Tuesday, January 26

Healthy Snacking

It's food week here on TFC. Perfect timing because food has been on my mind big time for the past week. I consider myself a pretty healthy person. I exercise regularly. I kicked that nasty smoking habit several years ago. I don't drink much. And I'm vegan. People often assume that being vegan automatically means you're a health nut... in fact you are probably starved. Not the case. There are still just as many unhealthy things out there for vegans to eat. And I'd been eating more and more of those lately. Oh and it didn't help that I decided I would cheat and eat dairy again while I was on my honeymoon. (Veganism is an ethical choice for me, so I feel guilty for the cows when I violate it, but you have to break your own rules from time to time.) I do that on occasion. Usually only for one day though--on my birthday. The result, I came home from my honeymoon three pounds heavier. It was time to get healthy again!

I'm also a big snacker--or grazer as my mom calls it. All the family gatherings there are trays of veggies and chips and salsa and potato chips and dip and especially lots of olives and chocolates around for grazing. Grazing/snacking is definitely a healthy way to eat. I've read in numerous places that its better for you to eat several small meals instead of big ones. But my downfall is that I snack when I'm not even hungry. I just have this need to chew. And if I bring a bag of chips up to my desk while I'm working... they just all disappear. Oh and working late night at a bar with access to both a popcorn maker and a fryer and frozen french fries... not good.

So I've been trying to reform my habits this past week. Since I'm all about writing things down and making lists, I've decided to try keeping a food journal. And it's definitely been keeping me in check. In the late afternoon when I'm tempted to grab cookies and tortilla chips, I actually stop to think about what I'm doing and I go that's not actually going to give me the energy I need, so I grab a yogurt and some pistachios instead.

The pistachios were on sale recently. I'd forgotten how much I love them. Carrot sticks are just as good to dip in hummus as chips are. And clementine oranges? Almost as satisfying as cookies. Okay not really, but the thing I really love about the cookies is the chocolate. I'm a chocolate fanatic. Fortunately Trader Joe's sells a bunch of dark chocolate and it's vegan. One or two pieces of that and an orange satisfies the sweet tooth. Another healthy snack for my sweet tooth (because my sweet tooth is my big weakness... well and the salt... love salt too) that I'd forgotten about is apple slices and peanut butter.

Oh and I have a new morning snack. It's something I was always afraid to try but then I was sent a big box of citrus fruits for the holidays.. Grapefruit! I thought it was a weird old lady food and that it would be bitter and horrible. But once I had it, I was geared up for the challenge and wanted to try it. The best thing about working at a bar is one of my customers always seems to have an answer for my conundrums. I've got the guy I can ask about computers, the one I can ask about anything home repair or construction related, and I've got some foodies. They explained the proper way to cut a grapefruit to me and filled me in on a little secret: you can sprinkle salt on grapefruit to reduce the bitterness and bring out it's natural flavor. Well, I love salt so I was happy to try that. And I'm now officially a grapefruit addict.

As for that pesky need to chew on things when I'm not even hungry--sugar-free gum. So far it seems to be working!

I'm already feeling better now that I'm doing this healthy snacking. What about you? What are some of your favorite healthy snacks cause I'm definitely looking for more. They say it takes 21 days to break an unhealthy habit, so I need some variety to keep me going!


Gerb said...

I'm not one to talk because I'm working hard to break my own (really) bad habits and get healthier this year, too.

I know what you mean about wanting something to chew. For me, it's all about the crunch. So I've gone back to the old stand-by when my kids were little - ants on a log (celery with a schmear of peanut butter down the center and a little line of raisins on the top.) OK, so I usually do without the raisins, but the celery/peanut butter combo is usually enough to get me over the afternoon munchies and satisfy the need to crunch.

Melissa Walker said...

I JUST had a grapefruit with my breakfast--I'm obsessed with them.

My downfall: salt n vinegar chips. CANNOT. GET. ENOUGH.

Alyson Noel said...

I'm not much of a snacker. I pretty much eat a really late breakfast, then dinner, and I'm good to go. I hear you on the need to chew though- as lately, because of the gum surgery/braces, I've been limited to only soft foods and I am longing to chew something again--i can't wait until I can bite into something and hear that satisfying "crunch!"

Oh, and as for alternatives to chips, I ate at a Rick Baylis restaurant in Chicago a few years back and they served guacamole with sliced jicama instead of chips and it was awesome--and way healthier too--oh, and you still get that crunch--you should try it!

Stephanie Kuehnert said...

Gerb- Ants on a log! Totally forgot about that awesomeness! Definitely picking up some celery to go with my PB (anything + PB makes me happy)

Melissa- Glad I'm not the only one obsessed with grapefruit. I'm eating one right now, lol. And Salt n vinegar chips are so good. Ah, total temptation.

Alyson, good advice about the jicama! I've only had that a few times a few years ago when a friend of mine was on a kick of eating it with hummus. Definitely worth getting again!

Wendy Toliver said...

I wish we had Trader Jo's here in Utah! :( Lots of great stuff there!)
My downfall is diet coke. Ick.

Bev Katz Rosenbaum said...

Thanks for all the nifty ideas!

gg said...