Managing hunger levels is one of the keys to weight loss & maintenance.
One of the easiest ways to manage hunger is to have mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks. This ensures that your hunger levels stay consistent throughout the day; never allowing yourself to get to the point of too full or starving.
Knowing you have a snack built into your daily meal plan will stop you from overeating at your main meals, and will prevent you from going into a meal starving, which usually leads to overeating.
Also, when we allow ourselves to get to the starving point our blood sugar drops, and we crave anything that will get it back up again; aka white carbs & refined sugar.
Not any snack will do
All that being said, it’s important that you choose the right kind of snacks. Here is a list of criteria that you should consider when choosing a snack:
-Should be a combination of fibre or healthy carbs & protein to keep you feeling satisfied longer
-If you choose a snack that is high in fructose (ex. apple), make sure you combine it with a protein (ex. almond butter) to prevent your blood sugar from spiking
-Should be between 150 – 250 calories maximum: keep in mind this is a snack; anything higher starts to embark into the meal category
This weekend I made some fruit & nut bars that are perfect for maintaining hunger levels. They are a combination of dried fruit (source of fibre), nuts (source of protein & healthy fats), whole wheat flour, coconut sugar (natural & doesn’t spike your blood sugar) and egg. They are the perfect combination of chewy, crunchy, sweet & salty and they are super easy to make.
The bars include 3 different types of dried fruit: apricots, dates & raisins that I consider healthy choices:
-source of non-heme or vegetarian iron (heme iron can cause inflammation & risk of toxicity especially in men), fiber and beta-carotene (converts into vitamin A in the body, which is good for healthy skin, hair & eyes)
-source of fibre & potassium
-source of antioxidants
NOTE: look at the nutrition label before buying dried fruit, and make sure there is no added sugar, oil or preservatives
Chewy Crunchy Fruit & Nut Bars
1/3 cup whole wheat or spelt flour
1/3 cup coconut palm sugar
1/8 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp sea salt
1 cup dried apricots chopped
1 cup dates chopped (can buy pre-chopped at Bulk Barn)
1 cup California raisins
1 cup roasted unsalted peanuts (can use any nuts you like)
½ cup raw almonds roughly chopped
½ tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 325F
Line a small square baking pan with parchment paper
Measure out dried fruit & nuts and set aside
In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon & salt. Stir in fruit & nuts until they are fully coated.
In a small bowl combine the egg & vanilla and whisk until frothy (2 minutes).
Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until fully coated.
Spread mixture into baking pan, and smooth with a spatula.
Bake for 35 – 40 minutes or until golden brown.
Once cooled, pull out of the pan using the parchment paper, and cut into squares. Store in the fridge or freezer – enjoy!
Healthy snack options
Here is my list of healthy snack ideas that you can start incorporating into your diet to help manage or lose weight. Happy snacking!
-Banana + 1 tbsp all-natural peanut butter
-Sprouted bread or Ryvita Rye Cracker + 1 tbsp almond butter
-Mary’s Organic crackers + ½ cup cottage cheese
-1 of Lauren’s Chewy Crunchy Fruit & Nut Bars
-Fruit salad + chia seeds
-5 Dried apricots + 10 almonds
-2 tbsp Homemade Hummus + cucumber & cherry tomatoes
-Frozen wild blueberries + Greek yogurt
-Date & almond smoothie: 1/2 banana + 2 dates+ almond milk +2 tsp. almond butter
-2 Clementine’s + 5 almonds + 1 date
-1 apple + 1 tbsp almond butter
Here’s a sweet reminder to buy Florida grapefruits – they are loaded with health benefits and are in season & on sale right now!
PS. The beautiful pictures of fruit in this post were taken by professional photographer & friend Steve Domjancic. And there are more where that came from so stay tuned!