What’s not to love about snacking? Eating small amounts every few hours keeps your metabolism up and your blood-sugar levels constant, avoiding mood-swings and unhealthy choices made in the grip of hunger. Snacking is fun. Not as formal or tedious as a meal, it can be an opportunity to be selfish, savouring a tasty morsel alone with total lack of regard to dining table etiquette, or to share some love – there is no culinary bonding like the kind that happens over a bowl of popcorn for two or three, or a fried chicken wing casually broken in half and offered to a friend.
Here are five healthy and delicious snacks that I’m loving right now:
Popcorn is a filling, fun and low-calorie snack. Even making it is fun! Waiting for the little explosions to start and then waiting for the rattle to subside is half the thrill. A cup of popped popcorn only contains about 30 calories, is high in fibre and contains vitamins and minerals such as B Vitamins, magnesium, calcium and zinc. If you’re looking to keep the calories down, air-popping is the best method of cooking. If not, pop in a little olive oil.
Ok, not technically a food, but a relaxing and pleasant alternative to other sugar-laced beverages like soft-drinks or smoothies. Green tea is known to be low in caffeine and rich in anti-oxidants, and the very act of brewing tea leaves in a pot is very calming.
Higher in calories than popcorn, pistachios are also a rich source of protein, omega fatty acids, and a whole array of vitamins and minerals, notably B vitamins and copper. I love pistachios in the shell. I always enjoy food that makes me work to get at it – having to crack the sharp, protective shell to get at the salted green tidbit inside makes it that much more delicious. I also find that any food which leaves a remnant behind – like shells or bones – encourages moderate consumption as you have a visual reminder of how much you’ve already eaten.
Plums are delicious. I love the dark, almost bloody colour of the skin, and the way it resists my teeth just a little before offering up the soft yellow flesh beneath. I like the surprise, as well, of waiting to see if I’ve chosen a sweet or sour plum. Nutritionally, plums are an excellent source of anti-oxidants, which help to fight the ageing process by protecting the cells from being damaged by free-radicals. They are also high in dietary fibre, vitamin A which is good for skin and vision, and vitamin C, an aid to the immune system.
Dense, creamy, smooth and a little tart, Greek yogurt provides a satisfying back-drop for any fruit, as well as high levels of calcium and pro-biotics, bacteria which live naturally in the human gut and aid with digestion. Many people who don’t digest milk well can enjoy its fermented form, yogurt, without any problems.
Sometimes we get so caught up in the weight-loss hype which extolls the virtues of eating less, that we forget that our bodies need more, but more of the right things. Use your snack times to enjoy more healthy oils, more protein, more vitamins and minerals, more anti-oxidants. Nature has provided us with a cornucopia of natural, nourishing treats. There is no reason why a healthy diet has to lead to feelings of deprivation!