Snacks are an essential life force. And snack attacks are real, especially in the afternoon as our blood sugar levels often tend to dip.
With Canada's new food guide placing an emphasis on getting your greens and grains on, we asked Abbey Sharp, author of The Mindful Glow Cookbook: Radiant Recipes for Being the Healthiest, Happiest You for recommendations to help you up your healthy snack game. You too can live your best small-bites life by maintaining your energy levels throughout the day.
The rule of threes
Sharp told HuffPost Canada snacking is one of her favourite past times, so much so that she dedicated an entire chapter of her book to getting her 3 p.m. fix.
"When it comes to snacks, I love to keep it simple and I try to combine three hunger-crushing nutrients: fat, fibre, protein," said Sharp, adding that these take longer to digest, so they help you feel satisfied for longer.
Sharp said even adding a few more ingredients to a traditional recipe can help you achieve her three-power -ingredient rule. For example, Sharp, a consummate lover of avocado toast, said she upgraded the standard recipe by adding in puréed white beans for fibre and protein, plus avocados, in all their creamy goodness, are bursting with good fats. Sharp balances out protein-packed cottage cheese — a snack staple — by blending it in a food processor to make it nice and smooth. Add in frozen fruit for fibre and bam, you've got a DIY fro-yo-like treat. Other simple snack combos include Greek yogurt with fruit and seeds, or roasted chickpeas with nuts.
Eat seasonal snacks
The dietitian also suggested that eating what's in season helps to switch things up, and since seasonal fruits and vegetables retain more nutrients, they have higher levels of antioxidants. Studies have also found that the level of iodine and beta-carotene in milk is higher in the summer than in the winter months — a few slices of cheddar cheese and apple slices anyone?
"For example, in the summer, I like to make a smoothie by combining wild blueberries and strawberries because they are so delicious when picked fresh! Or I may go for a DIY popsicle," said Sharp.
"And in the winter, I might make a bowl of oatmeal with apples or pears," she said, adding that depending on the weather, there are some snacks she craves more than others. "In the cold weather, I may go for a cozier snack like spiced nuts."
Snacks as mini-meals
When it comes to choosing your snacks, Sharp recommends going for the goods you actually enjoy, but in moderation.
"When you start to tune in and listen to your body's unique needs, you'll likely start to choose the foods that make you feel your best. So rather than adhering to a set of rules, aim to focus your efforts on learning to listen and trust your body's amazing wisdom," she said.
If your body's amazing wisdom usually leads to you to chocolate, Sharp said that's OK, as long as you're choosing dark chocolate, which is full of antioxidants and flavonoids.
"I like to focus more on how we're snacking instead of what we're snacking because I believe all things can be consumed in moderation," said Sharp. "Choose snacks that keep you satiated between meals, and sit down to enjoy them the same way you would a meal."
"Think of them like mini meals that should be enjoyed mindfully without distraction, rather than on the go," she said.
This aligns with the new Canada food guide recommendations, which also promotes healthy behaviours involving food, such as reminding people to be mindful while eating and to eat with others.
And with that, here are some snacks Sharp recommends from The Mindful Glow Cookbook: Radiant Recipes for Being the Healthiest, Happiest You to up your snack game.
Turmeric apricot trail mix
Pumpkin pecan pie energy bites
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