A Smarter Way to Snack

6 Jan

Let’s be honest here: there is a lot of running around in this day in age. It often feels like we’re always on the go, trying to cram as many activities into our day as humanly possible. I can name off the top of my head a handful of things that are frustrating about this, but one of the most obvious consequences of a chaotic lifestyle is the fact that it can wreak havoc on our diet.

For instance: raise your hand if you’ve ever found yourself going through a drive through for your third burger of the week, or realizing that it’s 3pm and all you’ve had to eat is a cup of coffee and two pieces of dry toast.

Yeah.

I’m not a meal or snack skipper because I turn into a real psycho when I’m hungry, so for the longest time my standard grab-and-go snack was a protein bar of some sort. They’re high in protein, usually have enough calories to be a respectable snack, and have some protein. What’s wrong with that? Welp, here’s what was bugging me about protein bars:

1. They can be high in sugar or sugar alcohols (<- btw… YUCK)

2. The ingredient list is full of weird artificial $hit

3. Most importantly, they aren’t really real food.

So I don’t count calories or exclude food groups, I don’t do diets and if I really want something, no matter what it is, I will almost always have a little to keep me from obsessing about it because I love to eat. But when I eat, I like to eat food. As in real food, that makes me feel good and fuels my body & brain for a crazy busy day. Having a protein bar means missing out on a chance to eat real food and it didn’t take long for me to realize they really just weren’t doin’ it for me anymore.

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Here are a couple of my favorite low-maintenance, high-protein snacks that I make ahead of time and grab on my way out the door:

1. Green shake

The green shake is still my favorite because, well, it’s full of greens and protein- a hard combination to find on the go, so this has become my usual go-to. A cup of unsweetened almond milk or water, a scoop of vanilla or flavorless protein powder, some ice, a handful or spinach, a handful of kale, a handful of frozen berries and a half a banana if I want some sweetness is basically my standard mix. If I’m out an about and find myself shake-less and hungry between meals, I’ll grab a green juice (there are juiceries popping up everywhere these days, but if there isn’t one near you, Whole Foods carries brands like Suja and Blueprint, even Starbucks has a low-sugar cold-pressed green juice by Evolution available at most locations), add some protein powder and shake it up.

2. Protein Power Balls

There are so many recipes floating out there for nutritionally dense, protein-packed “power balls” now that a simple Internet search will yield plenty of results, but my favorites can be found here and here.

3. Hard Boiled Eggs

Hard boiled eggs are the ultimate easy fix- they take about 15 minutes to make, they’re considered by many to be a perfect food, and they just happen to be quite filling. Two large eggs have about 14 grams of protein and 140 calories.

4. Chia Pudding Parfait

I’m obsessed with the texture, flavor, versatility, and ease of chia seed pudding, and it really does feel a bit like eating a naughty dessert. In a jar, shake 1/3 cup chia seeds, 1.5 cups of your choice of milk (I use almond), 2 tbsp of maple sugar or honey, or stevia/sugar to taste, and 1/2 tsp vanilla (2 servings). Let it chill in the fridge for at least an hour, but the longer you leave it the thicker it will become. Layer the pudding with fruit, nuts, dried unsweetened coconut, etc.

5. Homemade Trail Mix

Any combination of nuts, seeds, and naturally dried fruit will do. My favorite is about a half cup of almonds, pumpkin seeds, goiji berries or mulberries, and a little bit of dark chocolate.

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