I want to age gracefully. I want to avoid illness and disease. I want to have lots of energy, wrinkle free skin and a strong, healthy heart. I mean, really, who doesn’t? But in order to do so, I need to eat mindfully—we all do. That’s why I’m here with a few healthy snack ideas—snacks that will fill you up while dosing your body with good quality nutrition.
1. Almonds with dark chocolate:
Grab your favorite dark chocolate bar (look for one with at least 70% cocoa), break it up into small pieces and toss it together with a handful of raw, lightly salted almonds. This antioxidant-rich, heart-healthy snack will satisfy your sweet tooth while quelling your appetite until your next meal.
2. Deli meat roll ups:
Select a good nitrate-free ham, turkey or chicken deli meat (I like Applegate Farms), a full fat cream cheese and some green olives. Slather a thin layer of the cream cheese over the meat. On one end, throw on some sliced olives, then roll and cut into inch-long pieces. The deli meat is an excellent source of energy-supplying amino acids, while the cream cheese and olives supply your body with some good, healthy fats. This protein-rich snack will help your body repair tissue, regulate serotonin production, boost the immune system and give your body energy. And if cream cheese isn’t your thing, try smashed avocado or even some hummus. Delish!
3. Fresh berries with coconut milk:
Start with a bowl of your favorite fresh or frozen berries and drizzle on a few tablespoons of coconut milk (canned is best). For a chocolaty twist, top it with a sprinkle of pure cocoa powder. The berries and cocoa powder will infuse your cells with a super-dose of antioxidants while the coconut milk will supply your body with a natural, heart-healthy (and great-tasting) fat.
4. Roasted, lightly salted pumpkin seeds:
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I just need something with a crunch. This antioxidant-rich, magnesium-packed superfood meets that need and then some. I find pumpkin seeds to be a great alternative to movie theater butter popcorn. It’s salty, crunchy, filling and takes me a while to eat. The perfect munching snack.
5. Warm pears with pecans:
Toss one sliced pear into a pan with a tablespoon of organic, unsalted butter and a handful of chopped raw pecans. Sautee until pears become soft and pecans are lightly toasted. Though it tastes like a naughty dessert, rest assured that you’re actually consuming a healthy snack loaded with antioxidants, anti-inflammatory flavonoids, cancer phytonutrients as well as fiber, vitamins A, K, E, D and many other nutrients.
A word about fats
You may have noticed that some of my snack ideas include saturated fats. No, it’s not a typo; it was by design. Despite popular belief that saturated fat is evil, research is beginning to show that foods high in this largly-misunderstood type of fat (i.e. coconut oil/milk, butter or whole milk) are not the bad guys. In one large 2010 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found limited evidence to support the link between saturated fat and either heart disease or stroke. In fact, studies are now showing that our bodies actually need fat to function properly.
Consider this: the brain is made up primarily of fat—and it thrives on the saturated kind. Without it, our brains will be deprived of the building blocks in needs for proper repair and function. Natural saturated fat is necessary in order to help our bodies absorb many of the healthy nutrients it’s taking in. Moreover, the reduced fat versions of many foods include more sugar and processed ingredients. It’s the trans fats, processed oils and processed carbohydrates we all need to watch out for. A good rule of thumb: choose foods that are as close to its natural state as possible—even when it comes to fats.
So go ahead and enjoy those healthy, yet delicious, snacks. No guilt allowed!