A Snack or a Treat?
I remember a conversation I had with my sister about ten years ago. I was there for a visit, and on a trip somewhere, I bought a cookie for each of my nieces. I told my sister about them, and asked her permission before handing them out. I said, "I got a snack for the girls." Her response was memorable. "I know it's a little thing, and it may seem silly, but we refer to those as treats, as a way of saying they are just that -- treats or occasional things. Snacks are what we eat between meals to fuel our bodies."
I was impressed, and a little chagrined. How many times had I turned a routine snack into an unhealthy indulgence? Too many, I'm afraid.
Now, there are more opportunities than ever to make healthy snack choices that fuel your body, but feel a little indulgent as well. I think we all know what wonderful snacks fruits and vegetables make. They are low-calorie and packed with numerous health benefits. The trouble starts when trying to find creative ways to change up those fruits and vegetables or to choose snacks that are high in protein, full of good carbs, or those that meet any other criteria you may have.
It's hard to, for example, buy a snack mix with so many claiming to be healthy. My local grocery store has a dizzying variety, but my shopping assistant may not have the time to read everything.
I'd like to tell you about a wonderful site I've found for a wide variety of foods. Not all of them are considered healthy, but I am able to easily make informed choices. At Nuts.com www.nuts.com , you can find nuts of all kinds, of course, along with dried fruits and vegetables, foods with an international flavor, and that's only the start. Visit their Healthy Snacks Page to find suggested items for vegans, kids, high protein snacks, and much more.
As a person who is blind, there are some features that make using this site particularly appealing. The entire site is quite accessible using a wide variety of browsers and screen readers. Ingredients and preparation instructions (where applicable) are listed. I don't need to rely on someone to read packaging information, but can explore the options at times that are convenient for me.
Some of my long-time favorites are the roasted mixed nuts. They have both salted and unsalted varieties. I like salt as much as the next person, but these nuts are so delicious, I didn't even miss it! Who needs candy when you have jumbo Medjool dates? They have numerous health benefits, and can tame the most serious sweet tooth.
In the past year, I have discovered some of their more spicy snacks. I have tried several brands of falafel mix, end like the one sold by Nuts.com the best -- hands down! I have made falafel balls and had one as a snack, but my favorite way to fix it is to add a little more water than is recommended. I've varied the water and enjoyed it as a porridge or warm dip for cool veggies, or added a bit more water and enjoyed it as a sort of bean soup. Because I thoroughly enjoy chickpeas, I looked for other snacks that have them as a main ingredient, and was delighted to find something called Chana Chor Garam. According to the website, this crunchy snack is an excellent topping for soups and salads, but I just enjoy it by the handful, which can be a problem.
Even the healthiest snacks can get us into trouble when we eat more of them than we need. I have a small Tupperware container with a lid. It holds 1/4 cup, which is about the right serving size for many snacks. An online search did not yield many snack-sized cups in this size, but I did find 1/2 cup containers with lids. You can buy these Rubbermaid TakeAlongs Twist and Seal Food Storage Containers, 1.2-Cup, Clear, Set of 4 from Amazon, and likely from a store in your area. You can also find that larger pill boxes will sometimes hold an appropriate-sized serving. Of course, you can use disposable options as well. The important thing, once you've chosen your healthy snacks, is enjoying them in moderate amounts.
What are some of your favorite snacks? Are there helpful sites you have found, or do you have a great snacking tip to share? If so, we'd love to hear from you. Just access our contact form and drop us a line.
With the right mindset, the right resources, and a little portion control, just about any healthy snack can also be a wonderful treat!