When I gave up my ice-cream-every-night habit, I had to replace it with something. We try to eat dinner as a family at 5:30, and I’m just not going to make it to bedtime without a snack most nights. And especially at first, it was hard not to cave and have the sweet treat I was craving. Enter: real food snacks.
My keys to a satisfying snack:
- Make sure it has more than one component (i.e., not just carbs – hey, bowl of cereal, or not just a handful of nuts). It feels less like a compromise and helps keep me from raiding the pantry againtimesfive.
- Take a few minutes to fix it. I’m usually kind of “over” fixing people food by the end of the day, and as a rule I’m much better at ensuring that my kids eat plenty of fruits and vegetables than I am at preparing them for myself, so it’s tempting to just grab whatever is easiest. But taking the time – and I mean less than 5 minutes for all my favorites below – to lovingly fix myself a good snack makes it a lot more satisfying. It also ensures that I don’t mindlessly eat the rest of the box of crackers/bag of chips/block of cheese if I put my serving on a plate.
- Eat something filling. Unless you’re really just feeling munchy, a snack doesn’t have to be throwaway calories – it’s a chance to give your body more of the nutrients it needs. I haven’t calculated the calories for these snacks, but I would guess they’re all over 250, and they’re not going to leave you hungry!
Now, I’m not a nutritionist or any other kind of expert, just a hungry girl trying to kick a sugar addiction. These are some of my favorite satisfying real food snacks, in no particular order:
- Popcorn and an orange. My family always drank orange juice with popcorn, and I don’t know if it’s just a nostalgically normal thing for me or if it’s really and truly the perfect salty/sweet balance, but I LOVE this combo. While the popcorn pops (I use my microwave popping bowl!), I cut up the orange by slicing off the ends, then trimming off the peel and cutting up the sections. It’s my favorite way to eat an orange and you have just the right amount of time while you’re waiting for the popcorn. And yes, I put a drizzle of butter on my popcorn. :o)
- Chips and guacamole. Check out these single-serving guac cups from Costco! I LOVE them. It’s the perfect portion, doesn’t contain any weird ingredients, and they keep for several weeks (unlike homemade guac, which starts looking sketchy pretty fast). I also like to use a tub as a salad topping/dressing replacement! If you read about how I
fudgeadapt the real food rules, you know that I believe in tortilla chips. These are the quinoa and black and bean ones I mentioned in this post about my favorite things from Trader Joe’s. You could also bake your own, like I do when I make crockpot chicken tortilla soup, or do what Jay does – throw a couple of plain corn tortillas in the toaster and then break them up!
- Cheese and crackers and grapes. These are the “woven wheats” from Trader Joe’s, and contain just whole wheat, oil, and salt. I’m partial to Cabot Extra Sharp cheddar cheese, but any cheese will do! Grapes make your personal cheese plate feel more complete and beautiful. Super satisfying.
- Hummus and veggies and whole wheat pita. You could just eat baby carrots from the bag, or just pita, but for me, part of the deal is treating myself to a nicely prepared snack, so I need both! I love pita brushed with oil, salted, and baked, but I often just split it into it’s skinny halves and toast them. (I mean, I love myself, but there are limits.) Costco also has single-serving hummus cups!
- Peanut butter and honey sandwich. Honestly, if I could only eat one food for the rest of my life, this might be it. If I haven’t eaten peanut butter for breakfast, I probably ate it for lunch, but if I didn’t (or sometimes even if I did), a peanut butter sandwich with plenty of honey on fresh bread is the best snack you could give me. (Side note: since I read about it on 100 Days of Real Food, I started buying honey whole wheat bread from Great Harvest. It’s made with just whole wheat flour, water, honey, yeast, and salt [a big difference from most store-bought bread], and it’s delicious! It makes the bread part of whatever you’re eating more than just a vehicle for the fillings, and it’s killer as grilled cheese. I’m lucky enough to have a Great Harvest within a few minutes of my house, but I used to just go twice a month and either freeze some or just have sandwich bread every other week.)