Chocolate, crisps, sweets, cake, biscuits, bars – these high-GI, low nutrient treats, along with sugary drinks, serve as daily snacks for so many adults and children. But they don’t fit the bill for nourishing snacks for kids and parents.
If your mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack is followed by a sugar buzz (or hyperactivity in kids) followed by sagging energy, poor concentration, mood swings and irritability, maybe its time to try other options. Snacks are a great opportunity to upgrade the diet with some nutrient-dense whole foods.
Balancing some sweetness (piece of fruit) with a protein source (walnuts, brazils, almonds, peanuts, cashews, pumpkin seeds, cheese, etc.), or using a low-GI carb option (e.g. wholemeal bread with peanut butter or hummus) will help even out the blood sugar rollercoaster.
Here are some suggestions. Making the snacks yourself gives you control of exactly what is going into it, so you can avoid the high levels of refined salt, sugar and other baddies so often found in packaged, highly processed foods. These snacks are suitable for the whole family:
- Mashed avocado on rice cake, oatcake, Ryvita, Finn Crisp etc.
- Nut or seed butters (e.g. cashew, almond, peanut, pumpkin) on the above.
- Hummus on the above: Vary hummus – avocado, beetroot, chilli, red pepper, etc.
- Hummus (any variety) and crudités.
- Cooked edamame beans (season with sea salt, tamari soya sauce or herbamare).
- Dried berries, fruits with nuts (small handful).
- Popcorn: best to make your own. Use butter, coconut oil or olive oil with freshly-chopped rosemary for flavour; add a little cinnamon powder for sweetness.
- Lightly-toasted nuts or seeds – sweet: flavour with cinnamon and/or vanilla (small bowl).
- Lightly-toasted nuts or seeds – salty: toss with a dash of tamari soya sauce after toasting while still warm. Pumpkin and sunflower seeds are best for this.
- Olives in brine.
- Natural yoghurt (plain, soya, coconut, goats) with nuts, seeds, berries.
- Suma apple, pear, prune spreads on oatcake with a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds.
- Vanilla coated pumpkin Surf seeds (supermarkets).
- Homemade wholemeal pitta crisps (have with a dip: hummus).
- Homemade smoothies (use e.g. yoghurt, green leaves, seeds, a little coconut oil).
- Fresh fruit platter: Lightly grate a little dark chocolate over fruit for a little extra treat. Serve with coconut yoghurt.
- Fresh fruit kebabs – can be frozen for kids as a popsicle treat.
- Sugar-free cereal bars or flapjacks (Check health-food shops or the health section in your supermarket). Choose one sweetened with dried fruit, with nuts and/or seeds for protein, and made with oats or quinoa.
- Dark chocolate. A little chocolate is ok as a treat every once in a while. Buy good quality dark chocolate with at least 60% cocoa solids. Avoid milk and white chocolates as they have more added sugar.