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After the Bar

Personal & Financial

Work Hard. Snack Smart.

Abby K. Cannon

Work Hard. Snack Smart.
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Without a doubt, as a dietitian and former practicing attorney, the most common question professionals ask me is, “What snacks do you recommend?”

It’s only natural to ask this because we live in a snack-obsessed culture. According to some research, upwards of 97 percent of Americans snack regularly. Snacking has become even more prevalent during the pandemic.

We eat multiple snacks a day and sometimes combine snacks to make meals. We are snacking in between meals to satisfy hunger, or as a treat, or simply because we need a break.

Unfortunately, many bars and packaged snacks on the market are intentionally created to be oh-so-tempting rather than oh-so-healthy. So, whether you are in the sweet or salty (or sweet and salty) snack camp, it might be time for a snack revamp. 

Flood Your Body with Nutrients

Think about this: every time we eat or drink, it is an opportunity to flood our bodies with the nutrients it needs to thrive. We want nutrient-dense snacks that actually serve their intended purpose. If you snack to help hold you over until the next meal or to give you a boost of sustained energy, you need to snack smart.

The healthiest foods (for us and the planet!) are unpackaged, unprocessed, and as close to their natural state as possible. The more real, whole foods we eat, the better we feel. (Yes, it is really that simple.)

The Winning Nutrient Combination

It is essential to include good quality protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates (fiber) when snacking. This combination ensures that you get sustained energy rather than a quick burst of energy (a blood sugar spike) followed by that inevitable crash.

Take an Inventory of Your Snacks

With that in mind, take a quick inventory of what you typically snack on. I bet your snacks, even the ones branded “healthy,” contain ingredients like fillers, additives, dyes, and a lot of added sugar that likely leave you sluggish and bloated—the opposite of how we want to feel after snacking. And they are likely packaged in single-use plastic, which contains chemicals harmful to our health and the planet and is not recyclable.

Let’s Get Snacking: Snack Ideas and Recipes

Now that you know the winning combination for snacks in terms of nutrition (protein + healthy fats + fiber), let’s look at this combination in practice. Here are some tried and true ideas:

Fresh Fruit (Fiber) + Nut Butters (Protein and Healthy Fat) + Spices (optional)

  • blueberries + peanut butter + cinnamon
  • an apple + pecan butter + cardamon
  • banana + almond butter + hemp seeds

Fresh Veggies (Fiber) + Dip (Protein and Healthy Fat)

  • Carrots + guacamole
  • Celery + peanut butter + raisins
  • Cucumbers & peppers + hummus

DIY Trail Mix with Your Favorite Nuts and Seeds (Healthy Fat and Protein) and Dried Fruit (Fiber)

  • Pecans + walnuts + almonds + raisins
  • Tamari roasted almonds + hemp seeds + unsweetened dried cranberries
  • Almonds + sunflower seeds + pumpkin seeds + dried pineapple

Particularly now that many of us are returning to the office, I recommend taking 15 minutes on the weekend to throw together your favorite snacks in quantities to last you the whole week. This way, when that 3 p.m. urge to snack hits, you are already prepared with the most nutritious option, and you won’t need to resort to the breakroom vending machine.