Saturday, May 02, 2015

Small changes that make a big difference - Better snacks

I may sound like I am repeating myself here. But I thought it might be helpful to share some of the 'small things' I do that help me feel better. I believe the Pareto principle works just as well in nutrition as with everything else.

Better snacks

If you are anything like me at 3 pm you would be going through your desk drawer or looking around to see if any of your colleagues might have a piece of chocolate lying around.
Recently I have discovered almond butter. No, I didn't really discover it but I have found out how totally amazingly creamy that stuff is. At 3 pm almond butter on a piece of apple keeps me full and happy well into dinner time. Because it combines high-fibre carbs like an apple with protein that keep you fuller for longer - like almond butter. Or even just almonds, preferably raw and ideally soaked (more on soaking nuts below) overnight.

So what are other things that help me get through the afternoon craving for sugar?

Nuts, any sort of nuts. 

The rule of thumb is to actually only eat a handful. I avoid roasted, salted, chocolate covered etc. and always buy raw. Buying in bulk saves loads of money in the long run. Ideally I try and soak the nuts overnight - put in a bowl, cover with water with a pinch of salt. In the morning rinse thoroughly, wrap in a paper towel, put into a small container in my bag and with an apple or banana I have a snack!

Walnuts are a particular favourite of mine. Very high in Omega 3 fats and zinc which are essential for good skin health and particularly good if you are an acne sufferer, after soaking they lose their bitterness and become sweet and plump just like in late summer when they fall off the tree.

So what does soaking do? Nuts contain enzymes which inhibit their ability to sprout until they find favourable conditions - moisture and heat. Soaking the nuts breaks down those enzymes and allows them to be better absorbed in the body.

Energy balls. There are plenty of recipes on the internet - I mix one cup of dates (remember to remove the pits) with 2 cups of whatever nuts I have (presoaked walnuts, almonds, cashews, etc) + pumpkin and sunflower seeds + flaxseed + maca, cocoa powder and a bit of coconut oil if it all seems too dry. I don’t have a food processor, so use the grind attachment of my old Philips blender. It might be easier to grind the nuts and flaxseed separately before mixing with the dates to form balls. These will keep in the fridge in a plastic covered tub for a good week.

A walk

Now I know a walk is by no way a snack but you will be amazed how much getting out and about for 10 minutes can boost your energy and make you feel better. Put your coat on, leave your phone (or take it with you if it counts your steps like mine does) and just go out for a walk around the block. If you make sure you avoid the bakery and the coffee shop on the corner, I promise you by the time you are back to your desk you would have forgotten you wanted a snack. Have a cup of tea instead (green, rooibos, mint, not the black stuff with milk).The extra oxygen will support circulation and will ultimately boost your metabolism and mood.

I agree, it does take a bit or planning and preparation - remembering to put the nuts into your bag, however, whenever you forget to pick some there is the added benefit of having to walk to Holland & Barrett or the nearest supermarket to pick up some! So it is a win-win anyways!