Healthy Snacks and Mind Games
Have you ever noticed that when you are trying to eat healthier, suddenly, donuts pop up everywhere? And you get invitations to go out to your favorite restaurant? And then someone has a birthday, so you have to eat cake? Sunday is your church potluck? Or your mom texts and says “Your daddy is frying fish for supper and I made a cheesecake. Stop by on your way home from work.” Okay…that last one is probably just me. There is nothing better than my Daddy’s fish, that he caught and fried up! It’s crisp, southern fried deliciousness. He always makes a big pan of Cajun seasoned fries to go with it. And a tall glass of my mom’s tea to wash it down! Wait…see…even this blogpost nearly got sidetracked by the things that tempt me. Luckily, I have a plan. I knew where I wanted this blog post to go when I sat down at the computer. I was mentally prepared and I had everything that I needed to make the post happen. Do ya see where I’m headed here? Yeah…we are gonna talk about being prepared to eat healthier. To have what you need, to make things happen, whether you are trying to be more health conscious, trying to lose weight or gain weight. Yeah, when I typed that last one, I rolled my eyes. I couldn’t help it.
I am not a heath nut. I’m not a guru. My weight fluctuates. Like most women, I have my fat clothes, my skinny clothes, and my comfortable clothes. I struggle like everyone else with the changes that your body goes through when you hit about 40. But I have learned a few things. There are some snack choices and tips that I can give. I can’t guarantee that you will lose 3 dress sizes in a week, but there are things that I do to reduce my stress level when it comes to eating right. I’d like to share those things with you, served up with a little humor.
First of all, you have to get your mind prepared. You have to be in that place, mentally. I do this by making a list. Yeah…I’m a list maker. I love a good list. And I love lining through a completed task. But if you aren’t a list person, then do whatever it is that you do to prepare yourself for a task. Give yourself a pep talk, if that is what you do. Read some sort of motivational book. I don’t know….sit crossed legged under a tree and chant. Do whatever you do to get your head in the zone. Then, set a day. I’m a Monday kind of girl. Mondays are my fresh start days. But if you can’t get motivated on Mondays, make it Tuesday. Or if you are the kind of person that loves to torture yourself, start on Friday. I don’t recommend this, but hey, if it works for you, do it. Once you have your head wrapped around that day, and you have your resolve in order, you have to take steps to prepare for success. This means meal, snack and beverage planning. Don’t wake up on THE day and realize that you have nothing but Twinkies in the pantry and chocolate milk in your refrigerator. First, get rid of all that. Even if you have to binge on it all weekend. It needs to be gone by Monday. I am going to have some healthy meal recipes coming up on the blog over the next few weeks. Food that I have tried, that maybe you haven’t or haven’t made at home. But in this post we are going to concentrate on snacks. Not any big recipe, but things that you can buy in your grocery store ready-made and pre-packaged. Yet, healthy. Because, as strange as it may sound, the most important thing is having a snack arsenal. I am not the kind of girl to sit around and munch on a celery stick. So, I have to be creative at times. My snack requirements are: 1. it must be portioned out. I cannot be trusted with a bag of anything. Not even the healthy stuff. 2. It must be portable. I need snacks that I can take to work with me. 3. Easy. Something I can grab and be on my way.
I live in a small town. My hometown has one grocery store. The town that I work in has a few more grocery chain stores but the closest Whole Foods is about 40 miles away. There is not a Trader Joe’s in the whole state. What I’m trying to say is that my options for “health food” or organic snack food is far more limited than if you live in a larger city. So, I’m not going to be showing you things that are going to be hard to find. Pretty much by the time it gets here, it’s everywhere.
First let’s talk nut butters. Nut butters confuse me. There are so many available, now. And I’m never really sure which is the most “healthy.” Last year I did a lot of research and comparisons. There is a lot of conflicting information out there. So, I’m not going to tell you which brand to buy or which kind of nut. Because, quite honestly, I switch around what I buy. I’m just going to talk about a couple of less common ones that I have tried and like and what the benefits are to them. I can tell you this…if you are trying to be healthy, you might want to avoid this ginormous jug of temptation.
However, that being said, if you want something delicious, that you can eat by the spoonful straight out of the jar, on bread, crackers, bananas or your finger, without regard to calories or health…this IS exactly what you want. I can’t be trusted with this stuff in the house. That is why this picture was taken on the shelf in the grocery store. You have no idea how hard it was not to put it in my basket.
A nut butter combination that I found, that is a little more unusual, is this coconut peanut spread.
This is made with 80% peanuts and extra virgin coconut oil. It is non GMO verified. 0g trans fat. Vegan and gluten-free. 190 calories, 16g fat, 6g protein. Taste? Surprisingly good. I say I was surprised because I don’t love coconut. I don’t have an aversion to it but it’s just not my favorite. This was not OVERLY coconutty, but there was a definite coconutish thing happening. I have bought several jars and it is a nice change to have in your pantry.
The next thing I’m going to talk about may weird you out, if you haven’t heard of it. But just keep an open mind. K? Powdered peanut butter. WHAT? Yes. I know. It sounds like some sorta hippie, weird-science kinda thing. I promise it is not. Well…it kinda is. But it is good. The brand that I have seen is called PB2. And it also comes in a peanut butter chocolate, as well. Basically, you mix one tablespoon of water for every two tablespoons of peanut powder.
It has 1.5g fat, 45 calories, 5g protein for the same serving size as other nut butters. With chocolate added, 45 calories, 1g fat, 4g protein. And oh my goodness! The taste! Both are really, really good! I have a friend who makes fun of my healthier eating habits. She laughs at me, while eating her double cheeseburger lunches. I asked her to try it…I left out the detail about it being powdered. And she loved it! She even said that she would buy it because it tasted so good and was so much less in calories and fat. Ahhhh…yes eventually, I will convert her to my healthier ways!
How about a little something crunchy to spread your favorite nut butter on? This suggestion may not be for everyone. But I really do like it. It’s called Mary’s Gone Crackers.
For 13 crackers there are 140 calories, 5g fat, 3g protein. They are organic, gluten-free, non-gmo, whole grain and vegan. The cracker itself looks rather suspicious. But really, get passed it.
It has a nutty, toasty flavor. You can see the seeds and grains in the crackers. I can’t help myself. When I’m being strict, the first thing I crave is crunch. I want chips. I want crackers. I want starch. This tricks my mouth into thinking I’ve had those things. Mind games.
The last few things are just kinda random. Not that unusual but they are some of my snack staples and I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about them.
First, the almonds. Cocoa roasted. It’s like they are just dusted with a bit of cocoa powder. They taste chocolatey with a hint of sweetness but not overly. 100 calorie individual packets that I can toss into my purse without weighing me down. I can even leave them in there for weeks at a time…I mean I could…not that I have. I’m just saying they still taste good…even if you forget they are there and discover them when you are changing bags. Moving on.
Ahh…Greek Yogurt. I always wanted to like you. You looked so creamy and delicious. But when I get you home, you make me gag a little. Yes, I have tried to like Greek Yogurt. It’s so healthy. I’ve tried adding fruits and granola. I’ve even tried the kind with fruit already added, even though I know that syrupy, sugar-filled fruit negates any healthful benefits. Still, it’s disgusting to me. Until I tried Dannon Light and Fit Vanilla. It really is good and not in a “it’s good for diet food” kinda way. But good like…I buy it when I’m not even trying to watch what I eat. If you think that you don’t like Greek Yogurt, try this. If you don’t like this, then give up…because the Greek yogurt thing ain’t happening for you.
Udi’s Vanilla Granola, I like because it is just a good, simple granola and I like granola. This is dairy, soy, egg and gluten-free. 140 calories for 1/4 cup, 6g fat, 4g protein.
When I am home and I have time to just relax, one of my favorite things is to put some fresh berries into a pretty, little glass bowl, put a spoonful of the vanilla greek yogurt on top and then a few sprinkles of the granola. It looks so pretty and makes it feel a little more indulgent.
The last thing that I want to leave you with, may be the most important thing of all. It is probably my biggest snack secret.
Snack sized zip baggies. I mention this for a couple of reasons. One, no matter how healthy the snack, if you eat more than one serving size, you’ve sabotaged yourself. Secondly, I have a portion control problem. It is a weakness and I know it. So, when I get home from the grocery store, before any snacking begins, I break everything down into the portion that I need. These snacks size baggies serve a dual purpose. They keep me honest because they won’t hold much more than a serving of anything. And, because a serving fills up the bag, it makes me feel like I’ve had a lot more than if I had a tiny 1/4 cup of something in a full sandwich bag. Again with the mind games.
So, these are some things that I like, that help me stay on the straight and narrow. Most of the time. I hope that you try some of the things I talked about. If you do, comment and let me know. Like it? Hate it? Have a better suggestion? I wanna hear!
As always, I thank you for taking the time to read The Skirt Girl. I hope that you subscribe and come back again. If you want periodic updates and extra tidbits, like The Skirt Girl on Facebook. In the coming weeks, I have some really fun things in store. Some recipes and some new things to try. And yes, we’ll be having another giveaway to my subscribers soon.