When you work long hours and try to simultaneously maintain a consistent workout regime, eat healthy and get enough sleep, doing your grocery shopping on weekends can be a serious life saver. Many people plan their meals for the week and write their grocery lists accordingly, which is an especially great strategy if you’re cooking for a family, interested in making sure no food goes to waste and/or sticking to a budget.
I tend to be a bit more lackadaisical when it comes to grocery shopping for a couple of reasons: (1) I’m only cooking for myself so I have more flexibility with my meals, which means that if I want to eat nothing but sugar snap peas and jalapeno hummus for “dinner” no one can say anything! 🙂 (2) I try to eat seasonally as much as I can so I like to see what’s available in stores/at the Farmer’s Market before deciding what to eat. (3) I get a CSA basket every other week so I have to factor in its arrival when I consider what I’ll need for a given week. (4) Finally, I only spend every other weekend in San Francisco since I spend the other half in Sacramento with my boyfriend, and obviously if I’m coming back on the train at 7pm on a Sunday there’s no hope of grocery shopping.
In all of the situations above its great to have some basic staples and emergency items in your pantry. Just in case.
I like dipping.
Hummus is a non-negotiable staple in my life and I usually have a couple store-bought varieties on hand at any given time. I also like to get sprouted garbanzo beans at the Farmer’s Market to make my own hummus, though I that I must warn you, sprouted hummus has a very distinct flavor. I’ll also dip virtually anything (including a spoon and/or my finger) into nut butter, so I usually keep a jar or two of sunflower seed butter in my pantry (and under my desk) as well as cashew butter.
Healthy raw or dried snacks and canned goods that can easily be added to/used as the base of a meal are also good to keep around.
No matter how healthy our daily food choices are, there will always be things that we can’t bring ourselves to say “no” to. For many people I know the treats they can’t deny themselves revolve around sugar, they crave chocolate, candy or sweets. For me its salty all the way, if you put potato chips or French fries in front of me you better watch your fingers!
One of the biggest issues with giving in to your cravings is the landslide effect. After one piece or one handful you think “why not have a little more?” and before you know it you’ve consumed 5 servings. From there it’s incredibly easy to just write the day off and indulge all of your cravings.
We’ve all done this. Some of us more than others (read: me).
When I read magazine articles or surf online on the topics of eating and snacking, experts always tout the moderation method. Buying 100 calorie snack packs or having “just one” piece of dark chocolate etc. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been satisfied by small processed snacks masquerading as healthy food and I’ve certainly never consumed just one piece of anything.
I want my snacks to be satisfying and filling, and I want them to provide my body with real nutrients. My solution? Fake it! I’ve come up with alternatives to my favorite crave-worthy snacks. Some are portable and easy to keep at the office or in your bag/car, while others I save for weekends or when I have a full kitchen at my mercy.
Tote-able salty/savory snacks: Mixed nuts, trail mix, Raw Revolution bars (Spirulina & cashew), veggies or crackers w/ mini Sabra hummus tubs
Quick, but cooked salty/savory snacks
- Mini Pizzas: Buy pre-made polenta logs (or make your own if you’re feeling like a rock star), slice into thin pieces, bake for 10 minutes at 350 on each side, add some cheese and a tomato slice or salsa & broil for 3 minutes. Voila! Delicious mini pizzas with a fraction of the fat and calories of a slice of pizza. And depending on the brand of polenta that you use these can easily be made vegan and gluten-free, just use soy cheese or daiya.
- Wraps: Tortilla + spread + toppings. Easy peasy. (These are a great alternative to sandwiches and can be easily made gluten-free with the use of brown rice tortillas.) First start with your favorite tortilla, good options to try are whole wheat, spinach or sprouted brands, or lettuce, collard greens or kale. Second, add a spread of some sort, I prefer hummus or “cheese” sauce, but you could easily use marinara, curry, creamy salad dressing, nut cheese etc. Finally, add whatever toppings you’re in the mood for. I like a little crunch so raw veggies are my go-to, but you could add cheese, roasted or sautéed veggies, quinoa, rice… The list goes on! If you’re interested in trying a delicious raw wrap, here’s an excellent recipe from Gena at Choosing Raw – Zucchini Wraps.
- Quesadilla: Tortilla + toppings. Couldn’t be easier! Pile on anything that sounds yummy, from the traditional to the inventive: cheese, rice, beans, meat or sliced seitan/tofu, crumbled tempeh, sautéed veggies, cubed roasted veggies… So many choices, so few tortillas!
Tote-able sweet snacks: Homemade trail mix with carob/chocolate chips or granola, dried fruit, Larabars (coconut!), apples w/ nut butter
Quick, but “cooked” sweet snacks:
- Chia Seed Pudding: The consistency is similar to tapioca, but this pudding will really stay with you. For hours. Great for a mid-morning snack or a pre-workout pick-me-up. Mix 3/4 cup of raw chia seeds with 2 cups of liquid (almond milk, coconut water, water…) and allow to sit for roughly 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. The natural flavor of chia seeds isn’t potent so you can add any flavors you’re craving. My favorite recipes are: (1) Mix in nut butter (I’m loving sunflower seed butter right now) and cinnamon to taste and top with a sliced banana. So. Good. (2) Add Stevia or agave nectar and lemon juice to taste. This is tangy and refreshing, and quite similar to the way the Tarahumara consumed their chia seeds.
- Smoothies: See Smoothie Love for some ideas of smoothies you can make.
- Soft Serve: A lot of vegan/raw recipes for soft serve and pudding treats rely on avocados for their creamy texture. Unfortunately I’m not a fan of avocados, so when I’m looking to up the creaminess of a dessert, I reach for bananas. 2 frozen bananas + blender. Done. This is seriously quick and seriously delicious, you can even top with chocolate sauce! However, if you’d like to try an avocado-based pudding, please take a look at this recipe to give you a starting point.
So tell me, what is the snack that you just cannot say no to? Take my lead and try to make a healthy, whole food version to satisfy those cravings and let me know what you come up with!