Our Mothers used to tell us not to snack between meals because it would “ruin” our appetites. Yet we know now that it’s healthier to eat smaller meals five or six times a day and snack like Jack in the box keto. This means we now have the green light to snack! However, it’s important to realize that portion size is important in order to reap the benefits. Beginners to a healthier lifestyle can sabotage themselves by thinking they can eat more because it’s healthy. While that’s true to a certain extent, i.e. vegetables, it’s not a good rule to follow. With a little planning and preparation you can always have a few healthy, well portioned, and interesting snacks at hand.
A sweet and refreshing summery treat is frozen fruit. Buy some grapes and your favorite variety of melon. Wash and dry the grapes and cut the melon into small bite-sized chunks. Freeze snack portions in snack-sized sandwich bags. The frozen fruit is not only a cool relief in summer’s heat but it will slow you down so that you end up consuming less.
Salsa and chips are a popular snack but usually high in fat, sugar, and carbohydrates. Quite a few salsas use high fructose corn syrup or some type of sugar. A good quality fresh salsa sans sugar will also help you to include a serving of vegetables to your day. Generally, a 16-ounce container of salsa has around 150 calories. You can divide it into 4 storage containers or mentally divide it as you eat. Most tortilla chips are high in fat but there are varieties of baked chips on the market. When you return from the store, pre-portion the chips into sandwich baggies according to the servings on the nutrition label. You can re-use these bags when you purchase your next bag of chips.
Thomas’ brand of English Muffins now makes a light muffin that is a whole grain and only 100 calories. Split, toast, and spread with a wedge of your favorite Light Laughing Cow cheese. These little wedges are creamy and delicious and only 35 calories apiece. Then top with a few leaves of spinach or arugula and a couple of tomato slices. For less than 150 calories you have a tasty snack that includes complex carbohydrates, veggies, and light dairy.
Veggies and dips or dressings are another popular choice. However, dips are notoriously high in fat and the lightened versions use a large amount of high fructose corn syrup. It only takes about five minutes to make your own. First, mix together equal amounts of fat-free (or light) sour cream and low-fat mayonnaise. This is your base and from there just add your favorite herbs and spices. For example a finely chopped clove of garlic, a pinch of lemon zest, a squeeze of lemon juice, chopped basil and thyme, salt, pepper, and a dash of Tabasco. You can make it into a Southwestern dip by substituting cumin and chili powder for the herbs and adding some chopped cilantro and hot sauce.
Try some different varieties of vegetables besides the usual carrots and celery. Slices of cool, crisp jicama and ripe red peppers pair especially well with a Southwestern style dip. Chunks of fennel, lightly steamed asparagus, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, and summer squash are all fresh and colorful options.
Spread a mini whole-grain pita with your favorite hummus, either store-bought or homemade. Place thin slices of cucumber on top, sprinkle with a serving of feta cheese, a couple of chopped black olives and tomato and squeeze a little lemon juice lightly over top. You can either eat it as-is or warm lightly in a toaster or conventional oven.
If you spend a few extra minutes preparing for your snacking you’ll reap the benefits for days. Not only will you actually eat the fruits and vegetables you purchased but you will know exactly how much of each snack to eat. These snacks will refresh and revive you throughout the day, and they’ll taste so good you’ll think they’re bad.