Snacks you can feel good about

Happy New Year everyone!

One of my resolutions is to be more active on this blog. I have been gaining more followers and I don’t want to lose them out of boredom. Sooooo, you can definitely expect to see more from me this year! Hurray!

To start it off, we’re going to talk about snacks, because who doesn’t love snacks? Many of my clients feel that snacking is a bad thing. They feel guilty and hang their heads in shame when they admit to me they’ve been munching between meals. What do I tell them? Snacking is a good thing! It helps keep you satisfied when it’s not time for a meal, and can actually help keep you from overeating when you do have a meal. HOWEVER — WHAT you snack on very much matters. I’m always being asked for suggestions, so to help you make smart choices, I’ve compiled a list of snacks that you can enjoy without feeling guilty.

General rules – For most people, snacks should be under 200 calories and should contain at least two food groups — one of which should be a protein or healthy fat. If you eat only carbs, the satisfaction won’t last long and you’ll be hungry again in no time. Some great combinations:

  • Apple with 1 Tbsp peanut butter
  • Baby carrots with 1/4 cup hummus
  • Trail mix: 2 Tbsp dried fruit, 2 Tbsp raw almonds, 1 tsp dark chocolate chips
  • 6 oz Greek yogurt with 1/2 cup sliced fruit and 1 Tbsp hemp seeds
  • Small banana with 1 Tbsp almond butter spread on it
  • 1 slice whole grain toast with 1/4 avocado smashed on top
  • Homemade smoothie, such as the one below: 1 cup almond milk, 1 cup desired fruit, 1 cup baby spinach

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Now, for specific products:

Bars – you must be careful with these. Look for bars without HFCS (high fructose corn syrup), soy protein isolate, or ingredients you can’t pronounce. They often have over 200 calories and are loaded with sugar, so I don’t generally recommend a bar unless it’s meant as a post-workout refuel and meets the criteria above. Protein bars from GNC or other “nutrition” stores are usually poor quality. The brands I like:

  • Larabar (particularly Alt as they have 10 g of plant protein)
  • Kind (including Healthy Grains)
  • Kashi GoLean roll
  • Raw Revolution
  • Chia Warriorraw revolution

Really, you should make your own. There are tons of recipes out there. I love to make the energy balls from Rich Roll’s The Plantpower Way book:

  • 8 Medjool dates, pitted (soak in water for 30 minutes before making the recipe)
  • 1/4 cup cacao nibs
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 4 Tbsp hemp seeds (Walmart carries them)
  • 1/4 cup walnuts

Grind walnuts in the food processor until mealy. Add in the nibs, cocoa powder, and half of the hemp seeds.  Add dates one at a time and blend until everything is a paste consistency. Turn off the food processor, remove the blade, and roll into balls. Roll the balls in the rest of the hemp seeds. The way I make them I usually get about 16 balls out of it, and 3 of them would equal about 180 calories.

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The energy balls I made last week.

Salty – when I say salty, I simply mean they taste salty. Everything listed here is still considered low sodium, although many of them don’t taste that way! Some Jean-approved products:

  • Skinny Pop — all varieties
  • Lesser Evil popcorn (try the wasabi — yum!)
  • Air-popped popcorn (not microwave…the bags have cancer-causing chemicals, yuck!)  — Can you tell I like popcorn??
  • Most brands of kettle corn
  • Newman’s Own protein pretzels (hard to find, Vitacost has them)
  • Snapea Crisps
  • The Good Bean crispy crunchy chickpeas
  • World Peas (see my review in the previous post)
  • True North Nut Clusters (bonus: also sweet!)

Sweet – now let me be clear on something: this should NOT be your first choice and should NOT replace healthier snacks. Sugar does not keep you full and you will likely end up craving more if you’re not careful. Treat these as desserts or emergency supplies (you know, like if you’re having the worst day ever or PMS). I personally allow myself a couple of pieces of dark chocolate every day after lunch, but wouldn’t eat it in place of my morning snack. It’s all in the balance! Some 200 calorie ideas:

  • Five Ghirardelli dark chocolate squares
  • 2 Tbsp dark chocolate-covered nuts
  • 1/2 cup ice cream (preferably non-dairy versions like cashew or almond)
  • 9 Hershey’s kisses
  • 2 fun-size candy bars

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Happy snacking!

Product Review: World Peas

20151113_110403 I received a packet of these in my most recent Urthbox (for those not familiar, it’s a subscription that delivers you a little box of vegan snacks every month.) While I’d tried World Peas products before and thought they were good, I had never had the ranch flavor. It should be noted that I’m a sucker for ANYTHING ranch-flavored, so I was thrilled to pull this little bag of goodness out of the Urthbox. I was so impressed with the flavor and nutritional content that I decided to write the company and request some samples. Lucky me — they said yes, and sent me a whole box of these bad boys!! I did a happy dance when I opened the box, for sure! I promised the company a product review, so read on.

Flavor: The peas are crunchy but not dry, and have a great, authentic ranch taste. They taste salty without actually BEING salty. My taste buds were jumping for joy!

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Nutritional value: non-GMO, vegan, gluten-free, low sodium, and cholesterol free. There aren’t too many dietary needs that these wouldn’t accommodate.  They might even be Paleo, but I’m no expert in this area. The label may be hard to read, so here is the breakdown:

(per packet)

160 calories, 3 g fat, 230 mg sodium, 22 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 6 g protein.

Are they a nutritional powerhouse? No…..but as a salty snack goes, these still blow chips out of the water. You won’t find many chips with this type of protein content, so that was a big plus for me. The protein in these will fill you up longer (the fiber helps too) and you’re saving a significant amount of fat as well. For comparison, standard snack chips have 7-8 grams of fat per serving.

Price: The company website sells these for $15 for a pack of 12, which equivocates to $1.25 per 1.2-oz serving. Vitacost also sells a 5.5-oz bag for $3.69. Overall, these are a good value.

Convenience: I’m the weirdo who always keeps snacks in my glove compartment, so these fit the bill perfectly. (I have two of these in there right now, in fact.) Portable and healthy is an important combination!

The World Peas Snacks company urges you to “go ahead and give peas a chance.” I would have to agree!