Snacks! I recall when I first really started eating clean, and restricting to my diet to healthy fats, fruits & veggies and grains, I felt like I was condemning myself to a snackless life. Nope, fruits don’t count. I mean they are delicious, and they are snackable, but an apple will never be a pretzel, no matter how much you twist it! But, even in my sugar mourn, I thought there had to be an alternative solution to just apples and carrot sticks. In fact, that’s where most my food research and discoveries derive from: my resistance to a monotonous food life. I really hardly ever eat the same thing the same way. And with enough scanning the shelves, being brave enough to enter the center aisles (yes, even Whole Foods is a danger zone when you leave the perimeter, but that’s a blog for another day (and soon! they pissed me off again, recently…)), and reading enough of those freebie health watch magazines–I have devised quite an extensive snack food cabinet. By the way, those little 12 page magazines they give away can have some of the best recipes and new product watch information!
Before I go into my list of fave’s, let’s first be clear on the snack food requirements, and rules for execution (or, consumption if you prefer 🙂 ). Here are the rules: There most be at least one whole grain listed as the number one, main ingredient before anything else. And it should be an interesting one. Not simply whole wheat everytime (by the way, everyone knows that “wheat flour” is just another word for white/enriched flour, right? Good. Check.), and preferably lots more whole grains somewhere in the very short list of ingredients. Which brings me to the next rule: There should only be a short list of ingredients, and the producers shoudl be really proud of them, and express so somewhere on the package. They may even put the ingredients on the front of the package, or write them in funny font, or rave about them elsewhere on the packaging. Next: No added refined sugar, period. No sugar, with exceptions. Sugar naturally occuring in grains is of course great, and if there’s dried fruit involved that’s sort of okay too, but it should be further down the list. My next rule: Avoid added oils. And if there are oils, then make sure it’s high oleic (these oils are able to be baked at high tempuratures due to a lower level of Omega 3’s, which eliminates hydrogenation from occuring (by the way, the high amounts of healthy omega 3’s in Olive Oil makes it UNsuitable for cooking, as it becomes toxic at high temperatures), thus providing the healthful effects of lowering cholesterol, etc.–it’s never going to be like eating the fats of an avocado, but its something your body will be able to sort of smile about!). And finally, the snack must be versatile! I want to be able to dunk it, smear it, crunch it, layer it, and love it. Phew! That’s a lot of rules! Aren’t you glad I did the leg work for you! Now, if all these rules are followed–no sugar, lots of grains, healthy fats, short list of pretentious ingredients–I don’t even bother looking at the calories, because I know they will work for my body.
Now, last but not least, a snack is just that–a snack. It is not a meal replacer, it’s a meal accompaniment. Preferably with a veggie or fruit along with. Think nut butters (PB2!) and celery or apple. Or guacamole and hummus with a few carrots, or dilled cucumbers. They are not to be grazed on the whole day long, but rather enjoyed at a designated time. And if you feel so compelled, count it out. Make a serving size for yourself, separated out from the rest, because believe me–it will be hard to put the package down once you’ve started!
Stay tuned for some of my fave sweet snacks, and a few more salty ones too!!