MONDAY BASICS: snack well.

 

I am a big believer in feeding the hungry beast, aka your belly. Before I jump in to the idea behind snacking well, I want to make it clear that I really believe that if you are eating nutrient-dense meals and supplying your body with some good eats on a regular basis, foods that fill you up, you will drastically reduce those between-meals hunger pangs and cravings to a dull roar, or in my particular case, to not even a whimper. If you want a good primer on how to eat real food, inherently making your foods nutrient-dense, check out this past blog post o'mine.  Know that I have on the horizon a write up on just what is nutrient density.

But it's 2016, you say. Your days are full up. You have places to be, people to see, and sometimes grabbing food on the go is what is called for. And I get that! Heck I am writing this from my parents' kitchen counter late night about to travel all day tomorrow. It's what is fuelling this post. Eating nutrient-dense meals when out and about can feel impossible at times. But today's post is about being prepared: if you have the good things at hand, you will be snacking well. And snacking well will serve you well for the people to see and those things to do that are on today's agenda.

This post is meant to inspire a sort of template to think about, when it comes to packing snacks.

Of course if you're an all-day-nibbler, these can be the perfect way to fuel your day. If you're the kind of person who gets 15 minutes between clients and can only manage to get some food down the gullet in that short turn-around time, then this post is for you too. If you're the kind of person who gets caught up in the day's work and your to-do list, then my wish is you will find in this post some ideas on how to best fuel your day's work. If you have some traveling in your near future and want to have some snacks at hand for yourself or for any littles in your company, this is a great way to have those edibles ready for when the moment strikes. Pair a few of these together for a picnic in the park! Tis the season, after all.

How I approach this idea:

I like nutrient density. This means primarily reaching for foods that will have a healthy amount of good fats or solid hits of protein. Carbs happen to be almost an after-thought, and certainly not the main impetus behind the snacks.

Not sure as to what is considered a good fat? Check this previous #mondayhealthbasics post here for a good rundown. 

When I say good hits of protein, I mean both animal and plant-based proteins. When it comes to the animal products, I encourage you to seek out meat and dairy from animals that have been raised as they were originally intended, on pasture. Check out this previous #mondayhealthbasics post for the run-down on why you should choose grass-fed. 

 
 Smoothies can be a nourishing way to get good foods in your belly. Ensure a good fat or protein is in the mix!

Smoothies can be a nourishing way to get good foods in your belly. Ensure a good fat or protein is in the mix!

 

This list is one that I often share with clients, in order to help inspire them to draw up their own list of quick and easy nutrient-dense grabs that they can easily take with them on their way to work, or for the day of errands or traveling.

I am a big lover of all things plant-based, and pastured animal products too. I often tend to join together a good fat along with a low-glycemic fruit, or a satiating protein coupled with a veg or fruit. What I am looking to provide your body here is the nutrient-density that will slow the release of the nutrients found within the snacks, helping to keep your body satiated for a longer period of time. Eating a fruit by itself will be digested fairly quickly; it gets converted to simpler carbohydrates and sugars into your blood stream within 20-30 minutes, providing a quick hit of energy but then setting you up for a rapid slump. Eating foods high in carbohydrates and available sugars like fruit on its own (or that flaky pastry in the meeting room you just can't pass up) will contribute to blood sugar imbalances, setting you up for a crash in energy soon after, foggy brain, and further upsetting your hormonal balance.

It is this hormonal balance that plays a part in influencing your body's food cravings. By providing your body those nutrient-dense foods full of good fats and protein, you slow down the release of the entire snack to your bloodstream as it takes longer to break down fats and proteins. This slower release of nutrients will supply you with a more steady and reliable fuel source to best nourish you through your day, helping again to balance those blood sugars and assisting in balancing hormones too.

 
 

Nutrient dense munchies (plant sources)

 
 

Nutrient dense munchies (animal sources)

  • hardboiled eggs (So easy! And so filling! And so nourishing!)
  • deviled eggs 
  • pepperoni sticks from pastured animal sources, no nitrates
  • leftover bacon
  • wrap bacon around avocado slices or asparagus or green beans, bake in 400F oven until crispy
  • chicken livers wrapped in bacon, baked in 400F oven until crispy + cooked through
  • shrimp
  • smoked salmon
  • mash a can of sardines or tuna with half an avocado, add curry powder, S+P
  • cheese
  • cottage cheese
  • cup of meat stock, add chopped chives and seaweed 
  • make quick smoothies to take to work high fat yogurt or milk kefir as your base
  • add a scoop of collagen powder to your smoothies
  • chicken liver pate (this one looks delicious)
  • make big batches of easy meatballs (ground bison, onions, shredded carrots, greens)

Pair a good fat with a fruit or veg

  • Slather almond butter on banana slices, sprinkle cinnamon to make it fancy
  • Mix 1 tbsp butter with 1 tsp honey, you have frosting for your apple
  • make your own greek yogurt and add pesto for a dip with crudites (carrots, jicama, peppers, celery)
  • mix yogurt with berries and maple syrup, sprinkle on hemp seeds for added protein and fats
  • make your own guacamole with crudites or sprouted nacho chips
  • chicken liver pate with chopped veggies
  • air-popped popcorn (organic!) with lots of butter, good parmesan and hot sauce
  • core an apple, slice in rings, slather in PB and sprinkle on coconut shreds
  • almonds in raspberries
  • DIY trail mix of a nut, a seed, a dried fruit, coconut ribbons, cacao nibs
  • make your own berry yogurt bark 
  • cheese and fruit (blue cheese and raspberries; gouda and apple; brie and blackberries)
  • make-your-own jello bites aka gummies
  • celery sticks with nut butter, raisins (ants) or cranberries (fire ants)
  • tzatziki with veggie rounds
  • make easy kabobs on bamboo skewers (cheese, veg, leftover sausage pieces, etc)
  • wrap peaches or nectarines with good quality prosciutto
  • sprouted grain crackers with cream cheese and strawberries
 
 If you don't feed the beast, you may find yourself unable to say no to that flaky pastry from the lunch room. And the black coffee.

If you don't feed the beast, you may find yourself unable to say no to that flaky pastry from the lunch room. And the black coffee.

 

Straight up packaged foods when you need to keep a stash at work

  • dark chocolate coconut bars (skip the agave, aim for high fat content)
  • kale chips
  • coconut chips (read your labels – watch the oils, choose one with few ingredients)
  • good quality nut butter cups, low in sugar (read your labels – say no to agave)
  • sprouted nuts/seeds trail mix
  • halvah
  • nutrient-dense energy balls (check the ingredients)

What kinds of snacks do you reach for on your busy days? How do you play with your food when your days are busy? I'd love to know!