The healthiest ways to snack

BY PENDA HONEYGHAN

Monday, August 19, 2019

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WHEN we hear snacks the first thing that often comes to mind is the processed snacks and beverages on display in vending machines. And while they are both convenient and fill the hunger gap between meals, nutritionist Janique Watts says these products often have very little nutritional value and are likely to be packed with sodium and other unhealthy ingredients.

“Snacks are a necessary part of your meal plan because we do get hungry between meals. If you are going the healthy route when snacking it is important to remember that you want to stay away from foods that are high in fat, choose foods that have simple sugar and salt sources, and those that are rich in fibre,” Watts recommends.

If you are looking to add something more nutritious to your diet, Watts has shared a list of foods that make the perfect snack items.

Fruits

Fruits are not only low in calories, but they are packed with a variety of essential vitamins and minerals.

“Having three to five servings of fruits per day provides us with natural sugars needed for energy, and fibre which helps to control blood sugar levels,” Watts advised.

If you want to jazz up your fruits you can also dry, bake or grill them. When dried, they are preserved for longer periods.

Nuts

Almonds, peanuts, walnuts, and cashews, for example, are excellent sources of a variety of nutrients.

“A handful of nuts or one to two servings a day will help with energy and cell repair as nuts contain proteins which help to restore cell damage,” Watts explained.

Shakes/smoothies

Protein shakes make a healthy, nutritious snack. Watts said you can make these using low-fat milk, grain (oats, lentils, etc) and add a fruit or two to make this power snack. This fibre-rich snack is guaranteed to stave off hunger. Just in case you are tempted to add protein powders to your shake, you might want to second guess this if you are looking for the healthiest option. Protein powders often contain artificial sweeteners in large portions, which can be counterproductive.

Sandwiches

There are plenty of simple sandwiches that you can make such as peanut butter, cheese, and tuna.

Having the major energy food groups as components adds to the efficiency of this snack. The bread provides carbohydrates, cheese/peanut butter/ tuna adds the protein and some fat, the lettuce/tomato adds the vegetable component which aids with immunity, and the fibre needed for healthy digestion,” Watts shared.

Parfaits

This meal idea consists of a mix of yoghurt, fruit and nut blend. Watts said that this snack is a great way to pick up energy and stops hunger for a bit until a major meal can be had.

Crackers and dip

A variety of seeds and nuts can be used to make baked goods such as crackers. Some examples are flax seed crackers and tortilla chips made from ground corn. You can pair this with guacamole (made using avocado) or salsa dip (a mix of vegetables such as tomatoes, onions, garlic, vinegar, and cucumber). These are healthy choices and you can make the sauces and the baked products from scratch to make sure that you don't have to deal with calorie-filled ingredients often used in processed crackers and dips.


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