Do you give into the temptation of the snack machine at work, and then feel guilty? Or find yourself popping into the newsagent’s for a chocolate bar on the way home to keep the hunger pangs at bay until dinner?
The problem with most typical snack foods – such as crisps or the average chocolate bar – is that they tend to contain lots of quickly absorbed sugar or carbohydrates, with little protein or healthy fats to keep your energy balanced, and little in the way of vitamins and minerals.
So what’s the alternative? You can prepare healthy snacks at home: for example, sliced carrots sticks with hummus, or a hard-boiled egg on some oatcakes make great snacks. But these can be difficult to carry around, and require forward planning! Thankfully, there are also plenty of more convenient healthier snacks that you can buy. Try ordering them in bulk and keeping a store at work. Here are some of our favourites.
Great for: An everyday nutritious snack
Seeds are rich in a variety of minerals including zinc, which is vital for the immune system and great skin; and magnesium, which supports muscle function; as well as vitamin E – an essential antioxidant. Seeds also provide essential fatty acids and are a good source of fibre and protein, and have a low glycaemic index. What’s not to love?
Try 9Bar Super Seeds Pumpkin Original Lift. Pumpkin seeds are perhaps the most nutritious of all the seeds, making this a top choice among the 9Bar range.
Oatcakes with nut butter
Great for: A filling snack that’s sugar-free
Nut and seed ‘butters’ are just pure nuts or seeds made into a paste. They contain all the healthy fats and minerals that are found in the whole nuts or seeds, but the creamy texture makes them delicious, even to eat on their own. They’re very filling, so you only need a teaspoon spread on a couple of oatcakes to make a decent snack. The oatcakes provide slow-releasing carbohydrates to keep your energy up until your next meal.
Great for: A low-calorie, nutrient-rich snack
The ultimate in green leafy vegetables, kale is high in fibre and low in calories. It’s also highly nutritious, containing lots of vitamin C, vitamin K and pro-vitamin A (beta carotene). Kale crisps or chips are made by adding natural seasonings to fresh kale and roasting it at low temperatures. Even if you don’t like the taste of fresh kale, you must try these: they taste completely different, and are delicious!
Fruit and nut bars
Great for: An energy boost, or pre-workout snack
Fruit and nut bars combine the natural energy of dried fruits with the filling protein and healthy fats from nuts. They can be high in carbohydrates and natural sugars, so can be best for times when there are high demands on your energy, or to boost your energy before a workout.
Oat-based bars or flapjacks
Great for: Fuelling your outdoor activities
Oat bars harness the slow-releasing energy of oats. They are great for times when there are high demands on your energy. Take them with you when going on a long walk or hike, or have one an hour or so before a training session. They’re also great to refuel after exercise.
Natural protein bars or ‘balls’
Great for: Post-workout recovery, or those who need extra protein
Protein bars or ‘balls’ make an ideal post-workout snack, as this is a time when getting a combination of carbohydrates and easily absorbed protein can be useful to help refuel and restore muscles. Even if you’re not working out, they can also be a good snack if you’re feeling peckish but have several hours until your next meal, as they tend to be quite filling. They can also provide a valuable top-up of protein for those who may struggle to get enough – especially vegetarians or vegans (go for those made with plant protein such as pea or rice protein).
Nut butter squeeze packs
Great for: Low-carb on the go
This excellent invention from Pip & Nut harnesses all the benefits of nut butter in convenient squeezy packs that are easy to carry around. They’re a great choice for those who are cutting down on carbs – tasty and satisfying, yet virtually carb-free.
Great for: Low-carb dieters, or anyone looking for a healthy snack
Coconut has become incredibly popular as a health food. It ticks so many boxes: it’s low in carbohydrates, and suitable for most types of diets, from vegan to Paleo, and from gluten-free to dairy-free to nut-free to soya-free. Coconut chips are simply slivers of coconut ‘meat’ that have been gently roasted to enhance their flavour. They are high in fibre and are filling too. What more could you want in a snack?
Great for: A guilt-free indulgence
Chocolate is often thought of as a ‘junk food’. This is because most chocolate bars are highly processed and contain lots of refined sugar. But pure raw cacao beans, from which chocolate is made, are actually a healthy food. They are rich in minerals such as magnesium, as well as antioxidant flavonols that are associated with heart health. Raw chocolate is made using only low temperatures and is minimally processed to preserve all the beneficial nutrients in the cacao. So we can have a treat that’s good for us too!
Try: Ombar Centres Raspberry and Coconut. It’s made with only organic, unrefined ingredients including raw cacao.