Happy National Nutrition Month friends!!! This is seriously my favorite time of year because I get to talk about all things nutrition without people thinking I’m nuts. I was so excited this year that I even gave a way free supermarket tours to friends and family. This years theme is “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right”. This can mean so many things to so many people.
When I hear the word “Savor” I immediately imagine fresh garden veggies and sweet juicy ripened fruits. Mmmmm my mouth is literally watering now! While I’m huge proponent of keeping my meals and snacks as fresh and natural as possible, the fact is, sometimes you need to get inventive to keep your diet as healthy as possible.
I attempt to keep balance in my life between fresh and prepackaged convenience foods. For instance, I prepare all my weekly lunches and breakfast meals early in the week so that I have easy access to healthy homemade meals to avoid eating out. There are days however, that breakfast just doesn’t always quite carry me to lunch and I find myself pulling into the gym parking lot with a rumble in my tummy. These are the days handy prepackaged snacks are prefect!
Here are a few of my favorite snacks and healthy hacks to help tide me over when I don’t have any broccoli in my purse.
Manitoba Harvest – Hemp Heart Bars
These bars are seriously delicious! They come in three flavors: cinnamon, chocolate and vanilla. My favorite way to eat them is with a cup of greek yogurt for breakfast. It’s especially delicious if you break the bar up and mix it with yogurt and raisins. YUM! Each 45 gram bar contains 10 grams of plant-based protein and 10 grams of omegas, which are the heart healthy fats, I also find these bars great as pre-workout snack and keep one or two in my gym bag just in case I need that little something before my workout.
Emerald Nuts Breakfast Blends and Planters Nut-rition
Nuts are always a great snack because again they’re packed with protein, fiber, as well as magnesium and potassium which makes them very heart healthy. Did you know that people who eat nuts as part of a heart-healthy diet can lower their LDL or “bad” cholesterol level in their blood? High LDL is one of the primary causes of heart disease. Be careful when choosing packaged nuts. While I love Emerald Nuts Breakfast blends, some of their flavors can be a little high in sugar. Their chocolate covered coffee bean blend, for example, is sinfully good! I reserve that flavor for when I have a real sweet tooth. Also, be careful when buying seasoned nut mixes. It’s best to go with plain roasted or lightly salted to avoid added sodium or fat. I try and keep a few bags of roasted nuts in my purse at all times. I’ve literally got them stashed in the car, my gym bag, my desk drawer at work….everywhere!
Skinny Pop Popcorn or Smartfood Popcorn
These brands in particular are my favorite because they are sold in small 100 calorie (or less) packs and are available at most major grocers such as Walmart and Albertson’s. Did you know that popcorn is actually a whole grain? Its recommended that we make at least half of all our grain whole in order to stay healthy. I’m always cautious with popcorn because its very easy to over eat or mindlessly snack. That’s another reason I love Skinny Pop and Smartfood, they pre-portion the packages! They are also delicious! Skinny Pop is lightly salted and Smartfood has flavors such as white cheddar and kettle corn all under 100 calories. I tend to get a little “Snacky” around 3pm and a small bag of Smartfood’s kettle corn it like H-E-A-V-E-N.
Flavored Carbonated Water
Now this is trick I learned a few years back when I was trying to give up sodas. There are those days that I just don’t want plain water. Sometimes I just want a fizzy soda but I don’t want all the sugar and calories that go along with it. On these days I pick up a La Croix or make my own flavored carbonated water. I like La Croix because its naturally sweetened and doesn’t contain any of those artificial sweeteners like aspartame. If I don’t have any on hand, I make my own. I keep these little drink enhancers at the house for the kids. I like the great value brand from Walmart because again, the contain no artificial sweeteners and come in a wide range of flavors. I’ll mix a few squirts of the drink enhancer into a glass of Perrier or other plain sparkling water and voila! Soda hack without the sugar or calories!
If you follow me on social media you might already know that I’m a Nuun fanatic! In fact, I’m part of Team Nuun 2016 as well as a field hydration specialist. I started drinking Nuun when I started running as a means of hydration in the hot Texas summer months. Nuun is an effervescent hydration tablet. They offer several different tablet options to meet your needs. They have Nuun Active which has a higher electrolyte concentration to replenish lost stores due to sweating from physical activity but they also offer Nuun All Day and U Natural which both have lower electrolyte concentrations for everyday drinks. They’re motto is “Make your water count” I keep a tube a Nuun in my desk at work and also in my purse at all times. You never know when you’re going to need more than just water. Gatorade and other sports drink contain way too much sugar and can really wreck havaac on your diet if consumed everyday. Nuun is great alternative with just 10 calories and 1g of sugar or less.
So there you have it friends! Savoring the flavor of eating healthy can sometimes mean getting inventive with you snacks and drink. The struggles is real! I hope some of these health hacks will help get you through those hard days. If you’re interested in sampling the Hemp Heart Bars, Manitoba Harvest is running a photo contest. (Details here). You can also use the discount code hhbarlaunch1015 for 15% off your next order! (Expires 4/31/2016)
Priscilla is Dallas/Ft. Worth based nutritionist and blogger.