If you are like me, during the school year I put on my uber hat and drive kids around town between the hours of 4pm and 8pm. Or maybe you’re a mom that needs a snack on your way home from the office before transitioning to the responsibilities of family life. Either way, healthy snacking is a struggle, am I right? The late afternoon between 4 and 5:30 happens to be the time of day when I begin to crave something sweet and my healthy eating discipline from earlier in the day teeters.
I start my day with good intentions. I stick to my plan to eat a ton of protein for breakfast and lunch. Since I’ve never been a fan of the taste and texture of eggs, my breakfast of choice is usually our dinner leftover from the night before. Add in a side of rice cereal topped with blueberries and I’m off to start my day. When lunch rolls around I eat more protein. I try and fit in some veggies but I know I don’t get nearly enough.
The late afternoon is when my struggle begins. I’ve been good all day and I just crave something sweet to get through the late afternoon crunch of managing kids (and their emotions), helping with homework [read: nagging my kids to start their homework], and driving carpools. Plus, my kids are usually snacking then too so it’s just easy to grab a handful of whatever they are eating. It’s not intentional or mindful eating at all. That’s my struggle. I think most of us can relate.
I asked my girlfriend who is a licensed nutritionist for some ideas on how to handle my late afternoon cravings. As you might have guessed, the key is to plan ahead and have a few healthy snacks on hand that will keep hunger at bay. She gave me some great ideas of some new things to try. Based on her advice, here’s what I’m tossing in my bag right now for snacking on the go.
Celery, Apples, or Rice Cakes and Nut Butter
Prepackaged celery hearts or an apple quickly sliced with an apple corer and tossed into a ziplock bag are easy complements to the individually packaged all natural peanut butter or almond butter packs sold in grocery stores. Just be mindful to buy all natural nut butter so you can avoid hydrogenated fats. Plain brown rice cakes smeared with peanut or almond butter are a great alternative (albeit a little more tricky to eat on the run). The nut butter provides just enough protein to help me get through the late afternoon hunger pangs.
Enlightened Roasted Broad Bean Snacks
If you are someone who craves a crunchy snack, this one’s for you. Siracha flavor is hands-down my favorite but I also like the salt and pepper flavor. This is a really tasty snack. And with 7 grams of protein per serving, it’s a great option for getting in some mid-afternoon protein. Because it is high in fiber it’s also really filling. I usually can find it at Whole Foods.
Fruit and Nuts or Trailmix
A hearty fruit that can withstand transporting like an apple, pear, or clementine paired with a 100 calorie snack bag of nuts provides protein and compliments the natural carbohydrates of the fruit. Do-it-yourself trail mix which includes a nut, a seed, and a fruit takes a little more advanced planning but is very easy and you can make multiple bags in advance. I try and buy raw, unsalted nuts and unsweetened or low sugar cranberries. Measure 1/8 cup each of almonds, pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries and combine in a ziplock bag. It’s better to make your own, if you can, rather than buy prepackaged trail mix. Many of the prepackaged trail mix packages are loaded with unnecessary sugar and sodium. In a pinch, look for a bag of pre-mixed raw and unsalted nuts.
Bell Pepper Slices or Cucumbers and Hummus
This is another favorite. Bell peppers and cucumbers can be sliced and bagged in ziplocks and stored in your fridge until needed. Prepackaged hummus (Sabra red pepper hummus is my favorite) is a protein-rich companion. It helps fight hunger cravings while balancing blood sugar levels.
What are your healthy snacks for eating on the run? Shoot me an email, I’m always looking for new ideas. Happy Snacking!
P.S. My girlfriend is a registered dietician nutritionist and provides nutrition counseling services in Virginia and surrounding regions. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in learning more.
Photography by Anna Meyer
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