UPDATED JANUARY 28, 2018
Last week, I confessed that I had fallen off the wagon this last year and I have been so touched by your outpouring of love and encouragement that it really gave me wings!! So first of all: a BIG THANK YOU to all of you, my friends! Since then I started my fitness challenge at my local gym and…..whooooohhoo am I having fun!! I feel rejuvenated having followed my own advice: a little lighter in my body, both psychologically and physically and just plain re-energized! I hope some of you are really with me on this because there is no way to do this without moving our bodies and just starting to use some muscles we may have even forgotten about along the way (OH MY GOODNESS, my abs hurt!!).
Anyway, here we are, keep doing what you are doing, keep simplifying your menu and keep moving! I’d love to hear from all of you how this made you feel too, as it’s always so invigorating to know you are not alone! Maybe someone in his or her kitchen in Germany, or in England, or Australia or anywhere in the world was simplifying his her menu, Cuisinicity style, just the way you were: How cool is that?
I decided to update this post because there is nothing new under the sun, and what applied last year about healthy eating still applies this year and will apply next year and next, so this is a refresher for those of you who read my blog before and for those of you who haven’t…GO RE READ IT from start to finish (really, I insist! There are at least a couple surprising ideas you may not have thought of, and that will “save the day” for you to stay on track!), I invite you to leave me a comment on this post and let me –and all of us– know how you’re doing! and please do not hesitate to respond to one another, as long as it’s encouraging and always in solidarity!
So here you go: Are you still with me?
There are many reasons that people reach for a snack. They range from alleviating hunger (or the fear of going hungry!), to dealing with stress, anxiety, tension or even boredom. Whatever your particular reason–and indeed it may be helpful to identify your own motivation at any given time so you can address it in a more productive way-snacking can be done optimally so that you do not undermine your health and keep your weight in check.
KEEP IT SIMPLE!
By that, I mean choose from a relatively short list of food so you don’t start grazing from one snack to the next and overstimulate your appetite center. I have described this phenomenon based on the neuroscience of appetite in a prior post here. It’s called sensory specific satiety. Basically, it is the tendency to feel full and stop eating when flavors are relatively limited and to stay hungry and keep eating when flavors are excessively diverse. So this is definitely something to keep in mind when snacking!
BE MINDFUL OF THIS RATIO!
Another helpful tip before choosing a snack, is to stop to think of the ratio of nutrients to calories that it provides. This doesn’t have to be a complicated formula, and can become a “second-nature” simple-minded exercise to guide you in your choices. Here is what I mean:
LOW calories/HIGH nutrients=PERFECT RATIO
Plain raw veggies and majority of Fruit are a good example; they are low in calories and high in nutrients, including mineral, vitamins, fiber. Snacks that fall in this category are great and you can munch on them as much as you’d like, the more variety the better!
HIGH calories/HIGH Nutrients=GOOD RATIO
Here is a good ratio that’s not so obvious: A snack can be high in calories as long as the calories are “worth it” in terms of nutritional value. Nuts and seeds are a good example of that ratio. The reason that they are still good choices is that they are filling/satiating and make up for the calories they provide by reducing eating at other times. So, remember to include those but in smaller quantities–a little goes a long way, you’ll be surprised!
HIGH calories/LOW nutrients=BAD RATIO
A candy bar, donut or Starbucks sugary drink concoction are good examples; These are very high in calories and don’t give you back good nutrients in return; they are full of sugar and fat and not much else of any inherent nutritional value. I hasten to specify “inherent” because food companies are at liberty to throw in fortification/supplements in junk food to make it appear nutritious, but don’t be fooled even by those! My husband has written extensively about it–Fortified junk food is still junk food! This category of snacks is nutrient-empty and may satisfy you momentarily (and maybe not!) but leave you wanting more- a formula for “disaster”: Limit those!
ORGANIZE YOUR KITCHEN ACCORDINGLY!
Let me take you on a little tour of my kitchen! It is filled with wholesome simple snacks that fall within the spectrum of the first 2 good ratios! I even let you in on the specific brands that David and I (and the kids!) enjoy in our own home, so you know that they meet not only our nutritional standards but also have passed our yummy test!!
I always have fresh fruit on the counter (and in the fridge) handy and ready to go! You can eat it whole or sliced up, dipped in plain fat-free yogurt with a sprinkle of cinnamon and honey or in a little (that’s key–a little goes a long way!) natural nut butter (no sugar or salt added). You can also incorporate fruit in smoothies (and veggies for that matter–I wrote a post about “Fresh Smoothies” last week here). If you are in the mood for a sweet “comforting” treat that still delivers that Low calorie-High Nutrition ratio, another snack that I love to have handy in my fridge are my Simply Cinnamon Apples. You can eat them cold or a little warmed up in the microwave and they will satisfy that special feel-good need! I am going to show you in the little video-clip below how I make them in my own kitchen…hold on!
I also have dried fruit (unsweetened) ready to go: Notice the open-mouth jar on the right on my kitchen counter–it’s filled with a variety of them! The thing to remember here is that because dried fruit are dehydrated and are more concentrated than fresh fruit, they are smaller in volume and size and quicker to eat than regular fruit so, don’t eat them absent-mindedly or they can add up! All you really need is 2 or 3 pieces (dried apricot, figs, dates, pears, prunes) to be satisfied. Really, try some, they are so good! Nuts.com is a great resource that offers a “ton” of varieties, always so fresh and just right–you can pick and choose (again make sure to pick those without added sugar!)
Of course, I have lots of fresh veggies in the fridge too! You can have them sliced or in chunks in a tupperware ready to go, just plain, or with some hummus or a good salsa (make sure it has no added sugar–I like Green Mountain Gringo). Another great dip that I recommend that delivers that Low-calorie-high nutrient ratio with a rich taste is my simply spinach dip. I make a batch at the beginning of the week and have it ready to go in a tupperware in the fridge, it keeps very well and it goes beautifully with the veggies or wholegrain crackers. Some crackers I love are Way Better Snacks, Mary’s Gone Crackers (these were an acquired taste for me!!), Garden of Eatin’, but there are many others, just check the ingredients list and keep it wholesome and simple!
And, let’s not forget good old popcorn, but remember to keep it simple: just sprinkle with a little salt, and DON’T add butter, alright?! If you want to grab popcorn on the go, I recommend this great product, called SKINNYPOP! It has no artificial coloring, flavors or preservatives and they re super yummy! My kids love’em!!
Before I continue with some other ideas for snacks, let me take you inside my kitchen and show you first-hand how to make that spinach dip (it’s so easy and quick!) and those simply-cinnamon apples I alluded to earlier: Both these snacks have a LOW calories-HIGH Nutrients ratio and I invite you to make them along with me this week…are you in?
Continuing on my kitchen tour, notice the other big open-mouth jar on my counter! That one is filled with wholegrain cereal (our favorite are Nature’s Path Multigrain Flakes). David has them as part of his breakfast everyday, but we also like to munch on them like “chips”–it really is amazing how satisfying these are! If you pick a wholesome, high fiber, low sodium, low sugar brand, you’ll find it so much more satiating than chips because they are nutrient-dense. Barbara’s Bakery Morning Oat crunch (original)-–the kids loved those when they were little, for some reason Corinda entitled them “Titos”, I don’t know why, hahaha!— or plain Shredded Wheat are also great to munch on, and there are many others for you to choose from. Just put them in a ziplock bag to take with you!
A handful of plain nuts or seeds–dry-roasted or raw–no added oils, salt or sugar– Walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pumpkin seeds etc… make a wonderful snack. Nuts.com is a great resource that offers a “ton” of varieties, perfectly fresh–you can pick and choose (again make sure to pick those without added sugar and oils!). Because nuts are filled with nutrients and are so satiating, I have several snack recipes that incorporate them as well. My Katz Flax Crisps and my Chewy Granola squares are a great snack to bring on a hike or to put in the kids lunch box. Note that I specifically cut them in small squares because they are higher in calories so don’t eat a whole batch!
There are also some great On-The-Go snacks that I can recommend not only because they satisfy all of my (and David’s) picky nutritional standards and are yummy (of course!) but because these 3 companies are run by good people that we just love! Joy Bauer, from “Nourish Snacks”, Staness Jonekos, from NesstaLife “Eat Like a Woman” and Daniel Lubetzky from “Kind” are all dear friends of ours and they really know what they are doing!
I also just discovered this really wonderful company, called Simple Squares and their organic nutrition bars are fabulous, nutrition-wise and look tasty too so I am going to give them a try and get back to you on how yummy they are! I would love your feedback on them if you try them too!
So check these out too, I recommend them with love!