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Snacking is good

Snacking reputation hasn’t always been very rosy. Most of the foods that have traditionally dominated as snack foods are not the healthiest choices – they provide a lot of calories without much nutrition. The desire for a snack can involve a hankering for a particular taste (like something sweet) or a yen for a texture (like something crunchy). But don’t put too much stock in the notion that what you crave is something your body truly needs. Very few people these days are sugar or salt deficient, but those remain the things we crave, potato chips or a chocolate bar, sounds vaguely familiar.

We often find ourselves nibbling or snacking unnecessarily, sometime due to boredom. Sometimes we may be feeling restless or stressed, which may lead to snacking. This is one habit that needs to be broken, as we will no doubt be eating far more calories than our body actually needs. Not only is it important to improve the quality of foods we eat, but also to regulate how often and how much we eat.

Well, it’s difficult to separate what’s physiological from what’s psychological, and it’s not all that useful anyway. We also need to regulate how often and how much we eat.

Examples of non-extreme ways to satisfy cravings with a healthier twist

  • If you’re crazy for chocolate, try a hot chocolate drink instead of a chocolate bar. An 8-ounce mug of hot chocolate has only 140 calories and 3 grams of fat, no whipped cream please. A chocolate bar, on the other hand, has 230 calories or more and 13 grams of fat.
  • Instead of chocolate fudge or a doughnut, you could have a carrot and walnut whole meal muffin. Substitute non-fat frozen yogurt or sorbet for ice cream.
  • If you’re craving savoury munchies, snack on baked tortilla chips instead of regular corn chips and pair them with salsa instead of sour cream.
  • Satisfy salt cravings with pretzels, baked sweet potato chips, tapioca chips instead of potato chips or other junk food.

As with everything, moderation is the key to smart snacking. People who eat regular meals and healthy snacks are less likely to overeat and gain weight than people who skip meals or go for long periods without eating and then scarf down a large order of fries, but a whole bag won’t help you add anything — except pounds! It’s natural to feel hungrier at certain times — like between a long afternoon of meetings and your dinner. Knowing how much food your body needs to satisfy this hunger is critical.

Fill the hunger gap with smart snacking

Smart snacking can help keep you going till your next full meal. And when you do stop to eat, it’s probably tempting to go the quick and easy route, so be very careful. Between the rush hour, meetings, brainstorming sessions and a long day it is possible to treat yourself to a healthy snack. In fact, if you have a hectic schedule, it’s even more important to eat healthy foods that give you the fuel you need to keep going.

Snacks are a terrific way to satisfy that hunger and get all the vitamins and nutrients your body needs. But you need to pay attention to what you eat. Stuffing your face with a large order of fries, burgers or candy bar may give you a temporary boost, but a snack this high in fat and calories will only slow you down in the long run, and oh, in this case your heart and your vital organs.

To keep energy levels going — and avoid weight gain — steer clear of foods with lots of simple carbohydrates (sugars) like candy bars or soda. Look for foods that contain complex carbohydrates like whole-grain breads and cereals and combine them with protein-rich snacks such as peanut butter or low-fat yogurt or cheese.

So what is your snacking style?

A better strategy, consider what taste or sensory sensation you really desire before reaching for a snack. The goal here is keeping health in mind while satisfying those cravings.

Say you crave for something…

Sweet:

Raisins, dried cherries, watermelon or fresh apple slices dipped in melted dark chocolate chips, cereal bar

Sweet and Cold:

Fruit or yogurt smoothies, icy cold fresh fruit juice

Salty:

Almonds, mixed nuts, whole-grain crackers, brown rice cakes, slice some parmagiano and have it with crackers

Crunchy:

A handful of high-fibre cereal, mixed nuts, walnuts a spoonful of peanut butter on celery or apple slices, pickles, or microwave popcorn

Creamy:

Low-fat pudding, whipped yogurt topped with fresh fruits, or flavoured oatmeal

 


Here’s a hassle-free snacking recipe

Fresh Charred Bell Pepper, Roasted Tomatoes and Herb Salad on Toast (Serves 4 persons)

  • 3 Bell pepper, preferably in different colours, charred, peeled and steamed
  • 250 gm Cherry tomatoes, roasted in the oven over a high temperature for 15 minutes
  • 50 gm raisins
  • 40 ml olive oil
  • Ground black pepper
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • A handful of mixed salad leaves, washed and spun dry
  • 2 cloves of garlic, give it a good mash
  • 40 gm roasted walnuts, crushed
  • Salt
  • A handful fresh basil – sweet or Thai basil
  • 1 fresh whole grain bread loaf
  • Grated parmagiano (optional)

Preparation method

In a bowl, place the raisins, cherry tomatoes and bell pepper with a good splash of balsamic vinegar and some olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Toast both side of the bread. Rub in some garlic twice on each slice, then top with the mixture, and then place the mixed salad leaves and basil leaves right on top. Finish with sprinkle grated cheese, roasted crushed walnuts, a dash of olive oil and a pinch of pepper… Simply delicious!

Variation: Top it with some smoked salmon and fresh dill

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