When three o’clock rolls around, I almost always find myself in need of a little pick me up. To avoid reaching for chips or cookies I try to keep plenty of healthy snack options on hand, and I also make sure to stay hydrated throughout the day so that I don’t mistake thirst cues for hunger cues. I keep my snacks relatively small so that I don’t fill up too much before my next meal, and I stay away from refined carbohydrates like cookies and crackers to prevent having a sugar crash later on. While it’s important to avoid consuming all trans fats, you shouldn’t shy away from healthy fats like those found in nuts, seeds, coconut, some oils, and avocado. These good sources of fat are great for your health and will help to keep you feeling satiated [1]. Another essential component of smart snacking is your sleep schedule. New research demonstrates that sleep deprivation may lead to excess grazing, because the chemical signals in our brains become altered with less than four hours of sleep. In order to resist succumbing to cravings for fatty and sugary foods, make sure to get at least seven hours of shuteye every night [2]!

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Typically I’ll set aside a couple of hours every weekend to prepare snacks for the week that are simple, tasty, and nutritious. Some of my go-to’s are smoothies, bliss balls, veggies and hummus, dates and nut butter, popcorn, and fresh fruit. To make smoothies quick and easy, I prep individual smoothie packs to keep in the freezer. Just throw together your favorite combination of veggies and fruits, and then blend them together with milk or protein powder with water when you’re ready. Bliss balls are a staple in my house, and they’re a very easy recipe to customize according to your flavor preferences or the ingredients you have on-hand (read on to find out how you can make them!). Veggies and hummus are a classic option. My favorite healthy treat has to be dates and nut butter, although the sweetness could trigger some to desire more sugar, so beware. The combination of sweet dates and peanut butter is delicious, and I have to make sure that I don’t eat more than two or three of these sweet treats at once! Another great snack option to keep around is popcorn mixed with nuts, but be sure to stay away from the microwaved brands that contain trans fats and other unhealthy ingredients. Instead, opt for popcorn that is air popped or popped in oil and lower in sodium, with no added sugar.  And don’t forget to add nuts for the protein component. Finally, when in doubt, grab a piece of fresh fruit with a handful of nuts or a piece of cheese. My fruit of choice is an apple, especially at this time of the year.

Hopefully my favorite snacks have given you some ideas about healthy options to reach for during a mid-morning or late afternoon energy slump. Drink plenty of water, sleep well, and you should be able to conquer any unhealthy cravings!

Bliss Balls

Vegan, G/F (adapted from Deliciously Ella) [3]

Ingredients:

– 1 cup desiccated coconut

– ½ a dozen Medjool dates

– 1 cup almonds

– 4 tablespoons almond butter (may sub with another nut butter)

– 2 tablespoons raw cacao (may sub unsweetened cocoa powder)

– 1 tablespoon coconut oil (a healthy saturated fat)

Blend the almonds and the coconut together in a food processor until they form a flour-like consistency. Then add the almond butter, coconut oil, and cacao and blend for a few seconds before gradually adding the dates.

Continue to process until it forms a sticky mixture, which you can then roll into little balls. Coat the bliss balls in more desiccated coconut, and then place them in a container in the refrigerator to firm up. The bliss balls will last in the fridge for about a week, although it might be hard not to eat them all in a few days!

By Katie, UW intern

References:

[1] The Family Health Guide. “The truth about fats: the good, the bad, and the in-between.” Harvard Health Publications. Harvard University, 7 Aug. 2015. Web. 25 Aug. 2016.

[2] Easton, John. “Sleep loss boosts hunger and unhealthy food choices.” Science Life. The University of Chicago Medicine & Biological Sciences, 29 Feb. 2016. Web. 25 Aug. 2016.

[3] Woodward, Ella. “Raw Coconut and Cacao Bites.” Deliciously Ella. Deliciously Ella Ltd, 11 Mar. 2013. Web. 25 Aug. 2016.

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