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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Snackaroo!


Snacks, this is a debate I have with a lot of people. Are snacks good for you? Many people think they ruin an appetite, and add unnecessary calories. I need snacks, I really do. I usually start my day with a fruit smoothie, and then my lunch is usually something of the salad sort. I usually get super hungry from lunch to dinner, and if I don’t plan it out, I regret my mid-day snack. I am guilty as the next to be tempted by something that is around that I know I shouldn’t have, such as a cookie or candy. My current thought is that if you prepare for your midday hunger, it can prevent you from making unhealthy mistakes. I thought I would research if there were benefits of snacks, and what ones are recommended.


 According to the Mayo Clinic, snacking contributes to a healthy weight-loss diet if well prepared. When we are watching what we eat, we tend to eat smaller portions, finding ourselves hungry during the day. Instead of starving ourselves throughout the day, it is okay to grab a snack to suppress the hunger, as long as it is a healthy one. The Mayo Clinic recommends a snack that will supply yourself with energy and satisfy your hunger craves.

Benefits of:

Fruits and Vegetable Snacks: Eating carrot sticks, celery, banana, apple, raisins, or grapes is a great way to fill the between-meal craving. These natural elements from the ground are full of very little calories; usually they have small amounts of fat as well. Mayo Clinic also adds that fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber; providing us with added nutrients as well.

Whole Grains: Everything seems to have a whole-grain version nowadays, try crackers, chips, cereal, pretzels, crisps or rice crackers. The Mayo Clinic tells us that whole grains are full of fiber and complex carbohydrates, which provides us with energy throughout the day. When shopping for the stores, look for healthy alternatives to usual mixtures.

Nuts and Seeds: Whether they be sunflower, cashews, almonds, or soy, they provide us with a great snack. Nuts and seeds may be small, but they easily fill the void. They are full of protein, which is what fills you up so fast. Although nuts and seeds had a bad rap of containing fat, the Mayo Clinic says that they are mostly monosaturated which is the “healthy” are the fat kinds. They are also high in calories, so eat them as a snack and not a meal!

Dairy: Make sure these snacks are low in fat, which is usually an option in dairy products. Dairy provides us with calcium, protein, vitamins and minerals. Try yogurt, kefir, cottage cheese, or just a chunk of cheese. The Mayo Clinic warns to watch out dairy products with unnecessary additives and sugar.

I often get bored with just plain old carrot sticks every day, so here is an idea of some snacks that can mix things up:

  • Edamame
  • Vegetable Chips
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Apple Chips
  • Rice Cracker & Cottage Cheese
  • Hummus & Carrots
  • Crackers w/nut butter & berries
  • Cheese & Fruit
  • Apple w/nut-butter
  • Pears and Cheese

Hummus:

1 c garbanzo beans (reserve liquid)
2 T lemon juice
½ t salt & pepper
1 clove garlic
2 t olive oil
2 T cumin

Heat garbanzo beans in microwave with liquid for a minute, covered. Drain liquid into a separate bowl, and place the beans in food processor. Add the lemon juice, garlic, cumin and a small amount of reserved liquid. Add the olive oil and more liquid until it has a smooth consistency. Add the salt and pepper to, and refrigerate for at least one hour.

If a specific flavor is wanted, add to food processor to mix it up. Add roasted tomatoes, basil or even some cayenne to mix it up.

Spicy Edamame:

1 c edamame (frozen or fresh)
2 t olive oil
½ t chili powder
½ t basil
¼ t cumin
1/8 t pepper
salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 375. Put the edamame in a bowl, and drizzle with oil. Add the other spices and mix well to coat the beans. Spread the edamame on an oven sheet. Place in oven and cook for about 15 minutes, stir around about half way through. They will begin to turn golden brown when done. 


For more information on healthy lifestyles, check out http://www.mayoclinic.com/. 





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