Snacking (consuming food and drinks between your regular main meals) is a widespread habit in the UK with 95% of people admitting to snacking (Mintel, 2019). But while it might be easy and tempting to reach for something delicious but unhealthy like chocolate, biscuits and crisps, learning how to choose your snacks wisely can keep energy levels up, satisfy your cravings and help form healthier habits.
According to the British Nutrition Foundation, snacks can very easily fit into a healthy, balanced diet by complementing other foods eaten during the day and providing you with essential nutrients. Additionally, it can keep you from becoming ravenously hungry when your main meals are spaced further apart in the day and help you avoid making poor food choices later.
Relying on chocolate, crisps, cakes and biscuits brings little or no nutritional value to your diet and may lead to obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. But switching to healthier substitutes and resisting temptations may not be an easy task, that’s why we’ve put together a list of flexible and nutritional recipes to guide you towards healthier snacking habits.
DIY Gourmet Bistro Box
The best thing about this DIY snack box is that you can personalise it by adding your favourite bites and it’s excellent to pack for work or even take it with you on the go.
What you need: a hard-boiled egg, cooked chicken or turkey pieces (leave the skin out for less fat), 1 slice of low-fat or reduced-fat cheddar, a couple of wholegrain crackers, a few carrot sticks and grapes.
Start with packing some protein to give you energy and help you feel fuller. Proteins are a fundamental part of your diet as they support your body in growing and repairing. Some great sources for protein are eggs, meat and cheese, but if you want to make your box vegan-friendly, replace with a handful of nuts. Then add some fibre-filled wholegrains such as bread sticks or crackers. Don’t forget to round it out with fresh fruits and veggies that can count towards your 5-a-day as well. You can go for carrot sticks, apple slices or grapes. Or make things interesting with some cucumber spears scattered with chopped dill, mint and pepper.
Yoghurt Berry Toast
Combine the creamy and fluffy texture of Greek yoghurt with the crunchiness of whole grain toast or cereals and the refreshing taste of berries for a quick and delicious morning snack.
What you need: 2 slices of toasted wholegrain bread, plain natural Greek yoghurt, a handful of fresh berries like blueberries, blackberries or raspberries and some chia seeds to sprinkle.
Greek yogurt makes a great topping for fruit, may help you feel fuller and can provide you with protein and calcium (Diabetes UK). The NHS recommends going for lower-fat yoghurt instead of full-fat versions and also check the label to ensure it doesn’t have any added sugar. Spread the yoghurt on each slice of bread (wholegrains can provide fibre, vitamin B, folic acid, omega 3 and protein) then top with the berries you love for a valuable source of antioxidants. Sprinkle with chia seeds and drizzle with a bit of honey if you want a little bit of extra sweetness.
Tuna & Avocado Lettuce Cups
These nifty lettuce cups are filled with a nourishing mixture of nutrients that could help you satisfy your mid-day craving and allow you to carry on with your day.
What you need: 3 romaine lettuce leaves (swap with any leaf that you think is sturdy enough for filling), 1 small cooked and sliced tuna fillet, 1 small stoned ripe avocado, half a teaspoon English mustard powder, 1 tablespoon of capers (optional), 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, 6 cherry tomatoes, halved.
Scoop the avocado into a mixing bowl, add the mustard powder and lemon juice and mash well until you get a creamy texture. Eating avocado is an excellent way to get your portion of healthy (unsaturated) fats which are essential in a healthy diet. But remember, too much fat can increase your risk of heart disease (the NHS). Avocado also contains vitamin E, B, fibre and minerals. Stir in the capers if you want to add a distinctive sour and salty flavour to your snack. Spoon some of the avocado cream on the lettuce leaves and top with tuna and cherry tomatoes. Roll up and enjoy! Access the step-by-step recipe here.
Rainbow Fruit Kebabs
If you’re looking for an interesting idea for your child’s snack box, a picnic nibble or just want to motivate yourself to eat more fruit, these rainbow fruit kebabs are a vitamin-packed, fun to prepare, fun to eat snack! Feel free to go creative and play with the colours and fruit variety. You can also cut some of the fruits into shapes using cookie cutters.
What you need: wooden skewers, raspberries, small strawberries, tangerine/orange segments, peeled mango sliced into cubes, peeled pineapple chunks, peeled kiwi chunks, red and green grapes and blueberries.
Add a piece of each fruit onto a skewer, following the above order for a nice rainbow of colours. It might sound like a simple and basic recipe, but the nutritional value in these goodies is amazing and each colour brings different benefits.
Red fruits contain antioxidants thought to help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol while orange and yellow fruits are high in carotenoids such as beta-carotene which is converted to vitamin A in the body. Green grapes contain calcium, magnesium and potassium and kiwi is packed with vitamin C and is also a good source of vitamin E.
Purple and blue fruits have recently been labelled as `superfoods` by the media, with health claims like increased longevity, cardiovascular health and cancer and dementia prevention. While research to verify these claims is still ongoing, what we know is that blueberries are a good source of fibre and vitamin C, which helps protect cells and aids the absorption of iron.
Whether you are on the go, need a quick energy boost or just want a snack between your main meals, why don’t you give some of these a try? You might be surprised by how these healthy treats can keep you full and satisfied for longer, while also helping you avoid the unhealthy snacks in the process. As a rule of thumb, try to always go for snacks that are high in protein and fibre as they can help delay hunger for several hours.
Disclaimer: The content of this website is provided for informational purposes only and does not substitute the medical advice from a healthcare professional.