Mar 27

To Snack or Not to Snack?

apple,granola bar, almonds, and chocolate
Does snacking help you stay energized or does it just add empty calories?

Americans are ambivalent about snacking. Most of us try to avoid snacking, but when we do snack, we feel guilty.  In spite of guilt and avoidance, Americans snack 2.3 times per day. Snacks contribute up to 24% of your total calories consumed. Americans’ top snack choices are in order of preference:

  1. Coffee drinks and coffee
  2. Soft drinks
  3. 100 Calorie Packs
  4. Pretzels
  5. Candy jar in office
  6. Whatever is in the break room
  7. Vending machine
  8. Chips
  9. Cookies
  10. Ice Cream

Snacking can have positive health benefits. Snacks can provide energy all day long. Snacks can prevent the ravenous hunger that promotes eating too fast, making bad food choices, and overeating. But regular snackers should realize that snacks serve as a bridge between meals–and, furthermore, snacks are NOT intended to fill you up.

Guidelines for Healthy Snacking

            How can you snack healthfully? Consider these questions:

To determine how many snacks you need, look at your daily schedule:

  1. What time do you wake up?
  2. What time do you go to bed?
  3. What time do you usually eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner?

Once you’ve identified your meal routine, you can schedule your snacks. First, consider how long your meals “hold” or satisfy you. When do you get hungry after breakfast? When do you get hungry in the afternoon? When do you get hungry in the evening before bed? If you’re up for more than three hours after dinner, you may need snack. Normal hunger occurs every three-four hours. Meals should be small enough to last 2-4 hours. Snacks will last 1-2 hours. If your meals are lasting more than four hours, you need to eat less at that meal.

What snacks are recommended? Snacks should have fiber, protein, and fat to stabilize blood sugar levels. A general guideline for calories is 100-150 calories for each snack, but for those with higher metabolisms, snacks can be 200-250 Calories. Some recommended snacks are one ounce of nuts, Greek yogurt, fresh fruit with skin or seeds, half sandwich on whole wheat bread, nutrition bars/shakes with fiber and/or protein, small frozen meals, and soup. Sweets are not necessarily off limits.

Compare nutrition content of the Top-Ten Snacks with recommended snacks

Food

Serving Size

Calories

Protein

Fat

Fiber

Almonds

1 ounce—23 almonds

160

6

14

3

Café Mocha with Whipped Cream

16 oz grande

330

13

15

2

Chicken Noodle Soup

1 cup

75

4

2

1

Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 each homemade

156

2

9

0

Chocolate Candy Bar

1 ounce

145

2

9

1

Fresh Fruit
Orange

1

62

1

0

3

Greek yogurt-Chobani Simply 100

5.3 oz cup

100

12

0

5

Ice Cream

½ cup

178

3

12

0

Pop

12 oz

151

0

0

0

Potato Chips

1 oz(approx 15 chips)

152

2

10

1

Pretzels  1 oz=3 rods, classic style

110

3

0

1

Turkey Sandwich

½ sandwich

135

12

2.5

2

 

What would you need to do to make snacking a healthy habit? Replace empty-calorie foods with foods higher in protein, fat, and fiber?  Pare down the size of your meals? How do you choose your snacks?

Jan 27

Think Mediterranean for Lunch

Mediterranean GratinMy sister-in-law wanted a pasta-chickpea recipe, and this was as close as I could come. I ate this for lunch several days in a row and it reheated well. I am surprised that this recipe only serves four. It seems like it yielded 8 cups and I got six servings from the recipe. Now that I’m changing my eating habits,I wonder what I will do with all those cans of cream of mushroom soup on my shelf.

Mediterranean Gratin

Makes 4 servings

1 box (5.8 oz) roasted garlic and olive oil flavor couscous mix

6 cups fresh baby spinach leaves (5 oz)

2 tablespoons water

½ cup roasted red bell peppers (from 7.25-oz jar), drained, chopped

1 ½ teaspoons grated lemon peel

¼ teaspoon salt

1 can (15 to 16 oz) garbanzo beans, drained, rinsed

1 cup crumbled feta cheese (4 oz)

½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts

1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil

  1. Heat oven to 350F. Make couscous as directed on box for version without olive oil.
  2. Meanwhile, spray 11×7-inch (2 quart)glass baking dish or gratin dish with cooking  spray.

In 12-inch skillet, place spinach and 2 tablespoons water, cook over medium heat 2 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until spinach is wilted.

  1. Stir in cooked couscous, roasted red peppers, lemon peel, salt, beans, and ½ cup of the cheese. Spread mixture in baking dish.
  2. In small bowl, mix remaining cheese, walnuts, and oil. Sprinkle over couscous mixture.
  3. Bake uncovered 20 to 25 minutes or until heated through.

From Betty Crocker Easy Everyday Vegetarian Cookbook

Aug 20

Another quick beef recipe: Asian Beef and Noodles

Blame Melissa Larson. She got me started. I tried the Rock and Roll Beef Wrap last night and it was delicious. This recipe is from the Beef Board, too. It’s been around for ten years or so. Try it. You can vary the vegetable mixture to any vegetables you have on hand.

Asian Beef and Noodles
Makes 4 servings

Total Preparation and Cooking Time: 25 minutes

1 pound ground beef
2 packages (3 ounces each) Oriental flavor instant Ramen noodles
2 cups frozen vegetable mixture
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion

1. In large nonstick skillet, brown ground beef over medium heat 10 to 12 minutes or until beef is no longer pink. Break ground beef into 3/4 –inch pieces. Remove with slotted spoon; pour off drippings. Season beef with one seasoning packet from noodles; set aside.

2. In same skillet, combine 2 cups water, vegetables, noodles(broken up), ginger, and remaining seasoning packet. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Cover; simmer 3 minutes or until noodles are tender, stirring occasionally. Return beef to skillet; stir in green onion. Makes 4 servings.

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