When lunch feels like a distant memory and the temptation to head towards the office lolly bowl is at an all-time high, a healthy snack or 'mini-meal' will tide you over until dinner time. These healthy snack options are perfect for when the low energy lull hits!
You've started the day full of beans and are raring to go, but then you find yourself rummaging around in your bag for a mid-afternoon snack, as a wave of sleepiness descends upon you and the afternoon drag sets in. Sound familiar?
Perhaps you work from home and you’ve caught yourself inspecting the back corner of every shelf in the pantry, searching for something to fill the gap and alleviate a potential 3pm energy slump?
If you find yourself slouched over your desk and your energy is lagging, the best way to boost your concentration levels and increase your 'get-up-and-go' is by popping a protein-rich snack.
Healthy nibbles and 'mini-meals'
For those of you who wake up early and work full-time, healthy nibbles are essential to ensure you can productively get through your working week and remain energised and alert.
‘Mini-meals’ also help you navigate away from the vending machine down the hall or the quick nip out to pick up a packaged snack from the local convenience store.
Many of these quick sugary fixes give you nothing in return and can end up making you feel worse.
Benefits of protein-rich snacks
A November 2011 study, from the University of Cambridge in England found that glucose (sugar) blocks certain neurons that keep you awake, but the amino acids in protein prevent that from happening. Protein also helps you to feel fuller longer and can prevent from further snacking.
On the flipside, reaching for sugary snacks will peak your energy levels quickly but then when they come crashing down, you’ll be left feeling even more sluggish than you did before.
Nutrient dense, protein-rich snacks will provide the fuel for your brain to be able to complete your job, and you’ll notice a big difference to your concentration levels.
Preparing healthy snacks doesn’t have to be time-consuming or difficult. The key is to prepare them over the weekend and have bulk snacks to set up for an entire week. You’ll only need an hour to get this done and it can be a very therapeutic and creative process.
Healthy snack options
Firstly think about the kind of snacks you like to nibble on. Trail mixes, muesli slices and bars, nut butter biscuits and energy balls are great for the cutting out sugar cravings and improving your vitality. They can also all be frozen or kept in a seal-tight container in the fridge to keep them fresh.
If you’re a lover of savoury snacks, try cutting up a big batch of carrot, cucumber and celery sticks for the week ahead with a different side or dip to keep the variety going. One day it could be mashed avocado, the next try almond butter.
One of my go-to snacks is a relatively new creation called ‘Seanuts’. My love of sardines led me to experiment with them as a snack food because of their abundance of good fats and calcium. Then to make them interesting I added almonds, garlic and fresh lime, and the result was out of this world. Once baked in the oven, you’ll receive a devilishly salty hit coupled with a burst of citrusy tang from the lime, plus they’ll provide you with much needed energy to power through the last few hours of your working day.
If you work in a closed office and find yourself being put off by the thought of roasted fish smells wafting through the cubicles, to alleviate glares from your colleagues and a flush of embarrassment, then my Tamari Nibble Mix will be your saviour. This recipe can be whipped up quickly and stored in an airtight container for weeks, allowing you to prepare a big batch and work your way through it at your own pace.
Here are two wonderfully healthy snack options to have on hand to tide you over when the low energy lull hits. I hope that you will include them into your working day and use them as recharging pick-me-ups. Let me know how you like them!
Seanuts (serves 4)
2 cups almonds (can be pre-soaked)
2 x 45gm cans chopped sardines
8 garlic cloves peeled and sliced
2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
2 TBS lime zest
1 tsp. Celtic Sea Salt
6 drops liquid stevia
Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius.
Place all ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine.
Spread on a baking sheet and sprinkle with lime zest.
Place in the oven, for 25 minutes, stirring halfway through.
Remove from oven and place in bowl and sprinkle with additional lime zest if needed.
Tamari Nibble Mix (serves 4)
Tired of reaching into your handbag and finding the same old ho-hum snack? Here’s a quick fix recipe to help you mix things up a little. It’s full of good fats and B vitamins so your body and mind will love it too.
160 g (51/2 oz/1 cup) almonds
155 g (51/2 oz/1 cup) raw cashew nuts
75 g (21/2 oz/1/2 cup) pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
75 g (21/2 oz/1/2 cup) sunflower seeds
3 tablespoons wheat-free tamari
90 g (31/4 oz) additive-free brown rice crackers, broken into bite-sized pieces
Preheat the oven to 160°C (315°F/gas 2–3) and line a baking tray with baking paper.
Place the nuts and seeds in a bowl and mix to combine. Pour over the tamari, and mix so the seeds are well coated. Transfer to the baking tray and cook in the oven for 25 minutes.
Remove from the oven and cool. Add the rice crackers before serving. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks until ready to bag.
Images from Eat Yourself Beautiful by Lee Holmes (Murdoch Books) $35.