Smart Snacking | Healthy Snack Ideas

Pumpkin seeds, dried fruit and dried figs.
[click for larger image]

Everyone gets hungry in between meals at one time or another. For some, the hunger pangs come shortly after breakfast. For others, it’s in the big gap between lunch and dinner. 2-6 pm is my usual snack time and I can even pinpoint it down to around 4. Although there is always something small to grab to feel satiated before dinner, the challenge is finding something healthy.

I discovered my snack go-tos when I visited a health food store here in Maastricht, called De Tuinen. They offer bags of different types of dried fruit, seeds, and nuts. These foods are not only satisfying – a little goes a long way! – but they are also very healthy and keep the hunger under wraps until dinner.

In the image, you can see the snacks I currently opt for: pumpkin seeds, dried figs, and a medley of dried fruit. I like to place them in old jam jars once I’ve opened the bag. It makes for easier storage and keeps them fresh longer.

What’s healthy about my snacks?

  • Dried figs: While some fruits can lose a portion of their nutrition when dried, figs lose none of their potency. They are high in iron, folic acid and potassium. [Source: Healthiest Dried Fruits ]
  • Pumpkin Seeds: They are loaded with healthy fats, fiber, zinc, iron, manganese, and magnesium, making them an incredibly nutritious snack.
  • Dried dates: They are rich in dietary fiber, contain flavonoid polyphenolic antioxidants known as tannins, and are an excellent source of iron.
  • Dried banana chips: These are the least healthy of the bunch and there is some controversy about how much nutrition they add. Make sure to look for banana chips that haven’t been fried! Their nutrition value plummets if they have not been baked. Apart from this, they are a source of fiber and potassium. You are better off eating these rather than a chocolate bar!

Other healthy snack ideas  (enjoy in moderation!):

Sweet

  • Peanuts, almonds, walnuts
  • Sliced banana with peanut butter
  • Goji berries, blueberries, strawberries (any type of berry!) in your favourite healthy yogurt
  • Dried mango, pineapple, cranberries
  • And regular fruits too of course: bananas, grapes, oranges, the list goes on.

Savoury

  • Sliced tomato with feta and olive oil
  • Edamame
  • Popcorn (without the butter overload)
  • Baby carrots with hummus

What are your daily snack go-tos?

Happy Friday!

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Mindful Eating

A Delicious Slice of Kiwi

A recent article in Tiny Buddha reminded me of mindful eating. It is something I’ve attempted in the past but have forgotten about over the months. I usually begin cooking when I already feel hungry and by the time dinner/lunch is ready, I wolf my meal down in minutes. This often results in being more full than desired and finishing dinner faster than anticipated.

Today I decided a different approach to eating dinner. Instead of rapidly consuming the freshly prepared plate of warm rice pilaf sitting in front of me,  I was fully aware of the flavour and texture of every single bite I took. It took a few more minutes to finish my meal but I found a new sense of appreciation and pleasure in the food that I was eating.

While mindfully eating, I sensed the precise time I felt full. An added bonus for a happy tummy.

Tips for Mindful Eating (Source:  Tiny Buddha – Stop Devouring Food)

  1. Examine your emotions. Are you eating a chocolate bar because you’re hungry or because you’re stressed out about an upcoming deadline or a conflict with a friend? Be aware of what emotion you are experiencing when you feel the urge to eat. Emotional eating is harmful and not a useful coping strategy for stress.
  2. Choose a fruit you love and really take your time in consuming it. Feel its texture, flavour, sweetness, and purity. Really take the time to enjoy it. You will notice a new sense of appreciation for the fruit. Take the kiwi above as an example. Imagine how the bright green colours will blend as you chew and the burst of sweetness you will experience with every bite.
  3. Express gratitude. This relates to the food that you’re eating. Think about how this food got to the table. Did a family member cook it? Was it prepared by a chef? What about the farmer that originally grew the vegetables? Expressing gratitude allows you to be in the moment and for daily stressors to briefly dissipate as you enjoy you meal.
  4. Savour the flavour. Feel the texture of every bite you take. Feel the crunch of your teeth and the blending of spices and ingredients. You will gain a new appreciation for the food that you are eating.
  5. Make it a habit. Mindful eating will have you appreciating your meals to a greater extent and have you eating only until you feel satisfied. The benefits are great.

Have you tried mindful eating?

Good night!

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The Art of Following a Careful Diet

Today’s FODMAP friendly dinner 🙂

This post is not about losing weight or even about being nutritious. It’s about being aware of what your body likes and dislikes when it comes to food. I’ve been discovering over the years that my body dislikes many things. It began with dairy products, then fructose (goodbye my beloved apples and honey!), and then garlic, onions, beans, and God knows what else.  I learned that in order to feel healthy, satisfied, and well, I need to be very careful about what I eat.

So I began focusing on FODMAP.

It has been a year since I began carefully watching my eating habits and the outcome has been tremendously positive.

Most of my recipes will focus on FODMAP friendly ingredients. Perhaps a little garlic or honey will pop up from time to time, but I use minimal amounts that result in no particular effect – at least for me.

Do you follow a FODMAP or any other special diet? Would love to hear from you!

– Diana