More About Snacking…

Snack_Attack HP

Let’s face it—it’s a snacky world out there! So here’s some news that will make you feel good about your 3 pm pick-me-up (provided it’s healthful, that is). Oh, and if you are looking for some snack suggestions, I’ve got a few of those, too…

To review: Like I said in my previous post on this topic, snacks are not a bad thing. But there are stipulations, people (read that last post again if you need a reminder). Choose wisely, my friends, and your body will thank you (plus you can feel a little smug about your snack selection).

apple snack

Now, for the news…The NPD Group, a market research company, recently released some info from a report they’ve done called “Snacking in America,” and get this: consumers that follow the healthiest diets snack twice as often as those with less healthy diets. In fact, those healthy diet folks ate 36% more “snack meals” per year than the “average” consumer. The report also found that those following a “most healthy” diet eat a wider variety of more healthful snack foods, such as yogurt and fruit. That’s some snack-a-licious news, right? I don’t have the actual report (they cost thousands of dollars typically), so I’m operating from a press release about the report here (not my fave thing to do journalistically), but this makes a bit of sense really

. If one chooses healthy snack foods, then one’s diet can be improved nutritionally, as I discussed in the last snack post. But as for why these healthy diet consumers snack more, I’m not exactly sure. It could be that they also exercise more and so have a pre- or post-workout snack, for training you need to use the right equipment as Kickstarter shoes and the right cloth. It could be that they tend to eat more frequent but smaller meals throughout the day (some people do that in an effort to stabilize their blood sugar and provide themselves with sustained energy throughout the day). This would be in line with the report’s terminology of “snack meals” as well. In any case, I found it interesting, as we sometimes have a tendency to think of snackers as being less healthy individuals than those who don’t snack as often. Bottom line: when you need a snack to keep you chugging along, go for the healthy ones (for the most part). So, here are a few suggestions…

Natural Nibbles

crudites

First off, whole, natural foods are the best choice: fruit, veggies, low-fat dairy products (if you tolerate them, of course), and thingslike nuts and seeds, provided they are packaged in a G-free facility. These foods should make up the bulk of one’s snacks in order to get the most nutrients out of the calories you’re adding to your diet. Yes, all manner of fruits and veggie sticks are fine (see the nice display at right), but maybe you need more ideas:

  • Hard boiled egg (peel it ahead of time for a portable protein workday snack)
  • Edamame (micro the pods, shell and eat with a sprinkle of salt if desired)
  • Frozen grapes (incidentally, frozen peas are very tasty, too–learned that from my  neighbor who runs a daycare—the kids love them!)
  • GORP (Good ‘ol raisins and peanuts—you went to camp, didn’t you?)

Quick Combos

Here are a few ideas for easy ways to put a couple gluten-free foods together to make a tasty snack to suit your whim

  • Guacamole and G-Free chips
  • Apple butter (or pumpkin butter) on a G-free waffle, toast or rice cake (and lucky you, we’ve got a recipe for that from our book!)
  • Cup of soup and some safe crackers
  • Nut butter with bananas, apples or pears

guacamoleDon’t forget about having leftovers for a snack; most leftover entrees or soups will contribute a wider range of nutrients than a single snack food item. Also, gluten-free cold cereal is fine for a snack—and again, contains a lot of nutrients in general, as well as some fiber if you choose wisely. And if you feel like stirring up snacks that require actual recipes and need some ideas, here are a couple places to go: Cooking Light magazine and  Eating Well magazine are a couple of my personal favorites, and Living Without has a big recipe database as well.

Packaged Snackage

Of course, we all need a treat now and then, and some of the time we may not feel like making those treats from scratch. So. what to choose when a cookie or cracker craving hits? Here are a couple that I like (but there are more good gluten-free snacks hitting the market every day, so look around and read those labels):

Do you have a favorite brand of gluten-free snack? Do tell!

— Kit Broihier, MS, RD, LD

Photo credits: Oprah.com, Blue Diamond, Oxygenmag.com, Sparkpeople.com

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