend add a little at a time. Once blended, serve in a bowl with a sprinkle of salt and stir in 1 tbsp of tahini. Great to have with veggie sticks.
2 snack servings
Mash 1 avocado. Squeeze in 1/4 lime, salt and 1/2 tbsp of tahini. Great to have with veggie sticks or on toast/rice thins. This snack cannot be kept, so if you are only making it for one snack, use half the ingredients.
Give these delicious snacks a go! Simply remove pits from a few medjool dates, fill with peanut or almond butter and sprinkle with dark choc
Now that you have a list of recipes for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner and Snacks – you can start creating your own meal plans.
By creating your own, you are able to choose meals that suit your likes and lifestyle – which makes the biggest difference when it comes to sustaining a healthy eating lifestyle.
Find a time during the week where you can plan out your meals. Use the meal planner template to select dishes that you would like to cook or that you would like to learn to cook. Remember, you do not need to learn all new dishes in one week, instead choose a couple and you can also amend the recipes you already know. If you need some help, reach out to me!