Nibbles and Noshes

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Living in Europe for many years I never thought about snacks. It wasn’t until I came back to the States that I realized that everyone was snacking all the time! Wow - even as a kid I only got an after-school snack and that was usually a piece of fruit. What’s going on?

Europeans don’t snack because they eat meals. In Europe the pace is slower. Life is more about living than doing. People go home for lunch. I can’t even begin to imagine that happening here in the US. We grab something to go and sit at our desk and eat as we work. It’s sort of crazy not to mention unhealthy.

The problem is that we hardly eat meals anymore. The average American gets 1/4 of her total calories from snacks. Since snacks make up such a large percentage of total calories, snacks have a big impact on your health. Sugary snacks and junk food can give you a quick burst of energy but then you crash. These snacks can also cause you to gain weight. If you’re going to snack, chose wisely.

Pregnant women and new moms need to snack even if they are eating meals. Like children they need to snack between meals (not instead of meals) because they need the continual supply of energy throughout the day. Pregnant women need this because they’re making a human. New moms need snacks in order to rebuild after birth and to keep their milk supply and energy up.

If you’re pregnant and suffering from morning sickness, snacking instead of eating several large meals can be helpful. In general, when you’re expecting the number of calories your body requires increases in the 2nd and 3rd trimester. The average person needs 2000 calories daily. Of course, this varies by body type. During both the 2nd and 3rd trimester you should increase your calories by 200 per so that at the end of your pregnancy your are eating about 2400 calories. You can get these extra calories from snacks as long as they are healthy snacks.

If you have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, it’s important that you have snacks between meals to keep your blood sugar levels from spiking. And it’s super important that you chose those snacks wisely. Snacking on foods that contain protein and fat instead of carbs is recommended. If you have carbs make sure that you have some protein and fat with them. If you need help with this, check out my prenatal nutrition program for gestational diabetes.

Can your snack choices be better? Opting for high fiber snacks will keep you full until your next meal. Carrot sticks with hummus or an apple with nut butter are good choices. Hard boiled eggs are also good, and they are portable as are nuts and dark chocolate. I suggest always having a healthy snack in your bag or at your desk. This way you’re prepared when you feel the need to nibble. I happen to love energy bites. There are lots of ways to make them. They are super easy and don’t need to be baked. I’m sharing one of my favorite recipes below.

I hope this was helpful. Let me know if what some of your challenges with snacks are in the comments below. Also, if you’d like to work with me on your nutritional challenges I offer one on one phone consultations. Now here’s the recipe….

Chocolate Almond Energy Bites

1/4 cup dark chocolate pulsed in a food processor until finely ground,

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

1/2 cup raw almonds

1/2 raw pumpkin seeds

1 1/2 cups pitted dates

1/4 cup chia seeds

1/2 cup almond butter

1 teaspoon ground ginger

In a food processor pulse the coconut, almonds and pumpkin seeds until coarsely chopped. Set aside.

Pulse the dates until finely chopped. Add the chia seeds. With the processor running add a 1/4 cup of very hot water. Mix until you have a paste. Add the almond butter and ginger and process until smooth. Then add the coconut mixture and pulse until just combined.

Scoop out 1 tablespoon of the mixture and form into a ball. Roll it in the chocolate. Transfer to a baking sheet and refrigerate for an hour. Enjoy. (These can but frozen for 3 months but they’ll never last that long.)