I don’t know about you but whenever I’m going through a health kick (which right now I am planning to start very soon – the thought of being a bride in the not too distant future is niggling at me, so I’ll start tomorrow I promise, today I have a packet of cookies in the house that are just calling out to be eaten – yes they are!), the thing I find most difficult to cut out is the snacks.
Healthy meals I’m totally down with and actually don’t find it that hard to keep my three meals a day reasonably fresh and fat and grease free. For breakfast there’s greek yoghurt and fresh fruit, the hunger pangs at lunch are usually easily satisfied with a light soup or tasty salad and come dinner me and GB have got pretty adept at cooking up something quick yet healthy thanks to an abundance of cook books, help from Hello Fresh and good quality fruit and veg stalls on route home. No, it’s all the in between times that I struggle with, the mid afternoon slump that just calls for an injection of sugar to see me through, the evening meal that never feels quite finished without a pudding and the Friday nights in with a movie that obviously need to be accompanied by some popcorn and a bar of chocolate.
The problem occurs even more so when I’m working from home. I find myself filling every break I take with a mooch to the kitchen which inevitably ends in making a cup of tea (with a spoonful of sugar – still can’t curb that habit) and raiding the cupboards for something sweet. You might think that to simply stop buying anything naughty would alleviate the problem but you would be wrong. It’s no secret that I’m a massive sweet tooth and I think that’s pretty much the sole reason I enjoy baking so much, so I’ve learned to be pretty crafty at knocking up something special even from the most random of kitchen ingredients just to satisfy a craving.
Besides, I don’t really believe in depriving yourself of something completely, as (in my experience) you’ll only crave it more. Plus life isn’t about depriving ourselves the good stuff is it? I know I’ll always be a snacker, and I’ll always enjoy a slice of cake with my cup of tea but I’m also pretty sure that you can lead a healthy lifestyle and still enjoy these little indulgences every so often so I try not to let it worry me too much.
Instead, because I don’t believe that anyone can sit at their laptop all day pouring words onto a computer screen without snacking, I’ve been trying to substitute my normal snacks for something slightly kinder on the waistline, while still allowing myself anything I want on a Friday – because Fridays don’t count right? So instead of a slice of chocolate cake, I’ll have a couple of squares of dark chocolate, or instead of a muffin I’ll have a slice of soda bread. You get my drift, I’m not claiming these are in anyway ‘healthy’ in the sense that they have no calories, but if like me you need a little pick me up every so often, I generally find them all fairly filling and able to satisfy a sweet craving. So here are my 5 healthy snacking ideas…
1. Oatcakes and Jam
Ah the humble oatcake. It’s way healthier than a biscuit but still tastes every so slightly sweet which makes it a big fat YES in my house. If I’m craving a little something but know I’m not really hungry, I’ll pull out a couple of these and smother with a dollop of raspberry jam to keep me going until dinner time. I also tend to eat these for breakfast on those days I’ve forgotten to buy anything remotely breakfast related and am staring un-enthusiastically at the fridge while trying to decide if I am hungry/motivated enough to warrant getting dressed to go out to the supermarket. Most of the time a couple of oatcakes and a cuppa will win out over putting clothes on and keep hunger pangs at bay until lunchtime.
2. Pomegranate Seeds
I’ve only recently discovered these little blighters and am totally converted. It’s way easier to pull the seeds out than you may at first think, just do as I have and split into four with your fingers before manhandling those seeds into a bowl of cold water and straining to get rid of any pulp, and then you’re left with a large bowl of tasty zesty little seeds which, although small in size are mighty in taste and fill you up almost immediately! It’s more difficult to stop eating them in fact, and I really must as I think they are pretty acidic and probably not ideal in large doses. But they also taste wondrous on a salad and can add at least one of your five a day to a muffin or cake, should you need to go down that route.
3. Dark Chocolate
Ok so I told you these weren’t all super dooper healthy in the traditional sense, but if you really are craving chocolate like you have never craved chocolate before (apart from yesterday of course) and know that nothing else will do other than a slab of the stuff, the only thing I can recommend is choosing dark over milk. I hardly ever eat milk chocolate anymore, so much of a convert I am to the dark cocoa solids, and the darker and higher percentage of cocoa you can go the better, as there is far less fat and far more of the raw cocoa bean. It might taste a little bitter at first but it’s pretty scrumptious still. Lidl do some amazing flavoured varieties but my personal indulgence right now is the Lindt Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt version – nothing beats it I promise.
4. Fruit and Natural Yoghurt
So this probably tends to be more of a breakfast snack, but I have been known to fill a bowl with berries and a dollop of low fat natural yoghurt on an afternoon when I get particularly peckish and it tastes just as good then as it does in the morning. It also makes a nice alternative to a pudding if like me your meal doesn’t always feel complete without one. I tend to stick to the red berries most of the time, with classic strawberries and raspberries, maybe with some blueberries or blackberries thrown in for good measure. But recently I’ve been trying to venture out a little with mango’s, grapefruits and such like which are all very refreshing. I’m not a huge nut fan but a sprinkling of almonds adds a little crunch, and if you like your nuts and seeds I hear chia seeds are excellent.
5. Soda Bread and Nutella
Generally I’m trying to avoid bread at the moment as it doesn’t always agree with me, but occasionally you can’t beat a slice warm from the toaster. If I am craving carbs of this nature, I’ll knock up a quick soda bread (easiest bread in the world to make – see my recipe here) as I find it has a nicer, nuttier taste, and even if it’s in my imagination feels healthier than a regular processed loaf (especially if I make it myself). I’m a nutella addict (who isn’t?) so when those sweet cravings come a knocking, a little spread on a piece of warm soda bread is a really easy way to curb them for a few more hours and doesn’t feel nearly as indulgent as a cake or half a pack of biscuits.
So there you have it, not a recipe as such but just a few of the things I’m enjoying at the moment as an alternative to cakes, biscuits and crisps.
Leave me a comment if you have any other novel ideas of how to avoid reaching for the biscuit tin?