Are you looking to make healthy food choices that are balanced and satisfying? Filling in for Joann Klinkner, join guest author Rachel Smith as she shares “What We Want: Satisfying Snacks for Balanced Women.“
Written by Rachel Smith
I’ve accepted the fact that I am what I eat. As a Pilates teacher and advocate of women’s health I take that seriously. I snack like I mean it. That’s why I like to make food choices that are balanced and satisfying. Most of the time I succeed because they really are easy to make and enjoy.
Snacks should satisfy you for a couple hours and give you energy. They should nourish your mind and body. They should not make you more hungry or intensify your cravings later in the day. I’ve always been active and had a big appetite. As the years go on, I’ve accepted that I can’t get away with what I did in my early 20’s, but I’m not willing to resort to those high-carb, low satisfaction “100 calorie packs” of Oreos or potato chips.
Since I love to cook and experiment in the kitchen, the trick for me is a balance of protein + complex carbs + fat + fiber, as a variety of flavors and textures like sweet + salty + creamy + crunchy. Here are my food formulas if you’re a woman wanting a satisfying snack.
Medjool dates stuffed with + a pecan + cheese
I like a small hunk of Parmesan cheese, but any cheese you love or even just a sprinkling of sea salt for the vegans out there will do. This snack is satisfying with two of the big dates. Your mouth will love the natural sweetness of the date contrasting with the cheese which is salty- everything you crave without being full of stuff you don’t need. You can substitute any nut you like here.
2% plain Greek yogurt + a drizzle of agave + cacao nibs + tropical fruit (pineapple, mango, papaya, etc)
Oh yeah. A favorite snack of a friend of mine, this is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth while still giving you the staying power of high protein Greek Yogurt. The cacao nibs are not your sugary chocolate chip variety. These are from whole cacao beans and are full of antioxidants and fiber. Think tropical vacation and maybe add some shredded coconut.
Air popped popcorn + melted Earth Balance butter + curry powder
Popcorn reminds me of movie nights, laughing and mindless eating with the people I love. At my house, we like to decide what to watch while the air-popper is popping a half cup of kernels. I leave the Earth Balance butter up to my husband- he’s somehow a master at getting it evenly drizzled. We like the curry powder to have some kick.
Chocolate + just the good stuff
For some, chocolate is a perfectly acceptable and very satisfying snack. My Grandma called it “dope” in the 60‘s for good reason. If you need a treat, Go Raw makes an organic raw chocolate that comes in individually wrapped bite size pieces and you can find at any grocery store with a healthy foods section. No sugar, just raw agave nectar. Their mint chocolate is amazing as it melts in your mouth. For more balance, try what I called the “PMS Cure”: melt a couple squares of chocolate with a quarter cup uncooked oatmeal and stir in a teaspoon of peanut butter. Microwave for 30 seconds. Similar to a no-bake cookie. Fiber + good fats + chocolate! Completely satisfied.
Sliced Avocado + warm Dave’s Killer bread (toasted) + Frank’s Hot Sauce
One of my favorite satisfying snacks. I learned in cooking school that Frank’s Hot Sauce is an amazing secret ingredient. Every cook must have it in their kitchen. It adds acid and a little kick to anything it touches. Put it to good use here to turn up the volume on this healthy fat and protein topped whole grain toast. Getting a fresh and perfectly ripe avocado makes all the difference. I usually use half and give the other half to my girls to share.
Mini + Protein+ Salad
The creamy salads of olden times have a bad rap for being high fat. This one is healthy and I think tastes even better than the old versions. Inspired from a recipe in Amy Green’s Simply Sugar and Gluten Free Cookbook.
+ Sauce: 1 part plain Fat-free Greek yogurt + 1 part regular or light mayo + Franks hot sauce (a couple shakes)
+ Protein: canned wild salmon, canned tuna, left over chicken rotisserie, hard boiled egg- enough to be coated evenly with sauce
+ Chopped up crunchy or brined vegetables: celery, red peppers, chopped pickles, capers are some of my favorites.
= Eat by itself cold or use as a pita spread.
Freeze Dried Fruit Crisps
These remind me of the obsession with freeze dried ice cream we had back in elementary school. The apples, strawberries and bananas, or even peaches and mangoes come in a convenient single serve bag and pack a measly 40 calories on average but they have a great light crunch and are sweet and delicious. Pair with a Baby Bell cheese for more staying power.
Quick Caprese Salad
I use one of my daughter’s mozzarella cheese sticks since they are a great size to slice and add to a handful of prewashed cherry tomatoes. I toss them in a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, and if I’m lucky, a basil leaf plucked from my window sill basil plant. Never been faster to make and still tastes great.
Make your own “kitchen-sink” trail mix
It seems like every premade trail mix has something that I could do without. So, I made my own and you should try it too. Everything but the kitchen sink is allowed here. I was told raw pumpkin seeds would be a great healthy addition to my diet, but eating seeds to me is too akin to eating bird food. So, I added some cacao nibs, dried currants, and unsweetened chocolate mini-morsels and made a to-die-for trail mix of my own. Make use of the bulk section at your local store, find a combination of sweet/salty/fiber/protein/fat you love, and switch it up each week. You may find some new power foods you really like (Goji berries anyone?).
Kikkoman Shiro Miso soup packet + Dried Wasabi peas
For the savory types out there, a cup of hot water in a mug can make a great snack with these packets. They are convenient to keep at your desk, just make sure you check your teeth for stray seaweed before you go to your next meeting. I learned the hard way. If you’d like a little crunch to go with them, try some dried wasabi peas from the Asian foods aisle.
We all know deep down that staying healthy is really a matter of keeping a balance between our intake and output, stress and fulfillment. Your eating should follow suit and be balanced as well by knowing how to make some easy and satisfying snacks. Accept what really satisfies you, and achieve it through balance. Maybe then you’ll find that philosophy popping up in other areas of your life as well.
Identity Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life — Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.TM Every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s.
What have you accepted in your life that took time, physically or mentally?
I’ve accepted that I chronically over-commit. This creates an inability to really dive into something wholly. Part of this is that I can actually juggle a lot, but I’ve learned that it doesn’t mean that I have to juggle a lot, and that having open space in my life creates joy. I’ve also learned that my cure in a time of over commitment is to snuggle under the covers with a good book in silence when I need a break. I used to be more anxious when I didn’t know this about myself but over time I’ve learned that I can control feeling over committed by balancing it with some quiet time. Recharging does me wonders!
What do you appreciate about yourself and within your life?
I appreciate that I am not what I seem on the outside and that’s perfectly fine. On the outside I seem very “mom,” “suburban,” “blond,” etc. There’s nothing wrong with those but they don’t really reflect my quirks and individuality, or what people assume I’m like when they see me. If they know me, they’d know I speak Chinese, I take artistic photos of food, I write dark poetry, I love electronic music, I practiced Kung Fu. If people don’t know me, they treat me like a doll or assume I drive a mini-van and watch Dr. Phil. But, I know I’m not like that. I also love meeting people who aren’t what they seem at first glance as well.
I also appreciate that I met a man who is very devoted to his family, even if it took me awhile to see that he was doing it in his own way, by achieving success in the early years of our marriage and at times being very absorbed in his work. He is truly a super-dad/husband. I think having a strong and capable partner to weather through life is extremely important and I appreciate that I found one.
What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What goals do you still have?
One of my most rewarding achievements in my life was giving birth twice and now, being a mom. It’s such a great responsibility and is at times chaotic but I can’t imagine my life without my daughters. People say that all the time but giving life to someone doesn’t get less amazing. My daughters and their lives changed me for the better and I hope I continue to earn their love as much as I freely give mine.
My goals for the future are shifting as I get older. I think all women should have the opportunity to shift in their lives at some point from creating and/or nurturing life to focusing on self-fulfillment. Or strive to combine both. My goals include writing more; articles, or possibly a young adult book centering on some formative experiences from my teenage years. Possibly a children’s book, or a cookbook as I love all things food. Or all the above. I want to travel more internationally when my girls get older. Garden some heirloom varieties for cooking. I want to produce music or own a small restaurant/pub with my husband as a retirement gig.
What is your not-so-perfect way? What imperfections and quirks create your Identity?
If you saw my kitchen or my linen closet, you’d see I’m not a neat freak. Now, I love it when everything’s in its place, but it just doesn’t take a high priority in my day to day. There are so many more important things in life! I’ll do towel stacking and sheet folding if I have to, but if I don’t, well, I don’t. Yes, I sleep on wrinkly sheets. Maybe that’s why I love hotels so much.
I’m also highly critical of myself and that can get projected onto others as well. As much as I am a “slacker” in the folding sheets and towels department I am neurotic at times in the self improvement department. In Confession once a Priest told me to “relax” as my penitence. Enough said.
How would you complete the phrase “I Love My…?”
I love my reflective side. It gives depth to my life, relationships and conversations. How many times have I heard from a friend, colleague, relative “I never thought of that…” I love that I can somehow enhance their life too, by reflecting on my own. I’m convinced if we all told our real stories more often we would all benefit. This is one reason why I love writing.