“If we’re not meant to have midnight snacks, why is there a light in the fridge?” ~ Unknown
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Healthy snacking has been on my mind an awful lot this month
Looking at September’s calendar, one would never guess we’re a couple of introverted homebodies. The weeks are marked with scribbles: “Ask someone to check on the kitties.” Squiggly Lines: “Food Photography Class” Bold letters: “Overnighting for work” Smiley faces: “Food Styling/Branding Class” and Hearts: “Weekend Escape for Two.”
“I’ll pack snacks for the road.”
In between are the everydays, “Puppy walking date at the park.”
“I’ll pack snacks for a picnic.”
And 6 am wake-up reminders for mornings with my daughter, “Mom, will you give me a ride to work this week?” A chance to spend some alone time with her “I had to catch my breath yesterday, I was so light-headed. I’d completely forgotten to eat.”
“I’ll pack snacks for your afternoon break.”
I thought it might be fun to share a few thoughts around healthy snacking. Everything from my favorite things to reach for, what to keep in mind while roaming the grocery aisles, and tips for packing a little something for road-trips and airplane rides
At the Grocery
There’s far more than meets the eye
For the longest time calorie counts (and fat content) were the filters for what ended up in my shopping cart. Certainly, calories count, but in the last couple of years I’ve begun to uncover
the rest of the story
It took a fundamental shift in thinking to be able to see beyond the nutrition label, and instead to the list of
A few things to keep in mind as you make your way up one aisle, and down the next
Fill your cart first with the things nature delivers ready-made. Think fruits and veggies, nuts and seeds
A note about nuts and seeds. They’re great (although keep an eye on your portion sizes). When deciding which to buy, raw or dry-roasted will be your best bet.
Anything containing nuts, seeds, or grains, look for sprouted varieties (refined white flour won’t sprout). If you’re not able to find something sprouted, make the best choice based upon ingredients that are whole and beautiful. A few examples: Mary’s Gone Crackers .. Go Raw .. Brad’s Raw Chips .. Hope Hummus
For lovers of all things chips: Dehydrated over baked is the best. For example Kale Chips
Granted, dehydrated kale chips aren’t everyone’s thing(!). If you’re in the mood for something salty and crunchy, choose a low-salt option that hasn’t been baked in hydrogenated oils. For example Organic blue-corn tortilla chips
Keep right on walking past the deli meat. I know, it’s easy and delicious; but the majority is filled with additives. Those sold in the organic section aren’t quite as bad, although they’re terribly high in sodium
Yogurt is a snacking staple for so many of us. Skip the overly sweetened flavored yogurt and instead choose plain Siggi’s (or a similar brand). If you’re missing the sweet, stir in a tsp of natural honey and add some berries
Bars are another popular go-to. Homemade is best, and when buying, there are a few things to watch out for. Take note of the sugar content: 10g or less is best. Also, choose one made with a few simple ingredients that you recognize and can pronounce. A few ideas? Larabars .. Eat Nakd .. Kit’s Organic .. Kur .. RxBar .. Thunderbird .. Go Raw
If your grocery or co-op offers a deli with pre-made options, there may be snacking treasures to be had. Also, there’s a very good chance that it’s something that’s been made on-site, in the last 48 hours (instead of a year ago!). It also won’t contain all of the food dyes and additives found in the highly processed stuff
Keep an eagle eye out for sugar in disguise(!) A few of its aliases: lactose, maltodextrin, rice syrup, barley malt, beet sugar, agave nectar.
If your favorite snacks include something delicious on toast, a few thoughts about bread. If you’re able either make your own or buy from a local bakery. Bread in plastic is highly processed, as opposed to the real thing, which is meant to go stale in a day
Avoid anything with soy protein isolate (a mainstay in popular energy bars and cereals). It acts as an endocrine disruptor in much the same way as BPA in plastic
Avoid polyunsaturated vegetable oils such as cottonseed, rapeseed and soybean. They’re some of the very worst things you could put into your body
What are some of the snacks you love at your house?
Such a fun no-bake snack
A crumble made of oats, pecans, dates, coconut oil, and sea salt make for such a wonderful crust. The middle layers, healthier (3-ingredient) versions of chocolate and caramel. Topped with a layer of crumble.
Tuck them away in the freezer, and you’ll have a gooey, and health(ier) treat waiting at a moment’s hungry notice.
~ Adapted from Pinch of Yum
No-Bake Chocolate Caramel Snack Bars
- 1 ½ cups pecan halves (or any nut of choice)
- 1 ½ cups rolled oats
- 8 Medjool dates, pitted
- ½ cup coconut oil, melted but not hot
- a pinch of coarse sea salt
- Chocolate Filling Layer
- ½ cup cocoa powder
- ¼ cup coconut oil, melted
- ¼ cup maple syrup, or honey (more or less to taste)
- Caramel Filling Layer
- 2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted but not hot
- 3 ½ Tbsp almond butter
- 2 Tbsp maple syrup
- flaky sea salt for sprinkling on top
- Crust + Topping
- Line a 9x5 loaf pan with plastic wrap. (This will make getting the bars out when it’s chilled much easier). Set aside.
- In a food processor or high-powered blender, add the crust's ingredients.
- Process until the dates have begun to break down and the mixture starts to come together (the consistency of a stiff dough)
- Add the ¾ of the dough to the lined pan. Press to cover the bottom in an even layer.
- Set aside.
- Chocolate Filling Layer
- Chocolate: In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, coconut oil, and maple syrup.
- Pour over oatmeal crust. Smooth out evenly.
- Chill in the freezer for 15-20 minutes.
- Caramel Filling Layer
- Meanwhile, combine the coconut oil, almond butter until smooth.
- Once the chocolate filling has begun to set, spread the caramel evenly over the crust. Sprinkle with remaining oat mixture and a pinch or two of flaky sea salt.
- Chill the bars in the freezer for an hour or more (or in the fridge for 3 or 4 hours)
- Cut into 16 bars and enjoy!