“Hot town, summer in the city, back of my neck getting dirty and gritty…” (“Summer in the City” from The Lovin’ Spoonful, in case you weren’t keeping up with me there). Or, “Sunny days. Oh, sunny, sunny, sunny days…” (“Sunny Days” from Lighthouse – I didn’t even know this was a Canadian group until just now!). That just about sums up life in Ulsan, South Korea these days. So, with the mercury rising, I’m looking for great ways to stay cool and hydrated. Ice cream comes to mind, as do slurpees, slushies and sno-cones. But what about something with a little more oomph and a little less refined sugar (not to mention artificial colours and flavours)? With more than 35g of protein and none of the junk, this Strawberry-Coconut Chia Protein Smoothie will power you up AND cool you down. It looks, smells, tastes and even FEELS like a strawberry milkshake – your tastebuds will be none the wiser. Bonus? The sound of your blender will drown out my summer ditties!
These scrumptious, moist muffins start with a better-for-you banana bread base featuring whole wheat flour, unrefined sugar and “super-fat” coconut oil and then add in chopped walnuts and decadent dark chocolate. The whole wheat flour gives them just a little bit more texture and the walnuts and coconut oil mean that they are unbelievably moist and packed with a generous serving of healthy fats to give you lasting energy and satisfaction. Sweet bananas counter with the sophistication of not-so-sweet dark chocolate chunks – just enough for a taste in each bite.
A host of flavours and textures come together in this elegant yet easy recipe. Soft, caramel Medjool dates are balanced with a fine-textured Ricotta cheese filling. The flavour of the cheese is slightly sweetened with the addition of maple syrup and a dash of cinnamon adds subtle warmth on the palate. Each creamy bite is complemented with the crunch of chopped walnuts and crisp fresh pear. You can just as easily serve this to a roomful of guests or prepare it as a delicious (and still nutritious) snack for yourself.
So, you want to learn MORE about healthy (or “healthful”) snacking? (For the grammar buffs, healthful snacks make healthy people). I’ve already given you lots of great healthy snack ideas, but just what is it that makes a particular snack choice “healthy” or at least “healthier than” other snack choices? A lot of this is unique to each of us as an individual and varies depending on time of day, previous and anticipated energy expenditures and type of exercise, etc., etc. But without writing a dissertation (although you might want to pour yourself a cup of tea or coffee because there is a lot of great reading ahead), here are some general guidelines and principles that can help you to plan, pick and prepare better-for-you snacks, even in a pinch!
Let’s face it: we’re ALL busy. Busy at home, busy at work, busy with friends, busy with family. Busy, busy, busy! Sometimes the closest I get to three “square” meals a day are the square Tupperware containers I use to transport my meals on the run. For many of us, gone are the days of leisurely sit-down family meals with lots of time to prep, cook, eat and clean up after them.
So, what fills the gap? SNACKS! And lots of experts in the realms of nutrition, dietetics and fitness advocate for eating more frequent mini-meals (a.k.a. snacks) throughout the day as a great way to keep your metabolism up and running and to keep you from getting over-hungry between meals (and therefore stave off over-eating at those meals). And, if you’re anything like me, I can’t really go more than 3 hours without eating without getting seriously “hangry” (an angry state brought on by being hungry: hungry + angry = HANGRY). Snacks are my anger (and hunger) management solution!
This post is dedicated to bringing you guidelines, tips, tricks and suggestions for healthy snack options at home and on the go! I’ll start with a host of healthy snack suggestions then you can choose to read on for some of the science behind healthy snacking. This will kick-start your learning to help you determine satisfying, nutritious and delicious snacks on your own!
A fluffy, foamy, sweet protein smoothie – this is sunshine in a shaker cup! The bright burst of orange is blended with creamy, high-protein Greek yogurt, vanilla protein powder and a frozen banana for a frosty treat before or after a workout or as a quick and healthy meal or snack. Whip it up in the blender in mere minutes and enjoy at home or on the go.
Banana bread has got to be one of the most versatile quick breads on the go (a bread leavened with baking powder and/or baking soda vs. yeast is considered a “quick” bread). Countless recipes and variations proliferate on Pinterest and elsewhere on the internet. And rightfully so! Banana bread is healthy, nutritious and downright delicious! The natural sweetness of bananas means that often no other sweetener is needed (as in this recipe) and bananas’ binding properties make them great in gluten-free baking as well. Plus, there’s something so comforting and appealing about the smell of banana bread baking in the oven. I figured it couldn’t hurt to add yet another easy, healthy recipe to the mix. High in protein (as always), this recipe is also gluten-free, low fat (no added oils or butter) and features super-trendy, delicious, high-fiber coconut flour!
Ah, cheesecake. I’ve already admitted that I consider it to be the ultimate indulgence. If I’ve committed to having dessert, a sinfully rich, not-too-sweet New York Cheesecake with raspberry topping is just something I can’t pass up. The magenta-hued berries offer the perfect pairing for this delightful dish. Their tart flavour beautifully balances the mellow creaminess of the cheesecake and their vibrant colour offers a visually arresting contrast against the warm white base. Divine decadence! And I still enjoy (and advocate for) having a full-fat, authentic slice of cheesecake heaven from time to time (ALL things in moderation). But what if I told you that I had a healthy cheesecake recipe? One that was gluten-free, low in fat, high in protein, free of added sugar but still full of rich, creamy cheesecake texture and flavour? You might jump for joy; you might weep with happiness. You might even double over in laughing disbelief. But, if you love cheesecake as much as I do, once you picked yourself up, any chance of a healthy version would have you:
Oh, Fluff! That thick, sticky-sweet, syrupy, fluffy, foamy marshmallow-y gooey goodness. Is it a topping? Is it a spread? Is it even a food? Whatever it is, it sure is delicious (or at least it was – it might be a sad side effect of being an adult that I can’t recall the last time I had a nice blob of Fluff to cram in my craw). But taste aside, I think we can agree that it is NOT a pinnacle of nutrition. Well, let me pioneer a high-protein, refined sugar-free recipe that brings you the same satisfying “squish” of Fluff, paired with its classic companions peanut butter (hello, Fluffer-nutter!) and banana!
Pumpkin. Protein. Hmmm…where have we heard THAT pairing before? I just can’t help myself. Pumpkin pie is in my top
threefive favourite pies of all time (along with Apple, Blueberry, Strawberry-Rhubarb and Pecan Pie). To me, pumpkin pie is a real standout because its flavour and texture are so rich and creamy without actually needing to be rich in fat and calories. The beautiful burnt orange colour of ripe pumpkin is so alluring and any time something with cinnamon is baking in the oven, everyone is drawn to the kitchen. This easy, healthy, high-protein recipe is a surefire way for even the most hardcore gym buffs to have their cakepie and eat it, too.