Smart snacks keep blood sugars stable, maintain level energy and moods, and provide vital nutrients. Usually, they come without an ingredient list. The best ones require no mixing or cooking. For the most part, you can eat them on the go.
Convenience Drives Foolish Snack Choices
Why are we even talking about smart snacks? Today’s convenience food industry has created products that are the nemesis of health. For example, beverages with high fructose corn syrup are damaging to your liver. Further, highly processed crackers, chips, and baked goods are high in calories and low in nutrients. They can cause your blood sugars to rise rapidly. Chronically high blood sugars contribute to insulin resistance and type 2 Diabetes. Also, packaged snacks with flavor enhancers, food coloring, and other chemical additives affect your mood negatively by altering your microbiome.
Smart Snacks Are Natural Foods
When you run into the grocery store to grab a quick bite, look for items that don’t come in a box, can, or bag. Think about food that existed more than a century ago. Envision going outside to pick it, dig it, milk it, or gather it. Food scientists have invented most of the harmful products on the market today in the last 50 to 100 years. If you can’t pronounce all the ingredients on the label and don’t know what half of them are, that’s your first clue that you don’t need them. After all, who cooks at home with sodium benzoate, BHA, propylene glycol, and azodicarbonamide?
Don’t Leave Out Healthy Fats
Most of today’s snack choices center on refined carbohydrates. Eating high quantities of processed carbohydrates is dangerous for your metabolic balance. Those snacks that do contain fats are made from highly inflammatory oils: soy, canola, cottonseed, safflower, and corn. But your cells – all 37 trillion of them – each need the right kind of fats in order to admit nutrients and expel wastes. Nuts, seeds, olives, avocados, coconuts and dairy products contain natural fats that benefit your health.
Smart Combinations to Snack on
Check out this list of snack pairings, then get creative designing your own. The key is to pair a fat or protein with a fruit, vegetable or whole grain carbohydrate.
- Smoked Salmon on multi-seed crackers
- Dates & cream cheese
- Hummus & baby carrots
- Peaches & Greek yogurt
- Snap Peas & tahini
- Olives & baby bell peppers
- Hard-boiled eggs & grape tomatoes
- Raspberries & ricotta cheese
- Celery & sunflower seed butter
- Red pears & cheddar
- Cottage cheese & cantaloupe
- Grapes & gouda cheese
- Avocado cubes & mandarin orange slices
- Tuna salad in cucumber “cups”
- Nut butter on brown rice cakes
- Broiled tomatoes slices with mozzarella
- Peel-&-eat shrimp with cocktail sauce
- Pistachios & strawberries
- Popcorn with butter & parmesan
- Sunflower & sesame seeds baked with honey (see recipe below)
- 1/2 c. sunflower seeds
- 1/4 c. sesame seeds
- 1 Tb. honey
- 1 Tb. olive oil
Toss ingredients together and spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast in a preheated 400° oven for 6-8 minutes. Cool 10 minutes, break apart, and cool completely.