Healthy snacking does not have to be complicated or expensive.
With some smart preparation, you can make healthy and balanced snacks that keep you going through the day. These snacks are all designed for better blood sugar balance, so you can get slow energy release to support your lifestyle.
Slow energy release from food can be achieved by consuming adequate amounts of fibre and protein. All the snacks listed are designed with this combination in mind.
Protein and fibre help balance blood sugar levels by creating a delay in sugar release into the blood streams.
Protein is highly satiating and helps you make a calorie saving because it's energetically costly to break down and digest.
Fibre can bulk up in your stomach, giving a feeling of satiety. Most people in the western world are lacking in fibre. Upping your fibre consumption can make a huge difference to your overall health due to its benefits for the gut, protective actions in cardiovascular health and the support it provides for weight management.
Here are my top 5 favourite snacks that are easy to prepare, cost efficient, highly nutritious and portable:
1. EDAMAME BEANS
Edamame beans act as a nutritionally complete plant-based snack by itself. It's a great source of plant protein and fibre rich carbohydrate. You can find edamame beans in the frozen aisles of most major supermarkets.
To prepare this snack, add 1 cup of frozen edamame beans (with or without the pod) to a bowl. defrost in the microwave (it takes less than a minute). Pat dry with a kitchen towel and serve alone or with sea salt and chilli flakes for extra flavour.
2. EGGS & SPINACH
This is a snack I swear by. Eggs are delicious and a complete source of animal protein. They are high in choline, which is an essential nutrient vital for a healthy nervous system, fat transport and cell messaging, just to name a few.
For this snack all you need is a small handful of spinach, top with a little drizzle of lemon juice for a little touch of vitamin C and serve with two hard boiled eggs.
3. CUCUMBER & HUMMUS
Crunchy veg with a dip is a delicious way to satisfy cravings and to add lots of nourishment to your body. I am a huge fan of chickpeas for plant protein. It's one of those plants that offer plenty of fibre and a healthy amount of protein. Partnered cup with cucumber, which is fibre rich and calorie friendly, it's a match made in food heaven.
To prepare, use 1/3 of a large cucumber (you can also use bell peppers, carrots or veggie of choice), if you are making this ahead of time you need to remove the seeds to avoid sogginess. To remove the seeds, simply cut them out with a knife or scrape with a spoon. Cut the veggie into fingers.
Make a bed of hummus (1-2 tablespoons), drizzle with 1 teaspoon of olive oil for healthy fats and add a little paprika or chilli seeds for extra flavour.
Drizzle the content of your container with a little lemon juice for a touch of vitamin C, this also helps keep your snack fresh overtime.
4. POPCORN & NUTS
I have never met someone that doesn't like popcorn. These crunchy delights are packed with fibre. I use a low calorie ready popcorn (the brand is called PROPER). Partnering is carbohydrate rich snack with a good protein source is vital for healthy blood sugar levels, almonds tend to work very well for this combination. Feel free to use any other nut you prefer.
One serving of this snack is 1 cup of popped popcorn and 6-10 almonds or a moderate handful of nut of choice.
5. PASSION FRUIT YOGHURT
This is by far my favourite snack on the list. Yoghurt is my go-to protein of choice and I enjoy it on a daily basis. Partnering yoghurt with a high fibre fruit is a delicious way to pack in some nutrients. If you don't like passion fruit, you can use any fruit of choice (great options include berries, banana, apple and peach).
For this snack you need 2-3 tablespoons of yoghurt (I use the Yeo Valley Kefir yoghurt). If you want a touch of sweetness, mix in a teaspoon of stevia (optional). Layer the yoghurt on top of the passion fruit (use the pulp of 1 passion fruit).
Iman Hassan (BSc, ANutr)
Registered Private Nutritionist
Weight management specialist
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