Picture this: You’re out running errands on a Saturday morning. In the midst of your grocery shopping, your stomach growls loud enough for everyone in the produce section to hear it! You round the corner, and there is the free-sample lady with donuts fresh from the bakery. She doesn’t have to ask twice if you want one! You feel a little guilty, but you need something to shut your stomach up, right? It’s smart for both your wallet and your waistline to have some satisfying and healthy snacks on hand.
I have always been a “grazer” when it comes to eating. If I don’t eat a little something every two to three hours, my blood sugar crashes, my stomach growls, and I get cranky. (My husband will gladly attest to this!) I frequently pack healthy snacks in my purse, my car, and my desk at the office so I have a something to hold me over until my next meal. However, many of us don’t do this. So when hunger strikes, willpower is low, and mealtime is still hours away, people frequently hit the convenience store, vending machine, or fast-food drive-thru. I know, because it’s happened to me, too. Afterwards, I mentally beat myself up for making a poor food choice and promise myself that I’ll work out an extra thirty minutes tomorrow to make up for it. (Which I never do…)
Well, it doesn’t have to be that way! By investing a small amount of prep time, you can have a satisfying, healthy snack that will carry you through until dinner time. Here are some of my favorite portable snacks.
~ Homemade or Organic Granola Bars. Most of these granola bars come in under 200 calories with no artificial ingredients. Cascadian Farms is my favorite store-bought brand, but I like to make my own. I’ve included the recipe at the end of this post for those of you who like to bake.
~ Fruit. Bananas, apple, oranges, pears, and grapes all make great snacks on the go. Select fruit that is in season for a cheap and tasty treat! Dried fruit is a great option as well and can be combined with nuts for a homemade trail mix.
~ Nuts. Whether you prefer peanuts, almonds, cashews, walnuts, or pistachios, nuts are great source of protein and healthy fat that will stop hunger in its tracks. Be aware of portion sizes so you don’t eat too many calories in one sitting. Robert Ferguson, author of “Diet-Free for Life,” says that snacks should be 100-200 calories for women and 100-300 calories for men. Certainly, you can buy the 100-calorie snack packs of nuts so you won’t have to worry about overeating. But I find it’s much cheaper to purchase a larger container of nuts and divide them into snack-sized zipper baggies with the proper portions.
~ Popcorn. Popcorn is a filling, low-calorie snack, so long as you don’t drench it in butter. Air-pop it to have the most control over how much fat is being added. Microwave popcorn is very convenient, and there are some healthy options out there. I like Orville Redenbacher’s Natural brand popcorn, the Salt & Pepper flavored mini bags. I can eat the whole bag for 160 calories, and I’m getting 4 grams of fiber. You’d best avoid popcorn at the movie theater – even the small size is a “calorie bomb,” as Ferguson likes to say.
~ Protein or energy bars. When I’m starving and dinner is still hours away, nothing holds me over like my favorite energy bar – Luna bars! I’ve tried a lot of protein and energy bars, and I’ve found Luna bars and Clif Mojo bars to be both tasty and nutritious. I like them because they are made with all natural ingredients and 70% organic. The Chocolate Peppermint Stick flavor is my favorite! It reminds me of Mint Oreo cookies. The only downside is that they can be expensive. I’ve found my best bet is to purchase a big box of them at Sam’s.
Now, when you’re ambushed by a “snack attack,” you can just reach into your glove box, purse, or briefcase and satisfy your hunger without guilt or empty calories!