Whether it’s to get you to your next meal, for the kids to fuel up between their many activities or just for a tasty treat, snacks are central to our daily eating.
With the growing number of snacks and treats that can be bought at the grocery and health food store, it’s definitely more convenient to get them already made, but is it a healthy option?
Many store-bought snacks are full of refined flours and sugars, and are loaded with unhealthy fats, colours and preservatives. Fortunately, for every type of snack lover, there’s an easy-tomake, healthy alternative that’s as nutritious as it is delicious.
The Ice Cream Queen (or King)
Somewhere inside each of us, there’s an ice cream monster that just loves sweet and creamy frozen treats. However, if you’re eating store-bought ice cream, you are getting a bit more than just a yummy mouthful.
Popular brands are full of highfat milk products, glucose-based sweeteners such as corn syrup, artificial flavourings and colours, and fillers.
Making your own healthy, instant ice cream is not only easy and delicious, it’s also a great way to sneak in an extra serving or two of fruits.
The basic recipe is to simply blend frozen fruit in a good blender or food processor with a little milk or milk substitute. Bananas offer the creamiest of blends, while berries, peaches and mangos offer delicious flavours.
Combine different fruits or add a bit of nut butter to your frozen bananas to take this treat to the next level.
The Snack Bar Addict
Granola snack bars seem like such a great idea. They conjure images of a bowl of cereal that packs flavour and enough energy to keep us and our kids going.
In reality, conventional brands – even those branded with images of nature and health – give us false energy. Loaded with sugars and refined grains, they may give us a quick burst but it’s inevitably followed by a hard crash.
For a blend of salty, sweet and fast energy, swap the snack bar for trail mix or nut butter on an apple or banana. The fruit-sugar will give you a quick boost while the protein will keep you feeling full longer and prevent an unwanted crash
If these options feel empty without the cereal grain carbohydrates, sprinkle some naturally sweetened or unsweetened granola on top.
The Salt Craver
We all need a salty snack every now and then. Unfortunately the options we normally turn to at such a time – potato chips, tortilla chips and french fries – are high in sodium, fi llers, and unhealthy fats. Even microwave popcorn is full of chemicals.
If you’re looking for a crunch with a savoury kick, celery and hummus is an excellent swap that gets high health points.
Make hummus easily at home with well-rinsed chickpeas, lemon juice, water, tahini and flavours of your choice.
For those who crave the potato as much as they do the salt, make your own fries and chips in the oven. Simply slice potatoes thinly, toss with a very light amount of oil, sprinkle with a touch of salt and bake on a lined cookie sheet until they’re crispy.
The Soda Pop-per and Juice Junkie
Sometimes we want something a little bit tastier than water and turn to fruit juices, pop and so-called vitamin waters. Full of refi ned sugars and artifi cial additives, these drinks are some of the worst culprits for obesity, high cholesterol and diabetes.
With endless flavours of tea available, a glass of iced tea has never been better. Use a fruitfl avoured or mint tea and skip the sweetener altogether. If you crave a bit of the bubbly beverage sensation, make an iced tea spritzer with club soda.
When it comes to eating well, don’t underestimate the big impact that small snack makeovers can have. These in-between meals are a great place to experiment – so swap out the refi ned carbohydrates and sneaky sugars for nutritious ingredients, and try new things.