Healthy snacks

 

Mixed nuts

Most of the energy and nutrients we get in our diet comes from meals but sometimes you find you need something to keep you going until the next meal. This is where a snack is needed.

Before the 1970s snacks were unheard of but that changed when chocolate manufacturers identified a gap in the market. Now there are many types of chocolate bars, crisps, snack bars etc. to tempt us in between meals. These types of snack are best eaten occasionally as they contain a lot of sugar or processed fats.

So what is a healthy snack and how do you ensure you always have one to hand?

It goes without saying snacks should be a small part of the diet. If you are relying on snacks for a lot of your nutrition, then you aren’t getting enough energy in your meals, so first of all check you are getting a good balance of each of the food groups in your meals and enough of each: carb-rich foods, protein-rich foods and veg.

If you are satisfied your meals are adequate, but you still get a little hungry in between meals and need something to keep you going, then here is my list of my common sense healthy snacks:

  1. Nuts

Nuts make an excellent snack. They contain fibre so it is difficult to overeat them and a host of nutrients such as good fats, iron, vitamin E and B-vitamins. Most supermarkets sell a re-sealable bag of mixed nuts.

  1. Dark chocolate

Sometimes a bit of a treat is needed and dark chocolate is a good choice for this. It also has some nutritious qualities with antioxidants, magnesium and theobromines amongst them.

  1. Fruit

Any kind of fruit is good but if you can get hold of it seasonal fruit is even better as it will contain more of the beneficial nutrients and more taste. At this time of year look out for raspberries, strawberries, peaches, nectarines, and apricots. Fruit is a great snack to have in-between meals as the slow release sugars will help to bridge the gap until the next meal.

  1. Fruit scone

For those really hungry times I find a fruit scone is really useful to get you to the next meal. It is a kind of a cake but not too sweet or fatty. The bakery section of some supermarkets sell these singly so you can buy just one, when you need it.

  1. Plain yoghurt

Having a yoghurt is a good way to get one of your three dairy portions of the day. Fruit yoghurts contain a lot of sugar so I would recommend a plain one and just add your own fruit.

  1. Cheese and crackers

This also contributes to one of your dairy portions and can be a good substitute for a sugary snack. An ideal portion size for cheese is 50g.

The best types of snacks are as in the rest of the diet, whole foods such as fruit, cheese, yoghurt or nuts. These foods can supplement the diet with extra nutrients rather than providing so called ‘empty’ calories.

Keep these snacks to hand and you will be able to avoid more easily the temptation of milk chocolate bars, crisps and so-called ‘healthy’ snack bars.

 

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Prawn and butternut squash red thai-style curry

prawn-curry-002

Apologies, it has been such a long time since my last blog. It has been a busy time with work, family birthdays, and Christmas preparations, but now it is time to get back on track and time for a new recipe.

This is one that I like to cook on Saturday night as it is quick and easy and comforting. It uses mostly ingredients you have in the store cupboard or freezer, but can be made extra special by the addition of some fresh coriander and fresh lime juice.

I am using brown rice to add extra fibre, because most of us don’t eat enough.

You can also use a mixture of butternut squash and sweet potato or other types of squash.

I have used the coconut cream you buy in a block as this involves less wastage (a little of this goes a long way), and less unwanted chemicals, though you can use the tinned coconut milk if you prefer (use a quarter of a tin). The fat in coconut cream and milk is mostly saturated and government advice is to not have more than 10% of your energy from this or about 20g per day. This recipe will give you roughly 15g saturated fat, so just below this.

Prawn and butternut squash red thai-style curry

Serves 2

Ingredients:

2/3rd of a mug of brown rice (dried)

boiling water

olive oil

½ onion, finely chopped

250g butternut squash, deseeded, peeled and cut into cubes

1 red pepper, washed, deseeded and cut into medium-sized chunks

a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped

1 clove of garlic, finely chopped

pinch of chilli flakes

2 teaspoons curry spices such as garam masala

cayenne pepper to taste

1 tablespoon of tomato puree

1/8 of a block of coconut cream

1 tsp of mango chutney or ½ teaspoon of sugar

200g frozen prawns

squeeze of lemon or lime juice

salt to taste

Method:

  1. Prepare the ingredients as above. Put the prawns in a bowl of cold water to defrost them a bit.
  2. Wash the rice in boiling water. Then add double the volume of water so for 2/3rd of a mug of rice add 1 1/3 mugs of boiling water. Put in a saucepan with a lid on a very low heat and leave for 20-25 mins. When cooked all the water should have disappeared, if it is too dry add more water.
  3. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan and fry the onion for a minute, then add the red pepper, ginger, garlic, curry powder, chilli flakes and cayenne and stir fry for a few minutes.
  4. Add 250ml boiling water and crumble in the coconut cream, mango chutney and tomato puree.
  5. Stir well and bring to the boil, then add the butternut squash and simmer covered for 15 minutes or until the butternut squash is tender.
  6. Drain the prawns and run them under the cold tap to remove the excess ice. Then add them to the pan and bring back to the boil. Add the lime or lemon juice and cook for a few minutes to ensure the prawns are heated through. Taste it and add salt to taste.
  7. Serve on warmed plates sprinkled with chopped coriander and with the rice.

Summer is in the air, are you getting prepared?

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Near Henley-on-Thames.

 

Last bank holiday Monday, I walked with a friend to The Flowerpot pub along the river from Henley and ate outside for the first time this year! It felt like summer had officially started. Children were playing, dogs looked hot and bothered, birds were singing. I ate crab salad and almost felt like I was on holiday.

But summer can be a time that fills a lot of people with dread. It is the time where we ‘bare our flesh’. This can be a source of great discomfort.

Most of us at some point in the summer find ourself in a bathing costume or a bikini. So how do you ensure that you are ready for this?

It is about feeling comfortable with what you’ve got. It is easy to find the faults.

But there are always good bits, focus on these. You may have lost weight since last year, or since last month. So, congratulate yourself and keep going.

Maybe you haven’t lost weight but you have made some positive changes. However small a step you have made, relish in your success and keep going.

Don’t berate yourself for not being exactly how you want to be and go on a crash diet. This leads to more misery and often more weight. See last time’s blog about black and white thinking here:

https://wordpress.com/posts/blog.commonsensenutrition.co.uk

You just need to start or carry on eating well: good protein, good fats, slow-release carbs, less sugar and processed foods (remember the 80:20 rule), eat your veg, drink water, and move as much as possible (walk, take the stairs instead of the lift, stretch).

That way you will feel good about yourself when you come to put that bikini on. You will know you may not be there yet, but you are moving towards your goal.

Enjoy your week and the warmer weather!

Zoe