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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Pan-fried seabass with parsley potatoes, carrots and green beans

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This sea bass dish incorporates healthy fats within a balanced meal. It is quick and easy to make so is the perfect mid-week dinner. It also works well with other types of fish such as trout, mackerel or salmon (though you may need to adjust the cooking time).

Serves 2

Ingredients:

2 seabass fillets (approximately 200g)

1xtablespoons of olive oil

Slice of lemon

Salt and pepper, freshly ground

6-8 new potatoes

butter

2 tablespoons of fresh parsley, washed and chopped

2 carrots

2 handfuls of green beans

  1. Wash the potatoes and add to a pan of salted water. Bring to the boil and simmer with the lid on for 20 minutes or until they are soft.
  2. Meanwhile prepare the other vegetables. Peel and chop the carrots. Wash and slice the beans.
  3. Place them in a pan of water and bring to the boil. Simmer with the lid on for 8 minutes.
  4. Lastly prepare the fish. Season it with freshly ground salt and pepper.
  5. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan to a medium heat.
  6. Fry the fish for about 4 minutes each side.
  7. Turn off the heat and squeeze the lemon over the top.
  8. Drain the potatoes. Add a couple of knobs of butter and the chopped parsley. Toss the potatoes around in the butter and parsley to cover them.
  9. Drain the beans and carrots.
  10. Serve on warmed plates.

How to ensure you put your goals into practice.

Woman stretching_Witthaya Phonsawat

You have set your goals (short, medium and long-term set), so what’s the next step? It is important to ensure they aren’t just something you write down and put in a drawer only to forget all about until next January. So how do you ensure that you put your goals into action?

Prepare

An important part of putting your goal into action is the preparation. For example, if you have decided to cook and plan delicious meals 3 times a week, you need to find the recipes, buy the ingredients and equipment, and then plan when you will cook the meals. Without doing these things you will not be likely to reach this goal.

Plan

In fact, planning is a crucial step. Planning when you will do the activities that will help you feel healthier will ensure that you know when you should be doing them and can focus on them. For example, when and how will you do your 30 minute exercise? Will you go for a jog in the morning, a walk at lunch, or do the hoovering in the evening?

Measure

I read somewhere that ‘what gets measured gets done’ and after testing this out, I have found that it works. So for an activity such as ’30 minutes activity per day’ have a ticklist where you mark off which days you have done this and put it somewhere visible so you can see your progress.

Reward

Which brings me to the final step to ensure success, you need to have a reward system. If you stick to your goal 75-80% of the time then you deserve to recognise this so give yourself some sort of reward. It could be a trip to the cinema, buying a new top, or going out to lunch, whatever you enjoy doing and is within your budget.

To recap, once you have set your goals, to ensure you put them into practice, there are a few steps to follow. First, prepare. Get the equipment you need, clear the time in your diary, clear a physical space, whatever it is you need to achieve your goals. Next plan when you are going to do the activities and write this down. Then create a ticklist to measure when you have done what you are planning to do. Finally reward yourself for achieving 75-80% of what you planned to do. Keep going with the tasks until they become second nature.

If you missed my blog on setting goals for the year then you can see it here:

http://wp.me/p41n3G-2u

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhoto.net courtesy of Witthaya Phonsawat.