17.02.2021

25 Delicious, Nutritious and Planet-friendly Snack Ideas

EAT THINK EXPLORE Wellbeing Therapist
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25 Delicious, Nutritious and Planet-friendly…

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After some healthy snack ideas?

Snacking is usually my weak spot when it comes to eating well.  I’ll always have a good breakfast, and my dinners are pretty veg packed.  Lunches aren’t too bad most days either.  But I have a major sweet tooth, especially after lunch and at around 3/4pm…

Does it matter if we eat healthy snacks or not?

I’d say yes and no.  I certainly don’t beat myself up for having the odd biscuit or bit of chocolate, but we do need to be aware of the impact that’s having, especially if we have them very frequently or in larger portions…

To understand this we need to think about how the energy pathways work in our bodies.   I’m going to keep this light and simplify it, as it is really technical when you get into it!  But I think it really helps to understand what effect different types of snacks are going to have on your body to enable you to make better choices…

The costs of unhealthy snacks We miss an opportunity to get to 10 a day. 

I know you’ll mostly have heard about getting your 5 a day.  But the actual government guideline is AT LEAST 5 portions a day.  And the scientific evidence suggests that we want more like 7-10 to get all the benefits.  To do this I try to get 2 portions at breakfast, 1-2 in my snacks, 2-3 at lunch and 3-4 portions at dinner.  So we really need to try and get at least one portion a day of fruit and veg in our snacks!

Sugary snacks can send us off on the ‘blood sugar rollercoaster’

Heard of this?  If you haven’t, what essentially happens is that when you eat foods which are high in sugars (or simple carbs), the sugar gets digested and arrives in your bloodstream very fast and largely at the same time. 

Whilst sugar is essential for our brains and bodies to function, too much is toxic and can cause massive damage (think about diabetics), so our bodies release insulin to tell our cells to grab some of that sugar and store it.  If your muscles and liver are full, it goes to the fat cells. 

Our bodies are very efficient at this, and so shortly afterwards we end up with too little blood sugar, making us feel tired and causing us to look for a quick fix to the problem.  We need a dose of blood sugar quick, so we reach for another sugary snack, and the whole thing repeats throughout the day. 

Image of the ups and downs of the blood sugar rollercoaster
Why do we care about the ‘rollercoaster’?

As well as making our energy erratic, we will store more fat overall, make poorer food choices and cause a chain of inflammatory action within our bodies (sugar and its byproducts are inflammatory).  Chronic inflammation (inflammation that is present in our bodies most of the time) leads to damage to all cells of the body, causing a host of health issues and chronic diseases.  It’s also linked to obesity and diabetes.

With our bodies telling us they are hungry every couple of hours, we’re likely to reach for high-calorie foods regularly, causing us to overeat and put on weight. I don’t know many people who think that’s a good thing!

Many unhealthy snacks are also convenient and come in plastic and often non-recyclable packaging.

Ever found a chocolate packet from the 80’s in your garden?  I have!  They don’t break down.  Almost every crisp packet and chocolate bar, sweet or biscuit wrapper still exists today.  Are you ok with that?  I’m not ok with contributing to that…  Add to that the resources and energy required to produce it and ship it around the world.  We can do better!

Cost

Whilst some seem very cheap.  Compared to veg or homemade cookies, they are often more expensive.  Especially the granola bars.

snack idea chocolate chip granola bar
So what qualities should we be looking for in our snacks? To be a healthy snack idea, it should:
  • keep releasing energy steadily for a few hours (complex carbs from wholegrains, low levels of added sugar and containing proteins and fats to slow digestion)
  • make us feel full for a while (this means it needs to have some fat, fibre and protein content)
  • deliver some nutrients too (mainly through wholegrains, legumes, fruit and veg)
To be planet-friendly, it should be:
  • in little or at least recyclable packaging
  • manufactured and sourced from as close to where we live as possible
  • largely plant-based
  • relatively unprocessed
  • ethically sourced
Here are some really healthy snack ideas which fit most of these ideals: The healthiest snacks are always going to be the vegetable ones.

 

#1 - Veg sticks

Sticks of celery, carrots. pepper and cucumber can be a little plain, and not massively filling, so combine them with a fat and protein dose in a dip i.e. hummus, nut butter or soft cheese.  A tasty, healthy snack idea!

#2 - Fruit with nuts

An apple, pear, or stone fruits like peaches, nectarines can be combined with a handful of nuts to slow digestion. Try to keep your fruits and veg seasonal so they haven’t been shipped from the other side of the world.  The packets or labels normally say where they’re from – it varies a lot throughout the year!

bowl of kale crisps flavoured with cheese and paprika
#4 - Hard-boiled egg with salad

These can be boiled and kept in the fridge until you use it.  Mash it onto bread, eat as it it, or team with some salad items.

#5 - Fruit Smoothies

Make your smoothie with full-fat yoghurt or avocado (so that the fats slow the digestion of the sugars in the fruit).  Add some pumpkin seeds for an added protein hit.  Sure to be a popular healthy snack idea.

#6 - Leftover frittata

With egg, potato and some veg, this is pretty well balanced.  Make too much for lunch, and then keep some handy bite-sized pieces in the fridge for snack time over the next few days.

#7 - Roasted Chickpeas

Baked chickpeas can be flavoured with your favourite spice, and have a nice crunch like crisps. 

Check out this recipe…

#8 - Fruit with yoghurt

An apple, pear, or stone fruits like peaches, nectarines, combined with some full-fat yoghurt makes it a much more substantial snack and will keep you fuller for longer. 

Some other pretty healthy snack idea options that might be a little more tempting are:
#9 - Trail Mix

Make your own by mixing any dried fruit (avoid the sweetened kind.  Sultanas are cheap), seeds (go for pumpkin for its protein content), and nuts (hazelnuts are the most nutritious, peanuts, almonds and pistachios have the most protein).  Make it in the ratio of 4 nuts: 2 seeds: 1 dried fruits.

#10 - Banana Bread (no added sugar)

Using overripe (brown) bananas is a great way to prevent brown bananas from going in the bin, and they are sweet enough that you don’t need additional sugars.

#11 - Spiced Nuts

Roast them in the oven briefly with a little healthy oil (like rapeseed or coconut) and your favourite spices. 

#12 - Avocado on Toast

Smush the avocado onto the toast and eat – simple!  Drop in some dried chilli flakes or paprika to flavour if you want.

#13 - Energy balls

Make your own using nuts and dried fruit. They don’t usually need baking so take minutes to make! Try these Peanut and Honey ones…


Enjoying this post?  Come check it out on my site where the links to the recipes will work (I'm not sure if they do here) and you can see the full-colour version :)
Planet-friendly and healthy snack ideas - EAT THINK EXPLORE  www.eatthinkexplore.com/healthy-snack-ideas-planet-friendly 

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EAT THINK EXPLORE Wellbeing Therapist

I help working mothers with health conditions overcome barriers to improving the way they eat so they can stop wasting their time and energy on draining health conditions and instead focus on the…

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