Snacks and the environment – what do they have in common?

Long before I met Barb de Corti, she was in my life. She didn’t know it but every time I cleaned my house, this passionate advocate for the environment was right there next to me. Of course, Barb (aka ENJO) was in my home and many others around Australia, in a virtual rather than a physical sense. 

Born in a small Austrian village with a population of just 1000 people and the eldest in a family of eight, Barb moved to Australia with her husband and young son in the mid 80’s without fluent English. A former bleach queen, her liberal use of bleach and other chemically based products were taking their toll on her young son, Mark. He suffered debilitating asthma attacks, the cause of which turned out to be the chemical cleaners. An accountant by trade, though working as a fitness instructor at the time, Barb discovered a unique range of Austrian cleaning products using microfibre technology and just water. Using these mitts and cloths and ditching the chemicals, proved to be a lifesaver for her son as his health improved dramatically. Barb’s belief in this product was such that she decided to take a leap and invest her family’s life savings of $40,000 to import the ENJO products into Australia.

Like many businesses, ENJO has endured some really tough times, which have come close to destroying the company but Barb’s passion for helping people has never wavered. Barb explains that the main purpose of ENJO is to be planet friendly and it is this passion and purpose that has pushed her on through the speed bumps. In perfect alignment with the ENJO purpose, in 2007 Barb was chosen to become part of the Australian Conservation Foundation’s climate project and was trained by Al Gore to deliver cultural change around the area of climate change. If just 10% of Australian households possessed ENJO cleaning products, this equates to around $2.3 million people potentially having a smaller environmental footprint. This goal is quite real and a work in progress.

ENJO is not available in supermarkets but instead based on a party plan structure with a community of consultants known as ENJOpreneurs. Although initially sceptical of this method of selling, Barb knows that the face-to-face nature of their business has been a cornerstone of their success.  ENJO is also available online to enable customers 24/7 access. Over the past few years, several competitors have emerged in the microfibre cleaning arena in retail outlets but Barb believes there are none like ENJO. “Our products are designed to last a long time and they come with exceptional customer service,” she explains. “At the end of their lifespan the products are recycled into felt in carpet underlay used in homes and cars.

Life is not just about running a hugely successful company for Barb. For some years now, she has dedicated much time and effort in raising money for a charity very close to her heart, Youth Focus. She has been totally committed to raising the awareness of depression and youth suicide through taking part in the 5 day Hawaiian Ride for Youth, a 700km bike ride between Albany and Perth. This ride had its beginnings in 2003 when a small group of recreational cyclists in Western Australia decided to combine their resources with the aim of raising money to assist in the prevention of youth suicide. Since then, more than $17, 000,000 have been raised, which is truly remarkable. Barb has completed three Ride for Youth events with Team ENJO with her trademark enthusiasm and today the team continues to be part of the event. Not one to rest on her laurels, she is a very keen endurance runner and has completed the London Marathon. 

Just like her renowned cleaning products, Barb has a unique way of approaching her exercise routine. It is easy to see that this woman is highly motivated in all areas of her life and clearly dedicated to her physical well-being. However, her exercise goals and routines are all driven by something much deeper, the desire to help others.

Barb and I first met when she needed assistance with managing fatigue, which is not surprising when she packs so much action into her life, while immersed in the day to day running of a large company! Like so many others, Barb was continually under time pressures while juggling competing priorities and ensuring a regular food intake often took a back seat. Through trial and error, she has learnt that eating regularly is not just a luxury but also a necessity. This not only enables her to put 100% effort into her physical training but also to be present and engaged whilst running an international company. This way she is a role model for her team and the thousands of people that she speaks to each year.

 

Avoid the energy speed bumps with regular snacks

For some of us, snacking is an essential part of keeping energy levels high, whilst for others, it doesn’t even rate a mention. Snacking can be great for keeping hunger pangs at bay, controlling weight, satisfying small appetites and providing important nutrients. However, in our current climate of upsizing, snacks can contribute significantly more kilojoules (calories) than are required. Larger portions have more kilojoules and more kilojoules can mean weight gain.

Your lifestyle and routine will probably dictate whether you are a three meal per day person or a ‘grazer.’ The term ‘grazing’ is so called because cows like to do the same thing. You may not like to think of yourself out in the field chomping down on grass but ‘grazing’ usually means snacking or having five to six smaller ‘meals’ spread out over the day. It doesn’t matter if you have three large meals or three smaller meals and three snacks each day. Weight maintenance is achieved when your food intake matches your expenditure (exercise), regardless of when you consume them.

Snacking can be a great way of keeping your blood sugar and energy levels stable but keep a check on what and how much you are actually eating over the day. It can be easy to exceed your daily energy requirements through regular snacking, so make sure that you don’t fill up on biscuits, cakes, lollies, chocolate and chips or whatever is handy from the vending machine. These types of foods are high in sugar, fat and salt and low in fibre and are certainly not good for your health.

Snacker, snacker, snacker

To be a healthy snacker, organisation is a key ingredient. Shopping regularly and having healthy snacks on hand makes it less likely that you will reach for fatty and sugary foods containing massive amounts of kilojoules. It will also save you money as snacks purchased from vending machines and convenience stores are often priced at a premium. Regardless of whether you are at work, at school or university or at home, planning and packing your food intake the night before is a strategy employed by many to ensure healthy snacks. The routine of packing a lunch bag for school works just as well when heading off to work although your containers and boxes may not be quite as colourful as they used to be!

A problem area for many people is the third quarter of the day, which kicks off just after lunch and finishes around one of the least energetic parts of the day at 3pm. This is often when your body sends you a signal to do something to ward off the desire to lie down on the desk or carpet. Snacks are often required to boost blood sugar levels but they can be a nutrition trap. It is so tempting to grab something quick and easy, none of which will give you the long-lasting energy that you need for the rest of the day.

Watch out for Snacccidents

When choosing snacks, the following guide may be useful when looking at their size and energy value to ensure they don’t totally eclipse your total daily food intake:

For Weight Loss Choose 420kJ/100calories at each snack

For Weight Maintenance Choose 840kJ/200calories at each snack

For Weight Gain Choose 1260kJ/300calories or more at each snack

 

Quick and easy snacks 

  • 1 slice of fruit or raisin toast with thinly spread jam
  • Wholegrain toast or crumpet with a light spread of peanut butter or vegemite
  • Fruit Smoothie
  • Wholegrain crackers with cheese
  • 1 punnet of strawberries
  • Piece of fruit such as an apple, banana or pear
  • Low fat regular sized coffee (latte, cappuccino, flat white)
  • 200g low fat yoghurt
  • 20 almonds, cashews or pistachios
  • 1 boiled egg
  • 100g tin tuna in brine or spring water
  • 1 small pack of tinned fruit in natural juice

What about you – do you try and avoid the energy speed bumps like Barb?

How to Make Raspberry Rough Bliss Balls – they are the bomb

 

There is something so cute about a raspberry with it’s unique scrunched up shape in such a vivid colour.  It is hard not to love them simply for their looks but when we start talking about what they can do for our bodies, they reach star status.

The Nutrition Goods

Nutritionally speaking, a raspberry has all the goods. This little fruit is super low in calories with very little sugar, high in fibre and good to our gut plus a bunch of vitamins and minerals including copper and manganese.  There is Vitamin C all round with these guys too – 1 cup of raspberries dishes up almost half of our daily allowance for this vital vitamin.

It is true that eating a raspberry or two is not cheap, even when in season but they are certainly juicy little morsels when you do. The good news is that you can also purchase them frozen, store them in the freezer and grab them out whenever you need them.

So, we know that popping a raspberry or several into our diets will make our bodies happy.  We also know that they are super versatile and can be used simply as they are or in desserts, baking and even in savoury dishes.

Recipe + Raspberry

Which leads me to recipes. Is anybody with me when I say that I do love to look at recipes, mix and match ingredients and come up with my own variation? This favourite pastime lead to the recipe that I am sharing with you day.  Bliss Balls have been on the popular list for many people for a few years now but lots of them feature nuts and dried fruit (which I also love) but sometimes it is good to have a change right?

The Raspberry Combo

My Raspberry Rough Bliss Balls are a delicious combination of frozen raspberries, rolled oats, coconut and skim milk powder.  Super easy to make and a sweet way to get a dose of fibre, beta-glucan, protein, vitamins and minerals.  Oats are a rich source of beta-glucan, a type of soluble fibre which can assist with reducing LDL cholesterol that can accumulate in the arteries and can also lower blood glucose levels.

Raspberry Rough Bliss Balls

Ingredients (makes approx 18-20 balls)

2 cups slightly defrosted frozen raspberries

2 cups rolled oats

1.5 cups shredded coconut

2 tablespoons coconut oil

4 tablespoons water 

4 tablespoons skim milk powder

Method

Place all ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and blitz until combined. If the mixture is not sticky enough, add a little more water. Using a tablespoon, roll the mixture into balls. Refrigerate until set.

 

 

Egg Goodness – It’s World Egg Day

Happy World Egg Day! It’s time to bring out the balloons and streamers because today is the day to celebrate  and be reminded that the humble egg is an amazing source of energy and vitality.  These little goodies are packed full of  fat soluble vitamins, essential minerals including iron, phosphorus and protein.

The egg has suffered from an undeserved bad boy reputation over the years, mostly in the area of cholesterol. Egg yolks do contain a mixture of polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and saturated fat. However, research conducted over the past 50 years shows that egg consumption has only a negligible effect on raising total blood cholesterol levels in healthy people. For most people, eating an egg every day is a healthy addition to a diet that includes wholegrain cereals, fruits, vegetables and legumes. Of course, it is a different story if you are frying eggs every day and eating them with lots of bacon! 

An egg can be a great snack or meal full of protein and is the richest source of choline, which is essential for the manufacture of neurotransmitters in your brain. The National Heart Foundation has recognised the egg as a nutritious food being eligible for the healthy eating ‘Tick of Approval’ and they are recommended daily as part of the Australian Dietary Guidelines.

I grew up with chooks around my feet and I loved finding an egg hidden in my cubby house amongst my dolls and blankets.  Our chooks were very much free to range wherever they felt like it. Cubby, chook pen, prams – you name it. To be honest, these feathered birds completely freak me out BUT I do so appreciate their produce!

You can check out some interesting and fun facts about the little egg here at World Egg Day.

The egg would have to be on of the easiest foods to prepare but for some weekend eggpsiration, you might like to try my Noodle Omelette.  This recipe is part of my new recipe e-book, ‘eat, energise, repeat’ which can be downloaded for free at 

Noodle Omelette

Ingredients

1 packet 99% fat free 2 minute noodles, (cooked according to directions but without flavor sachet)

2 free range eggs, lightly beaten

40g grated reduced fat cheese

1/4 onion, thinly sliced

1/4 large zucchini, thinly sliced

1 whole tomato, thinly sliced

Method

Spray a large non-stick frying pan with cooking spray and arrange onion, zucchini and tomato in layers in the pan. Top with cooked noodles, distributed evenly over the vegetables and pour over egg. Sprinkle with grated cheese. Cook over low heat until egg starts to set at the side of the pan and then place fry pan under grill to finish the top of the omelette and brown the cheese.  Cut into quarters and serve with a green salad.

Serves 1-2 adults or 2 kids under 12              Cost = $1.90

 

 

 

Choc-chip Cookies with a Hint of Healthy

What do Choc-chip Cookies have to do with healthy living and high performance?

A lot more than you might think. Firstly, I can’t actually imagine living without the recipe I am about to share with you and secondly, balance is such an important part of living a healthy life isn’t it?

I know that perhaps like me, you will be anxious to get back to the Choc-Chip Cookies but before we do…..Last week, I shared some lupin love with my Chicken, Ricotta and Spinach Lupinsagne, a pretty darn delicious dish. Lupins are almost 40% protein and 40% fibre, with just a little carbohydrate and fat, which makes them a nutrition powerhouse.

To me, it seems a natural progression to go from savoury to sweet and throw them into Choc-Chip Cookies. This recipe has been scribbled on a piece of worn paper for many years in my recipe folder and if I don’t make them most weeks, there is the threat of a riot in my house. I don’t know whose recipe this was originally but if was you, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Aside from the chocolate, the vital ingredient in these Choc-Chip Cookies are the oats. The oats give the cookies a soft chewy texture that matches perfectly with the gooey yumminess of dark chocolate. By the way, don’t be tempted to use milk chocolate as it makes the cookies too sweet and without flavour contrast. For this recipe I substituted The Lupin Co. lupin flakes for the exact amount of oats and the result was exactly the same – delicious. Oats are also a nutrition powerhouse but the lupins have significantly more protein and fibre. This is so important in a Choc-Chip Cookie!
Of course, Choc-Chip Cookies are not designed to be an everyday food (especially in the size that I seem to make them) but as a treat they are divine. The extra protein and fibre in the lupins do fill you up more than the average biscuit and they can also be a handy recovery snack post training (although not required after a walk around the block just in case you were wondering).

Choc-Chip Cookies

Ingredients
125g poly/monounsaturated margarine or butter
175g good quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa), roughly chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 egg
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 cup plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 and 1/4 cups lupin flakes

Method
Preheat the oven to 170 ºC. Line two baking trays with baking paper.

Using electric beaters, beat butter/margarine, sugars and vanilla until pale and thick. Beat in egg until just combined. With a wooden spoon, fold in the lupin flakes and then the sifted flour, baking powder, bicarb soda and then fold the whole lot in. When almost done, gently fold in the chocolate until just combined.

Scoop heaped tablespoons of the mixture about 5cm apart onto the prepared trays, flatten down a little and then bake for approximately 10 minutes or until golden. Don’t worry of the cookies feel or look soft, as they will get crisp when cooled (it is hard to wait but worth it I promise).

Scoop it up! How to whip up Banana and Peanut Butter Ice-cream

Along with many others around the world, Australian’s really love ice cream.

In fact, we hold the bronze medal position in the Top 5 ice cream consuming countries in the world. Ice cream eating prowess is not included in the Olympic games but if it ever makes an appearance we are ready to go!

The deliciousness of this cold creamy treat presents itself in many flavours and combinations with the classic vanilla being the favourite flavour in most countries. It’s mine too.

Yet despite how much I love ice cream, there is the downside of eating too much of it. As much as we might try, we can’t completely ignore the fat, sugar, cream, emulsifiers and gums that accompany this cool dessert.

With summer almost (maybe) upon us, it seems like the perfect time to whip up something cold and creamy. One of my all time favourite flavour combo’s is Banana and Peanut Butter, so for me this was the natural place to start.

Bananas are naturally sweet and are a fabulous source of carbohydrate, potassium and Vitamin B6 making them the go-to fruit for a burst of energy. They also freeze and blend really well, which means they are the ideal base for ice cream.

Peanut butter provides the goods in the protein and healthy fats department and provides just the right savoury flavour to put with banana for a yummy ice cream.

The best thing is – making Banana and Peanut Butter Ice Cream is SO simple and takes approximately 10 seconds to make.

Banana and Peanut Butter Ice Cream

1. Break up two frozen banana’s into pieces and place in a Vitamix or blender with 1 ½ tablespoons natural crunchy peanut (or other nut) butter.

2. Blitz until smooth and creamy. If the mixture is a bit stiff, just add a teensy dash of milk.

3. Serve with with fresh slices of banana. Serves 2.

Check out How to Make this Banana and Peanut Butter Ice Cream in action here.

This ice cream is an ideal snack or dessert that is low in fat and sugar.

All you need to do now is enjoy and congratulate yourself on your ice-cream making skills without any added nasties!

Going Nuts

Yesterday afternoon, I walked into the home of one of my dear friends to be greeted by the wafting aroma of something delicious baking in the oven. Not only was she baking a cake for afternoon tea but being super organised, she had modified the recipe to: reduce the fat content but include more unsaturated fats, increase the fibre content by adding more fruit and lower the sugar content. And last but certainly not least, this friend of mine had taken the photo required to post it all on social media! This girl is a keeper.

Needless to say the cake delivered all that the aroma promised plus the inclusion of ground and slivered almonds fitted rather nicely into the Nuts for Life #nuts30days30ways campaign. In Australia, we are very much under performing in the nuts department by consuming on average just 6g per day, which is well below the recommended 30g daily handful.

Eating nuts every day can reduce your risk of developing heart disease and diabetes but can also help manage cholesterol and body weight. That might sound contradictory as nuts do contain fat (albeit the healthy kind) but these little morsels can actually help you manage your body weight. Nuts also contain much needed protein which helps regulate appetite and prolongs the feeling of being full – meaning that you don’t feel the need to pounce on anything that isn’t nailed down every 5 minutes.

Nuts of all kinds are such a great addition to a meal or a handy, portable snack that you can keep in your bag or desk.

Grinding nuts into meal to use in cakes, biscuits, protein balls or smoothies does not result in any nutrient loss and is just another easy way to get nuts into your day. Of course, eating cake every day is not as nutritious as eating a handful of nuts – but it is important to include some luxury items into your diet too!

This Apricot and Almond Cake is a great source of nuts, beta carotene, fibre and Vitamin C courtesy of the apricots and nectarines and is low in saturated fat. Of course, it is an excellent source of deliciousness too.

Apricot and Almond Cake

Ingredients

160ml olive oil
200g SR flour
150g ground almonds
180g raw sugar
150 ml milk
3 large free range eggs beaten
3 tsp vanilla extract
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
6 ripe apricots (or tinned apricot halves)
I used 2 sliced nectarines as well!
1 tblspn runny honey
50g slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 180C or 160C fan forced.
Grease and line a square cake pan with baking paper.

Place all dry ingredients into a food processor or thermomix and whiz together. Add the wet ingredients – oil, milk, eggs, vanilla – as well as the lemon zest and whiz again until all combined.

Pour the mixture into the tin.

Place apricot halves and nectarine slices in a random order on top for a rustic effect. Drizzle with honey. Sprinkle with slivered almonds. Bake for 1 hour, then set aside to cool in the tin for 20 mins.

Serve just as it is or with Greek yoghurt.

How to make the best cheese scones

Home made cheese scones on table cloth I love a good scone, especially when they are paired with a chunky berry jam and a little whipped cream. Sometimes though, tasty cheese scones waft across my memory bank, courtesy of my Nan who often whipped up a batch.  Nan is not here to ask, so I set about creating my own and I hope that you are as pleased with the result as I am (and the rest of the taste testers). This recipe for cheese scones could not be easier. Substituting the evaporated skim milk for cream and grating the cheese reduces the fat content whilst injecting a healthy dose of calcium into these babies. Thanks to Nan for the inspiration.

Cheese Scones Ingredients 4 cups self-raising flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder 1 cup grated cheese (I used 1/2 reduced fat cheddar and 1/2 parmesan) plus a little extra for topping 1 cup soda water 1 cup light evaporated milk Method Mix all ingredients gently together in a bowl with a bread knife to form a dough.  Knead dough a little on a floured surface and roll out to approximately 5cm in height. Using a scone cutter, cut out as many as possible (mine made around 12-15 scones), place on lined baking tray and top with a little extra grated cheese. Bake in a moderate oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden. Serve warm and you will be eternally popular with all that eat them. Also perfect for the lunchbox.

 

Chocolate Cake Batter Chia Pudding Recipe

chia puddingIt might seem like I am a little obsessed with chia seeds lately as it’s not long ago that I was whipping up a batch of Blueberry Chia Jam. The thing is, I can’t help it.  These little seeds are just so good for our health with their bundle of healthy omega-3 fats, fibre and protein.  Chia seeds can be added to so many dishes, including puddings which are pretty hot right now.  I have tried a few of these, but none that I really loved.  In my search for recipe idea’s I came across a handful that promised the taste and texture of cake batter and given that I was a helicopter kid waiting for that hotly contested mixing spoon, I was quite keen on the idea.  The problem with some of these recipes though, is that although promoted as ‘healthy’ they sometimes contain way too much fat and sugar even if they do originate from a ‘natural’ source. So, I created my own version of the Chocolate Cake Batter Chia Pudding, which I made for breakfast this morning and then launched on the Morning Show on 6PR 882Am radio.  It is very delicious and I think that you might like to try it.

Chocolate Cake Batter Chia Pudding

Ingredients: (Serves 6) 6 tablespoons chia seeds 6 Medjool dates, seeded and chopped 1 x 400 ml can evaporated light milk with coconut 1/4 cup rolled oats 1 tablespoon of nut butter (whichever takes your fancy) 1 x 400 ml can light coconut milk Method: Mix all ingredients together except the coconut milk and place in the refrigerator for one hour.  Place mixture into a blender and add 2 x tablespoons of cacao powder, 1 x teaspoon vanilla extract and a splash of milk if more liquid is required.  Pour into six small bowls, jars or cups and leave overnight in the fridge. In the morning: Open the tin of coconut milk and carefully scoop out the solids at the top of the can, placing in a mixing bowl.  Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence and using electric beaters, beat until smooth and soft peaks form. Spoon a little onto the top of each pudding and finish these cute little bundles with a sprinkling of finely grated dark chocolate. Nutrition per serve = 230 calories, 8.5 g fat, 23.5 g carbohydrates, 11 g protein and 250 mg calcium

 

Pancakes: a flippin’ good idea

Pancakes Blueberry Med There is something comforting about a fluffy stack of pancakes, wafting their yeasty smell toward you.  Sunday mornings are a given for making pancakes in our house.  That is, I make them while the hungry hordes devour them. I have my own special memories of sitting on the kitchen bench as a kid, while my mum taught me that little bubbles on their once smooth surface meant that pancakes were about to go flipping and flying. Today is not a Sunday but it is indeed a day for pancakes.  The 17th February marks UnitingCare Australia Pancake Day, which is all about the double whammy of having fun with pancakes and raising money for people in need. This date has been chosen because it is also Shrove Tuesday, a special day in the christian calendar and traditionally the last day to eat all the flour, eggs and dairy products in your kitchen before the start of Lent, a time of abstinence and reflection in the 40 days before Easter. Shrove Tuesday is also known as FAT Tuesday so go easy on getting all those ingredients cleaned up in one day! Pancakes can be the perfect pre-training snack or meal and a delicious breakfast.  The trick is in building a couple of levels rather than the skyscraper stack and choose a delicious, healthy topping. My all-time favourite pancake recipe is from the original ‘Taste of Fitness’ cookbook by fellow Dietitian, Helen O’Connor.  For perfect, fluffy pancakes every time, these are just the ticket.

The BEST Pancakes

1.5 cups self-raising flour 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 2 tablespoons caster sugar 2 eggs, lightly beaten 1 cup low fat milk 3/4 cup greek style natural yoghurt Putting it all together: 1. Sift together flour and baking powder into a bowl, add sugar and mix to combine. Add eggs, milk and yoghurt and mix until smooth. 2. Heat a non-stick frypan over a medium heat, pour 3 tablespoons of batter into pan and cook for 1 minute each side or until golden. 3. Serve with a selection of banana, blueberries, or stewed apple and a drizzle of maple syrup.

 

Warning: Energy Speed Bump Ahead

making biscuits

In Italy, the snack or Il spuntino is reserved solely for children.  Adults simply do not snack here, unless one is enjoying an aperitif and a few morsels of potato chips fall into ones mouth. In stark opposition, the Australian snack movement is alive and kicking and research revealed this week by Roy Morgan Research shows that the potato chip is still the most popular snack in the land down under. In the year up to March 2013,  over a third of Australians 14+ years had purchased the product in an average four week period.  Sweet biscuits slid into second place and nuts rounded out the Top Three! From a nutritionists perspective this news is somewhat gloomy, although not surprising. However, this data is somewhat misleading as basic foods such as fruit, dairy products and bread are not considered to be in the snack food category for these types of surveys but are very often used as everyday snacks.

For some of us, snacking is an essential part of keeping energy levels high, while for others, it doesn’t even rate a mention. Snacking can be great for keeping hunger pangs at bay, controlling weight, satisfying small appetites and providing important nutrients. However, in our current climate of upsizing, snacks can contribute significantly more kilojoules (calories) to our diets than are required. Larger portions have more kilojoules and more kilojoules mean weight gain.

Your lifestyle and routine will probably dictate whether you are a three-meal-per-day person or a “grazer.” The term grazing is so called because cows like to do the same thing. You may not like to think of yourself out in the field chomping down on grass but grazing usually means snacking or having five to six smaller meals spread out over the day. It doesn’t matter if you have three large meals or three smaller meals and three snacks each day. Weight maintenance is achieved when your food intake matches your expenditure (exercise), regardless of when you consume them.

Snacking can be a great way of keeping your blood sugar and energy levels stable but keep a check on what and how much you are actually eating over the day. It can be easy to exceed your daily energy requirements through regular snacking, so make sure that you don’t fill up on biscuits, cakes, lollies, chocolate and chips or whatever is handy from the vending machine. These types of foods are high in sugar, fat and salt but low in fibre and are certainly not good for your health.

To be a healthy snacker, planning is important. Shopping regularly and having healthy snacks on hand makes it less likely that you will reach for fatty and sugary foods containing massive amounts of kilojoules. It will also save you money as items purchased from vending machines and convenience stores are often priced at a premium. Regardless of whether you are at work, school, university or at home, planning and packing your food intake the night before is a strategy employed by many healthy snackers. The routine of packing a lunch bag for school works just as well when heading off to work although your lunchbox may not be quite as colourful as it used to be!

A problem time for many people is the third quarter of the day, kicking off after lunch and finishing around 3 p.m. This is often when you feel least energetic – and you try to ward off the desire to lie down on the desk or carpet. A snack is often required to boost blood sugar levels but can be a nutrition trap. It is tempting to grab something quick and easy, but pre-packaged convenience snacks will not give you the long-lasting energy you need to get through the day.

When choosing snacks, the following guide may be useful. Look at their size and energy value to ensure snacks don’t totally eclipse your daily food intake:

For Weight Loss                      Choose 420 kJ/100 calories at each snack

For Weight Maintenance   Choose 840 kJ/200 calories at each snack

For Weight Gain                      Choose 1260 kJ/300 calories or more at each snack

 

Some quick and easy snacks include:

  •   1 slice of fruit or raisin toast with thinly spread jam
  •   Wholegrain toast or crumpet with a light spread of peanut butter or vegemite
  •   Small fruit smoothie
  •   Handful of wholegrain crackers with cheese
  •   1 punnet of strawberries
  •   1 piece of fruit such as an apple, banana or pear
  •   Low fat, regular-sized coffee (latte, cappuccino, flat white)
  •   200 g low fat yoghurt
  •   20 almonds, cashews or pistachios
  •   1 boiled egg
  •   100 g tin tuna in brine or spring water
  •   1 small tin of fruit in natural juice