June 22, 2011

Sweet & Salty Satisfying Snacks

If there's one thing I'm sick of, it's the "healthy swaps" books and articles that suggest completely tiny, non-satisfying foods in place of the ones we love (and crave). For example, if I am desiring something sweet, a 100-calorie pack of flat, dry Oreo-flavored crisps falls pretty low on my list - and even if I did eat it, I'd end up searching out the "real thing" sooner or later, blowing my diet in the process.

The proof is in the pudding: the only thing that satisfies like food is, well, actual food.  Chemicals and additives simply will not do.

So what does bene-fit suggest when the sweet/salty/carb cravings hit?  We, like you, are not fit-starved robots - we need a treat that tastes good, feels filling, and doesn't ruin a healthy eating lifestyle.

For those who crave sweet, why not top a whole wheat Eggo waffle with a tablespoon of Greek yogurt and sliced fresh strawberries?  Another option is a s'more sundae - a single-serving Jello chocolate pudding cup topped with a crumbled graham cracker and five mini marshmallows.  Bananas can be nature's ice cream - simply freeze one and place it between two graham crackers along with a spread of your favorite yogurt.

There are, of course, those of us who want salty snacks.  A great and easy option here is a 100-calorie bag of microwave popcorn sprinkled with a teaspoon of parmesan cheese (put it right into the bag and shake it up to coat!).  A super-filling option is a small baked potato with two tablespoons of salsa and an ounce of grated low-fat cheese.  For a portable treat, roll a leaf of lettuce into a small whole-wheat tortilla and top with 1/4 cup black beans and your salsa/hot sauce of choice.

Remember, fruits and vegetables are always a healthy snack (that's why Weight Watchers recently changed their system to make these "zero-point" foods!) and can often fulfill the kinetic act of eating (a simple switch can be to turn off the "autopilot eating" around a bag of chips and switch out to baby carrots and hummus) without overloading the calories.  Foods that take slightly longer to eat and prepare can challenge you to consider whether you're really hungry or just "filling the void" - of boredom, fatigue, or stress.

Long story short, there is always a healthy snack option - simply stock your fridge with healthy snacks, prepare them to your liking (i.e. slice strawberries, wash and chop broccoli, or freeze bananas), and make a conscious choice to stay on track - even when you snack.

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