Tag Archives: snacks

Monday Healthy Eating, Oct. 25, 2010

Today’s healthy eating tip:  Make convenience foods yourself ahead of time, so there’s no excuses!

Right now, I have apple-pomegranate-nut granola bars whipping themselves up in my dehydrator.  They took me a grand total of about 2 minutes to mix up, another 30 seconds to spread on the dehydrator sheet, and now I do nothing with them for the next 4 or so hours when I turn them off to cool down.  They’ve got very little sugar, tons of fiber, protein, and omega fatty acids, and no additional fat or preservatives. And they cost pennies each. Which makes them pretty much the antithesis of store-bought granola bars, which are loaded with empty calories from sugar, unhealthy fats, and things you can’t pronounce.

What’s this got to do with anything? Well, we’re all busy. Most people these days work at least one job (those lucky enough to have jobs in this economy), usually all adults in the house need to work, kids have school and a bazillion activities, and things sometimes get out of hand. This is when you’re likely to stop by McDonalds to get the kids (or yourself) a quick snack, or grab some mac-and-cheese out of a box. If that’s rare treat, then that’s totally okay. If it happens a few times a week, it’s a problem. So, this has to do with avoiding that problem.

One way I stay on track is to take a few minutes to set up conveniences foods when I have the time. The granola bars happened today both because I need them for my clients and because I had 5 minutes to spare. I keep a list of recipes on-hand, and some basic ingredients, and whip up some easy, healthy food for the pantry of freezer whenever I can squeeze it in, and it means I don’t have to resort to fast or processed foods.

You do have the time. Watching TV for an hour tonight? Take 5 minutes before your show or on a commercial to pop up some stove-top popcorn (don’t use microwave–it’s expensive, and it’s awful for you, even the “low-fat” stuff), toss it with some spritzed olive oil and your choice of spices (favorite combo of our are garlic, salt, and smoked paprika) and let it cook while you watch your show (eat some if you like, of course). Toss it into individual serving bags, and you’ve got a crunchy, low-cal, high-fiber snack for the week.  Sitting at the computer playing on Facebook? While you’re waiting for your updates, mix up a healthy meatloaf (black beans, lean ground beef, oats, an egg, spices, red & green pepper, onion, and whatever chopped veggies you want to toss in) and toss it in the oven. If you want, you can divide it up into individual serving sizes in small pyrex dishes to make lunches easier. Some of my favorite conveniences foods to whip up in a jiffy:

-Mini meatloafs

-Mini healthy muffins (there are even some decent mixes out there, and I add fruit and nuts if I use them)

-Mini frittatas

-Seasoned popcorn, pumpkin seeds, or nuts in individual packages

Boiled eggs

Dehydrator granola bars

-Cheese cubes (way cheaper to make these yourself than buy the pre-cuts)

-Homemade hot pockets (I use leftovers for filling), with a fat-free, whole wheat dough. You can even buy fairly healthy whole wheat pizza dough at some stores, and use that.

-Soup in the crockpot. There’s nothing faster: just throw in some beans, some broth, and a some veggies. If you want fancy soup, throw in some spices and canned tomatoes. Let it cook for a few hours, and you’ve got something easy for the week, or to throw in individual portions in the freezer for those lunches or dinners you just don’t have time to cook.

There’s more, I’m sure, but these are what I can think of off the top of my head. None of them takes more than a few minutes, and those few minutes save me hundreds of calories (and preservatives) every day.

To get started, just get a piece of paper and write down out what you tend to need convenience foods for: breakfasts, snacks, lunches, etc., and what kinds of things you’d like to have on-hand. Make a list and stick it up somewhere you can see it, and next time you have a couple of minutes, use those to help you make good food choices when it would otherwise be inconvenient.  There are tons of recipes on the internet for fast convenience foods, including some great whole-grain cookies (these are my current obsession)!

Planning is everything in making healthful choices, but you have to start in small steps. You’ve already started meal planning (right?), and this is just an extension of that, really. We’re all busy, and we all want those few extra minutes to do something else; but, it’s about priorities. “Convenience foods,” many of which aren’t food at all, are one of the biggest culprits behind obesity in this country, especially childhood obesity. You’ll feel better eating better food, and it only take a few times making healthy items for later before you have a nice little stash to choose from. Once that happens, you have to take those few minutes less often to replenish it.



Monday Healthy Eating

Plan your lunches.

Step away from the deli, get out of the drive-thru line, and put down that processed frozen lunch entree. Lunches are incredibly easy meals to plan, and doing so will save you calories and money while gaining nutrition and flavor.

Your lunch options will depend on your lunch facilities, so take a minute to think about it: do you have  access to a refrigerator? A microwave? Toaster oven?  Can you use a cooler if no refrigerator is available, or store a hot-bag or thermos? Once you’ve got that figured out, the rest is pretty easy.

Make a list of foods you like that fit those needs. Obviously, if you are completely without the ability to keep items cold at all (and aren’t allowed a cooler), your options are the most limited; but, their are still options. Nut butters sandwiches or wraps, fruit, nuts, baked goods,  and many more foods keep just fine for several hours without refrigeration. If you can’t heat things up and can’t carry a thermos or warm bag, you can still take many things that are great cold.

Some of my favorite lunches, not including leftovers:

  • Black bean burger wraps (pictured). I make up bean patties and toss them in the freezer, so I can just pull one out and crumble it into a wrap with whatever toppings I feel like!
  • Home made hot pockets, stuffed with everything from fresh fruit to turkey and swiss with fig jam, from meatloaf to mac and cheese! The crust recipe I use is below, adapted from this recipe in Vegetarian Magazine.
  • Miso chicken & shitake soup.
  • Boiled egg, sliced with heirloom tomatoes.
  • Pineapple tuna salad on baby spinach.
  • Miso noodles, with shredded chicken (canned works fine) and some veggies.

There are all kinds of things you can use to fill out your lunch, too. Roasted almonds (which release leptin,  the “full” hormone) sliced fruit, a side salad, homemade granola and yogurt…you get the idea. The list is endless, you just need to add a bit of creativity.

Planning your lunches for the week will help keep you on the healthy-eating track, and it’ll make you the envy of the office!

Hot Pocket Crust Recipe

  • 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 Tbs. cold butter or trans-fat free margarine (or soy margarine)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 Tbs. apple cider or white wine vinegar

Get the mixing directions here, and while you’re at it, you should really try the empanadas. They’re amazing.

Favorite Post-Workout Snack

It’s hotter than Hades here, and I often forget to eat, or just plain don’t want to, much of the time. This is common with me in hot weather, and something I’ve had to watch for years. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that I work out hard daily, and really need to make sure I am getting enough calories, protein, and nutrition.

So, I’ve been making a point of eating small snacks and at least trying some food during each meal. There are snacks I rely on, like yogurt and salads; but, changing it up is good, too. Today, I really wanted ants-on-a-log, but alas we’re out of celery. What we do have, though, are bananas! So:

Bananas, topped with organic (no-sugar) peanut butter, roasted walnuts, and raisins. Stuck in the freezer for about 10 minutes, and drank with glass of heavily-diluted sekanjabin. Great snack. Easy, cool, healthy, lots of vitamins and minerals. Perfect!

I’d love to hear your favorite post-workout snacks!