1. The snack has to be ready fast. No preparing, weighing or deciding.
2. The “old standby” snack foods are a thing of the past. Get them out of reach, if not out of the house altogether.
3. Your snacks have to be as tasty and healthy for you as your regular meals. “Cheezy-Poofs” taste great, but you’ll be at the bottom of the bag before you realize what you just did to your diet. Here are some grab ‘n go snacks, some make-in-quantity snacks for diabetics. Please remember that if you’re under a doctor’s care, you should check your diet with him/her first. I’m a Personal Chef, not a dietician or physician. On the other hand, remember to be your own advocate. No one puts food in your mouth except you.
Ok, so what’s to snack on? Something that is healthy, has protein to fill you up, and maybe a bit of fat to keep your mouth happy and make the snack last. Getting hungry in half an hour is out. Keep these on hand:
1. Mixed nuts. Two tablespoons, about a small handful, have a great mouth feel, take a while to eat when chewed thoroughly (you do take time to chew your food thoroughly, right?) and you’ll feel like you had something to eat. I like mine lightly salted and roasted. I’m working toward raw but for now, these are fine.
2. Two whole-wheat crackers (both together shouldn’t be bigger than the screen on your smart phone). Check the ingredients. The first MUST be whole wheat, not wheat. If you’re gluten-free, watch the carb count. It shouldn’t be over 10 grams per cracker. Add 3 tablespoons of cottage cheese (low-fat if you’re brave). Yearn for something sweet? Spice up the cottage cheese with naturally sweet cinnamon, nutmeg or crushed coriander seed to taste. You can also add 1/2 teaspoon reduced sugar jam…Trader Joe’s has a good raspberry one. Remember, you want a hint of flavor here…don’t overdo it.
If you’re like me, and crave the savory snack, add Mrs. Dash flakes, fresh ground pepper, or teaspoon of teriyaki sauce. I keep Boursin cheese in the fridge – one tablespoon of that whipped with two tablespoons of cottage cheese and I’m a happy, muchin’ camper. Don’t use onion or garlic powder, as they often have a funny aftertaste in uncooked foods.
Prepare both the sweet and savory spreads in advance, keep them in labeled containers in the fridge for immediate use.
3. Celery stalks. Yeah, I know…ick. But think of celery as a medium. You can use it to carry the filling to your mouth. A filling that has both fat and protein in it. And crunch…is there anything with more crunch than celery? Crunch, plus protein, plus fat…flavorful, fun and filling. As for fillings: Boursin whipped cream cheese (veggie is great for this). Plain cream cheese (diet if you’re brave). Almond butter, sunflower butter or peanut butter. Keep a couple of these on hand to mix it up from snack to snack. Hummus is good…read the carbs before you eat – some ready-made hummus is loaded with things you don’t want in your body, let alone in your mouth. Two teaspoons per rib of celery.
Keep fresh celery in a crisper drawer at all times. It’s fast – pull of a rib, rinse rib, rib is ready. Break off the larger end and pull the strands down if you like, but remember, fiber is good for you. Chew well.
4. A small apple. I pick up a bag of “lunch size” organic red apples and keep it next to the celery in the crisper drawer. Yes, apples have sugar but they also have a lot of fiber. Take the time to cut it up and enjoy it piece by piece. Use a tablespoon of nut butter to make it, the snack and the full feeling, last longer.
5. Fresh grapefruit. Low in carbs, long in flavor. Check with your doctor to make certain grapefruit won’t mess with your meds. Instead of cutting it in half, peel it, and eat it, like an orange. Take time to enjoy your snack.
6. Roasted chicken, cut up. Cook your own, (drop me a comment if you want the world’s best recipe for roasted chicken) or buy one store-bought. Keep it on hand for fast protein, without having to add anything. Cut into small bites so you won’t be tempted to eat the whole thing in one sitting. A great option is to take a leaf of buttercrunch lettuce (not iceberg), add a teaspoon of salsa, two small pieces of chicken, fold over, eat.
7. Red or orange bell peppers, cut into strips. They taste better than the green ones, and are a great carrier of hummus or cream cheese.
8. Some very dark chocolate bars have great flavor and few carbs. Lindt dark chocolate and toasted coconut bar has 15 grams carbs and 4 fiber carbs for a 4-piece serving. Buy the bar, wrap each piece separately, toss in the freezer. One piece has about 4 carbs and a serious flavor blast. It takes awhile for it to thaw, so while you’re eating a stalk of celery, you can watch the chocolate thaw. This is a good way to spend your time, no?
9. Sugar-free gum. Look for the intense flavors. Most have sugar alcohols, but in small enough amounts so they won’t bother you. Gum sweetened with xylitol reduces plaque at the same time.
10. Yogurt. It has to be unsweetened, but it can be turned into a great snack. Yogurt is the universal base for dips. Four ounces is a serving. Mix half-and-half with hummus and serve with celery or pepper slices. Add a teaspoon of teriyaki sauce (the sauce itself, not the sugar glaze), pesto or salsa for taste. Want it sweet? Add half a teaspoon of reduced-sugar jam and a tablespoon of finely chopped nuts and you’re good to go.
Remember, keep your snacks on hand and ready to go so it will be there for you. Here are eight more from the American Diabetic Association.
Kent McDonald is a Certified Personal Chef, living and working in Phoenix, AZ. (c) All Rights Reserved, 2013.