Snacks are an important inclusion to the daily dietary intake to help top up your energy stores and keep you going throughout the day. In today’s society we are quite time poor and resort to quick and readily available foods which tend to be nutrient poor and high in energy such as chips and chocolate. This makes it difficult to achieve a healthy intake. For many individuals, poor snack choices can lead to unwanted weight gain and overall poor health. Snacks which are nutritious can assist with increasing concentration and therefore work productivity, increase energy levels as well as provide key nutrients for health. When you’re next stuck for ideas to satisfy the munchies between main meals try one of my top 6 snack ideas below.
1. SEASONAL FRUITS
Enjoy the broad variety of winter fruits which are starting to appear in local supermarkets; apples, grapefruit, mandarins and oranges. 1 serve of fruit will provide a low energy snack (approximately half the calories of 5 small squares of plain milk chocolate) that is also full of fibre, vitamins and minerals which are important for gut health, immune function, blood sugar control and other key bodily functions. It will satisfy your hunger but also contribute to your 2 serves of fruit for the day. Fresh fruit requires no preparation (except maybe a rinse under the tap) and can be quickly picked up and packed when running out the door.
|Serving Size: 1 medium banana or orange, 2 small stone fruit or kiwi or 1 cup of fresh fruit salad
2. LOW FAT YOGHURT
Yoghurt provides us with a package of nutrients important for health. Calcium for strong bones and teeth is just one benefits for including yoghurt as a daily snack. Other essential nutrients provided include protein (for maintaining muscles and the repair of damaged tissues) as well as phosphate (which is also important for bone health). Plain or fruit flavoured yoghurts are appropriate choices, however, be aware of yoghurts which contain syrups as these can be quite high in added sugar. For additional flavour, nutrients and an extra crunch, sprinkle with untoasted muesli. To avoid the yoghurt becoming warm, freeze or consume in the morning.
|Serving Size: 200g
Nuts contain good sources of nutrients which have key roles in assisting to maintain heart health. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can help with regulating cholesterol levels; whereas vitamin E, copper, zinc, magnesium and selenium are antioxidants reducing damage to cells and dietary fibre; and plant sterols (found in certain nuts) can help to lower cholesterol reabsorption into the gut. Try a small handful of unsalted nuts for a morning or afternoon snack. Divide up into individual serves to assist you in controlling your portion size.
|Serving Size: 30g (small handful)
Crackers are one of those snacks you can have when eating on the run. Spread with either a small amount of low fat dip, honey or jam. If you have more time, try some of the toppings below as these will contribute to achieving your daily requirements for other nutrients such as monounsaturated fat, calcium and vitamins.
Try 3 crackers and select one of the options below:
– 1-2 thin slices cheese + tomato
– Sliced tomato + basil leaves + pepper
– ¼ avocado
– 95g tinned tuna (in olive oil or water – drained)
|*Nutritional content will depend on toppings selected.
5. PITA CHIPS AND DIP
Want a healthy alternative to packet chips? Try some homemade pita chips with your favourite low fat dip. Using half a pita bread pocket / mountain bread wrap, lightly drizzle with ½ tsp of olive oil, sprinkle with your favourite herbs and toast under the grill or sandwich press. Serve with 1 tablespoon of your favourite low fat dip.
|Serving Size: ½ small pita pocket + 1 Tb low fat dip
One of my favourite snacks, particularly after a long morning run, is to mix my favourite fruits with yoghurt and milk to make a smoothie. This is a practical, quick and convenient snack to make when you are pushed for time. It is low GI, therefore will keep you satisfied until your next meal. It will provide you with a good source of dairy but also a combination of carbohydrate and protein; essential nutrients required to optimise recovery from training.
Mango, Berry and Banana Smoothie
250ml low fat milk
1 medium banana
½ cup mixed berries
1 mango cheek
200g low fat natural or vanilla yoghurt
Combine all ingredients together in a blender until smooth. Add ice cubes if desired and drink immediately.
|Serving Size: Serves 2
Although these snacks are nutritious it is important to still be mindful of your portion sizes. To help avoid overeating:
– Take a break from work to enjoy snacks
– Taste and savour every mouthful
– Do not eat out of packets – instead serve up an individual portion