Life is hectic. Study after study concludes that people are trying to do too much in too little time and it is taking its toll. Unfortunately, most people try to gain the time back by skipping meals or grabbing fast snacks on the fly. A busy, stressful life is usually accompanied by a deteriorating or unbalanced diet and inconsistent eating patterns. The result can lead to greater stress, sleep disorders, blood sugar fluctuations, weight gain and digestive problems.
Even if you can’t fit in three square meals daily, these delicious and nutritious snacks will help get you over the hump without resorting to doughnuts, muffins, candy bars or fast food. Not only will you save time, you’ll save money as well.
Apples – This is the “go to” classic snack that everyone should include in their daily eating routine (remember the old adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”). Apples are inexpensive, compact, transportable, readily-available and delicious. They are rich in phytonutrients and despite a rather high sugar content, they help regulate blood sugar and also improve digestive health. Apples are filling so if you are extremely hungry but not ready to prepare a full meal, grab a fresh, juicy apple.
Avocado – This may seem like an odd choice – most people won’t carry an avocado in their purse or briefcase. What the avocado lacks in transportability it makes up for in nutrition. If you won’t make time for breakfast, for example, grab a piece of whole grain toast and spread some avocado on it. It is better than butter, much healthier for you and takes about the same amount of time to prepare. Avocados contains one of the “good fats” your body needs to stay healthy, as well as protein and potassium (higher than bananas and with less sugar).
Berries – Grab a container with a lid, wash up a mixture of your favorite, fresh berries and hit the road with a turbo-charged, super snack. Berries are rich in antioxidants, vitamins and fiber and they simply taste amazing. Yes, some are high in sugar but it is in the best possible form for your body to use. I recommend raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and strawberries for an unbeatable sweet snack any time of day.
Cucumber and watermelon juice – Because most people are chronically dehydrated (too busy to eat, too busy to drink water), why not take care of the hunger and the thirst at the same time. Watermelons and cucumbers are high in water, complementary in flavor, and packed with nutrients. They are both soft and break down easily in a conventional blender so you don’t even need a juicer to enjoy this delicious drink. Drink it right away or pour it into a BPA-free thermos for a refreshing thirst quencher later (remember to shake before drinking as it can thicken up when it sits for a while). Cucumbers are a surprisingly good source of vitamin C, vitamin K and potassium; watermelon is also a good source of vitamin C and potassium and is one of the best sources of lycopene, a potent antioxidant. This juice is a great option for athletes as well, as it will rehydrate them and help combat muscle fatigue and pain.
Raw, organic nuts – Nuts, like apples, are highly transportable and highly nutritious snacks. Try combining almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts, pistachios and pecans for a crunching and filling snack. These nuts are high in protein and fiber, as well as a wide-range of minerals needed by your body. Stay clear of roasted and salted nuts in cans or bottles. These processed nuts frequently contain rancid oils which, combined with the high levels of sodium, will do more harm than good.
Hummus on raw veggie sticks – This old standby brings some international flare to your snacking with the great taste of chickpeas (or garbanzo beans as they are also named). This high-fiber, high-protein legume provides the perfect base for the Middle Eastern dip that goes so well with celery and carrot sticks, cucumbers, and other raw vegetables. Hummus can be customized with different ingredients but the traditional recipes also include nutrient-packed garlic and lemon. Be wary of store-bought hummus: it can contain artificial flavors, preservatives and excessive amounts of salt and/or sugar. If you aren’t making your own, consider shopping for your hummus at a natural foods or organic health food store but still read the label for quality ingredients.