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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DIY | Arm Candy Organizer

Image

Frequent flights across the ocean in the past year have had me searching for easy ways to pack and store jewelry. I’ve looked online at jewelry organizers but their prices and large sizes have dissuaded me from purchasing any, especially because I’m leaving so soon. Instead, I resorted to hanging necklaces off the curves of my bed frame and storing bracelets in a silver cardboard box. Until today. As I slid off the last paper towel from the kitchen roll, I realized that it could serve as a perfect bracelet holder when placed into a suitably-sized box.

It’s so simple to make & it allows for an easily-viewed display of your arm candy (bonus: you’re even recycling!)

Tools:

  • Cardboard tube from a kitchen towel roll
  • Scissors
  • Rectangular cardboard box (I use one from sunglasses)
  • Bracelets!

Steps:

  1. Measure the cardboard box and cut the cardboard tube so it fits nicely inside.
  2. Add your bracelets to the tube and place inside box.
  3. Voila, you’re done! Enjoy a better display of your bracelets.
  4. PS: If you want to make it prettier, you can paint the tube any colour/design you’d like!

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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Mini Sliders (Кюфтета!) with Tomato Marinara

Mini sliders with Tomato Marinara

Кюфтета, pronounced ‘kyoofteta’, are a typical Bulgarian prepared meat that are best translated as small beef/pork patties with spices. They resemble mini sliders without the bun and are often served with a side of Greek salad and roasted potatoes.

My grandma used to make delicious кюфтета back in the day and last night I tried to make my own rendition of these meaty delights. The side is a sautéed blend of cherry tomatoes & sun-dried tomatoes with basil.

They are so so easy to make and very tasty!

Makes around 7-8 patties.

Mini Beef Patties (Кюфтета)

  • 450 g ground beef/pork
  • 60 g grated mozzarella or parmesan (more or less, depending on your cheesiness tastes)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped basil
  • 2-3 teaspons of finely chopped rosemary and thyme
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  1. In a large bowl, mix the ground meat, cheese, and herbs. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix well!
  2. Warm skillet at medium heat and add olive oil.
  3. In the meantime, use your hands to form patties. You can make them smaller or larger depending on your taste, but they are generally a little smaller than these sliders.
  4. Place half the patties on the skillet and let them cook about 5 minutes on each side.
  5. Patties are ready when meat has browned well.
  6. Serve with a side of your choice and enjoy!

What did you make for dinner today? 🙂

Ciao!

Diana

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Café 1900 | Maastricht

On the menu: Saté van varkenshaas, met saladegarnering, 3 stokjes Translated: Saté tenderloin with salad garnish, 3 skewers

Saté van varkenshaas
Saté tenderloin

I had a good friend visit me last weekend and on her final night, she wanted to try typical Dutch cuisine. I searched around for suggestions and decided to try out Café 1900. It fit all the criteria: original location (not hardcore central plaza), good prices, and a full-fledged Dutch menu.

I made a reservation – this is suggested as the restaurant is rather tiny and it gets busy during dinner.

Café 1900 is a little out of the way – about a 15 minute walk from the Vrijthof. It has a lovely, cozy ambiance and is populated by locals rather than tourists. We were served by a lovely waiter who knew little English but got his word across and added a few bonus skewers to our dish. I ordered the Dutch saté: five beef skewers covered in dark peanut/sesame sauce next to a medium-sized salad. We had croquettes as a side which were absolutely delicious and my favourite part of the meal. Everything was fresh and tasty. The Asian white chips placed on top of the dish were the only addition that I wasn’t a fan of, but I suppose they added a touch of culture to the dish.

Definitely recommended as a cozy place to dine the Dutch way.

Apologies for the blurry phone pic!

Where is the last place you’ve dined & how did you enjoy it?

Cheers!

Diana

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

Appreciating socks

Life as a full-time master’s student has me appreciating little things that never crossed my mind as a child. I walk by the streets in the centre of Maastricht and adoringly gaze at the beautiful fall trends and the multitude of purchases we can make as consumers.  Without a job, I no longer struggle to convince myself that a new pair of leather boots is completely justified. Although there are several hardships involved with living a jobless life (it’s neither sustainable nor desirable), it does add a touch of simplicity: buy if and only if completely necessary.

Which led me to purchase a 5-pack pair of socks from H&M last week.

Polka-dots, colours, and black & white staples were all included in this pack and I have been reaping the benefits of wearing brand-new, matching, warm socks ever since. It’s a rather delightful feeling for something so inexpensive yet so simple. 🙂

Happy new socks

What have you felt an appreciation towards lately? 🙂

Good night!

Diana

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