11 Nourishing Snacks To Keep At Your Desk
Before we launch into the snack attack, let’s revisit some of the key nutrition principles around snacking.
Snacks are for energy and nutrition. These are quite different to one of the other key motivators for snacking…boredom. We MUST draw a line between them to start, because boredom and snacking often leads to other health issues we don’t need to encourage, weight gain, insulin resistance and other metabolic conditions. Snacking unnecessarily means we train the body to consistently use carbohydrate for fuel and not utilise our body’s fat stores for energy. Fat burning great, weight gain because of excess food consumption not so much. Simple as that.
So we understand that snacks are to be a source of nutrition and energy when necessary to do so, not a resolve for boredom whilst at your desk. Agree? Good to hear.
And, because there are times when you need to have snacks on hand to energise you throughout your day it’s best you have the right ones there to serve you. Those with a good balance of nutrition to fuel your body. Consider these key players to keep on hand:
Top of the list. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US can do with another serve of vegetables in our day. Even just a single serve more (cup of spinach, a carrot or cucumber, half a capsicum) will benefit our health on a number of levels. A good session of crunching will do wonders for dental health, is a lower sugar option than fruit, and provide essential vitamins, minerals and fibre to keep our gut and immunity in good nick.
Raw nuts and seeds
I’m a nutritionist, this one had to come close to number one. If you’re just beginning to take steps in a healthier direction then start with a small handful of raw nuts and seeds to keep you well nourished and steer clear of roasted, flavoured or raw treats for now. Whilst raw treats do have plenty of nourishing ingredients, the simple raw ingredients are best to first lay foundations. Go for raw almonds, brazil nuts and cashews which as a combination provide all the essential amino acids to make up a complete protein.
Natural peanut butter and corn thins
Because who doesn’t love a little (all natural, no nasties) peanut butter in their lives. And, instead of it being bite size items, simply spreading a couple of corn or rice thins with a natural peanut butter visually seems more ‘filling’. Peanut butter combined with a grain (rice / corn / buckwheat / quinoa) makes for a better balanced protein and carbohydrate snack of the plant kingdom too. Wins.
Poached chicken and lettuce
For the days you’re training longer, harder, or just on a training day versus a rest day, this simple leftovers snack is complete satisfaction in a roll up. You won’t require much chicken – 60-80g is plenty for a snack, wrapped in some fresh greens such as lettuce, spinach, kale or rocket, touch of sea salt and if any spice is on hand don’t hold back.
Really doesn’t come simpler. Protein rich with a small portion of fats to satiate in the yolk which is not to be tossed away in fear of cholesterol or fat. Boil a half dozen at the start of the week and use them as your one stop shop throughout when necessary.
Yogurt and oats
A super snack solution for those involved more so in endurance training and needing the carbohydrate source of fuel to replenish stores within the body. Best choice is always a natural yoghurt or pure greek (which contains a higher protein content as a result of the straining method) and add whole rolled oats, perhaps a few berries.
Fresh green juice
Without a hint of hipster in sight, there’s a reason green juice is a snack essential. It’s green plant enriched (think plenty of minerals, vitamins, phytochemicals and antioxidants) and much lower in sugar than the fruit juice cousins. Upping the ante of green juice in your week is much the same as simple vegetables topping the list of the snack menu.
A small tin of salmon
Perhaps even with a few of the bones mashed into it, is a great source of protein, essential fatty acids (salmon, trout, mackerel and tuna are all rich in EFA’s) and calcium. Most people think calcium is primarily sourced from dairy and there’s some truth in that, but the bones in the tinned salmon can up your daily calcium intake considerably too.
Hummus and vegetables
A bang on swap for swap where once may have stood chips and dip. Hummus and veggie sticks is the easiest alternative and feeds you nutrients where other snacks of the fast, processed kind, do not.
Home blend smoothie
Or that blended on the spot with your chosen ingredients, particularly vegetables first, a small portion (or none at all) of fruit and a few booster ingredients to add to the blend – greens powder, acai, camu, spirulina, vegan protein, fossil shell flour, cinnamon and chia seeds are all excellent to have on hand for when you whiz your own.
If you soak 1 cup linseeds with 1 1/2 cups of water you can create a linseed ‘gel’ which acts as a binder. Combine with other seeds – sunflower, pepita and sesame, coconut oil and some sea salt and you have a cracker without heavy carbohydrate load and plenty of good quality fats and fibre.
Now to question your snack shopping list… what’s been on there for too long and what could be included to make a difference to your nutrition? Which on the list can you integrate into your lifestyle and desk drawer to create change on your health now and for the long term?
Jacqueline Alwill is a qualified, practicing nutritionist, personal trainer, whole foods cook and mum. She is passionately committed to improving the health, wellbeing and happiness of all individuals.