Summer is a time for fun, play and let’s face it, a bit of indulgence. When you add up the long list of BBQs, games nights, pool parties, dock parties, boating, dinners out, guests visiting, it's no wonder you're craving ice-cream at 11 am or a glass of wine by noon. And somehow (despite exercise, walking), we are all a little heavier than the start of the summer and feeling just a tad bloated.
That's o.k. It's time to take ownership and own it.
So as we wind down August, I’m trying to incorporate some healthy snack ideas NOW that will help me start to rebalance my blood sugar and weight. I want to start September on the right foot. I need to be calm, cool and collected as I start my new job. And I know me. I will be irritable if my blood sugar is out of whack.
Snacking is not recommended in all situations, but it is a good first step when blood sugar is out of balance.
So, what’s my snack criteria?
Snacks must be nutrient-dense and whole foods (not in a package). They need to contain protein and/or fibre. And they have to be delicious. With this criteria, they will stoke metabolism so I will burn more calories, even while sitting poolside on the remaining days of summer.
1. Nuts And Seeds
Nuts contain calories and fat, but they are NOT fattening! And studies show that people who eat nuts tend to be healthier and leaner. Kids who eat nuts and seeds also go better at school.
They contain protein and fibre, which means a small amount can go far in terms of filling you up. And they contain, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats.
There are also countless studies that show almonds helping with weight loss. At least 10% of the fat in them is not absorbed by the body, and almonds can also help boost your metabolism!
TIP: This week, take seven snack-size ziplock baggies or small containers and add two servings of raw, unsalted nuts/seeds. This way, you have a portion-controlled snack you can grab and go - for work or play.
What’s a serving? 10 large nuts (walnuts, almonds, pistachios) or 2 tablespoons of seeds. Almonds, walnuts, macademia nuts, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds are my preferred selection as they are higher in nutritional value and anti-inflammatory.
And just to be clear - I’m referring to PLAIN nuts and seeds (not “honey roasted” or Starbuck’s “crème brule” - those are fattening).
2. Fresh Fruit
As with nuts, studies show that people who eat more fruit, tend to be healthier. I’m sure you’re not too surprised!
Yes, fresh fruit contains sugar, but whole fruits (not juice or dried) contain a fair bit of water and fiber. They are also high in nutritional value with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. And fresh fruit is low in calories.
Fiber helps fill you up (known as the "satiety factor") and slow the release of the fruit sugar into your bloodstream. This reduces the notorious "blood sugar spike" you experience with dried fruit, juice and other forms of fructose (sugar found in fruit).
TIP: The fall harvest is in full swing. Try a variety of fruit (peaches, plums, apricots, pears, apples, berries, etc.) and pair that with a handful of nuts.
3. Chia seeds
This is one of my personal favourites…
Chia is not only high in fibre (like really HIGH in fibre), but it also contains protein, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, calcium, and magnesium.
Can you see how awesome these tiny guys are?
They also absorb a lot of liquid, so by soaking them for a few minutes, they make a thick pudding that is delicious and fills you up.
Tip: Put two tablespoons in a bowl with ½ cup of nut milk and refrigerate for a couple of hours. It will form a thick pudding. Add in some berries, chopped fruit or nuts, and/or cinnamon and enjoy! This is so simple for when you’re craving a creamy reward (as we kick the ice cream habit).
4. Boiled or poached eggs
I recommend eggs a lot. Why? Because they are packed with nutrition, found mostly in the yolk. They also contain high-quality protein and a good amount of vitamins and minerals.
Recent research shows that the cholesterol in the yolks is NOT associated with high elevated cholesterol or heart disease risk.
Yup, you read that right! I suspect eggs get a bad cholesterol reputation because of how people prepare and serve eggs (refined bread, butter, bacon, sausage, sugary beans). Hard boiled eggs have none of this.
Tip: Boil a bunch of eggs and keep them in your fridge for a super-quick (and nutritious) snack! I usually do 6 at a time for a few days.
Or click here for an easy egg-cup recipe you can make in advance as a snack-and-go. Much cheaper than Starbucks.
I don’t need to tell you how great these are for you, but just maybe I need to sell you on the delicious “snackability” of these nutrition powerhouses.
Veggies contain fibre and water to help fill you up, and you don't need me to tell you about their vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, right?
And they appeal to kids and adults alike. The “veggie tray” at a party or gathering is usually quickly demolished because people love them. Vegetables give you crunch and paired with a dip, deliver the creamy + crunchy combo we all love.
Tip: Expand your vegetables beyond celery, carrots and cucumber. Peppers, green beans, daikon (non-spicy radish), cherry tomatoes, snap peas, farm-fresh peas, fennel bulb, radishes, broccoli, cauliflower – explore!
This is the perfect week to think about getting “back on track” with your nutrition routine. I challenge you to incorporate one or more of these healthy snacks into your daily routine. Start with small, attainable goals. And keep working up from there.
Prepare them the night before for work or play. They will not be "tasteless," like "cardboard," or "completely unsatisfying." Trust me. Your body will thank you.