Photo: wader on flickr.
The clock hits four or five and you feel the urge to put something in your belly to keep your energy up until dinnertime.
Perhaps your blood sugar levels are low, your energy is dropping and your stomach is growling. We’ve all been there. We like to think that if we eat a nutritious breakfast and lunch, those meals should be able to sustain us until dinnertime and keep us free from any pangs of hunger. But, well, it doesn’t always work that way. That’s okay—just don’t reach for that candy bar or processed snack in a box! You may feel a little surge in energy due to the sugars or caffeine in the snack, but that energy will not last. In fact, it will only spike your blood sugar and you’ll actually feel worse than you did before the snack.
Here are 5 healthy alternatives that will tide you over and keep you feeling alive:
1. Kale Chips This is one of my favorite healthy snack alternatives. You can purchase them at your local health food store or make them yourself in a dehydrator or oven. Kale is a great super-food, rich in vitamin A and can be prepared with delicious nuts and spices, such as cashews, sesame seeds, paprika, chipotle peppers, red bell pepper and sea salt to add more zest!
2. Green Smoothie A green smoothie is the perfect way to eat your veggies (or get your kids to drink them). I like to use a leafy green such as spinach or kale, a fruit (in the summer I’d add pineapple and coconut, but in winter I may add frozen organic berries), a green super-food powder or goji berry, chia seeds, flax seed oil and coconut water. Fresh greens are packed with minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron and phosphorus. They are also high in vitamins A, C, E and K. Greens are loaded with fiber, folic acid, chlorophyll and other micronutrients and healthy phytochemicals. You’ll love drinking them and the way you feel after!
3. Nuts and Seeds Nuts and seeds are a great option to reach for when your stomach is calling out to you. They are easy, healthy and filling and you only need to eat a handful or so. They are a rich source of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, protein and omega-3 fatty acids and can be bought raw (for more nutrients) in your local health food store. You can also make your own yummy trail mix and combine your favorite varieties such as: almonds, walnuts, sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds. Nuts and seeds help lower LDL and increase HDL, which makes them a heart-healthy snack since they’re loaded with vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, vitamin E, vitamin B2 and phosphorus.
4. Protein Shake There are so many companies out there with shakes—it’s often hard to choose which one to buy. For my healthy snack alternative, I use a brand that is low glycemic, has a high quality protein and has all natural sweeteners. When I make my own, I use a raw rice or pea protein, hemp milk, raw cacao and berries. Hemp milk can be rich in vitamin B12, D, calcium and omega 3 and 6. Berries are rich in antioxidants and low on the glycemic index. Whether you choose the easy way or already prepared way, they are both healthy and filling.
5. Raw Veggies with Hummus Raw veggies are a perfect snack because they travel well. You can bring them to work and they’ll stay fresh all day. Just slice a few carrots, celery sticks, cucumbers, jicima or any other veggie and add some hummus or another favorite dip for flavor. Hummus is made of chickpeas, olive oil, lemon juice and tahini and the chickpeas in hummus are a good source of fiber, which promotes heart health. Hummus also contains many other vitamins and minerals such as folic acid, zinc and magnesium. Another favorite dip I like is a cilantro, jalapeno, walnut, garlic and olive oil mix. Yum! Now that you’ve got some new, delicious healthy snack alternatives, you may feel more energized and alert during that normal mid-afternoon lull. Try them and let me know what you think! Please share this with friends if you found it inspiring and leave your comments below!
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Ed: Catherine Monkman