As frugal a grocery shopper as I like to be, I admit I still suffer from “my kid doesn’t have enough snacks!” anxiety despite knowing he has plenty. I’m sure I’m not the only one that can go overboard with making sure family members are extremely well-stocked in the snack department. And as for making sure we have enough snacks for road trips and days out at the waterpark or amusement park, my backpack looks like I’m preparing for a natural disaster, though we barely wind up needing half. Seriously, what’s up with that? I think it’s just our nature as parents to nurture and make sure our loved ones are well-fed and taken care of. But here’s the tricky part: during all of this attention to detail, do we sometimes forget about our own snacking and food needs? I love my meals, but when it comes to snacking, I used to never have anything for myself. And, at least in my house, when mama’s hungry, mama’s not happy.
I’ve learned over time that worrying about my in-between meal snacking is essential, and I plan for this while making my grocery list and shopping. Then, I’m cared for as much as my family members. Since health is a top priority, I stock up on nutritious options so I’m not standing in front of the pantry eating Cool Ranch Doritos out of the bag to hold me over until dinner. If this sometimes-inevitable mom struggle sounds familiar, here are my go-to nutritious and effortless snacks. They’ll fill you up while you’re on the go and accommodate your self care and health goals!
Pistachios are my absolute favorite nut to eat, and I could seriously eat a pound at a time if I didn’t control myself! All nuts provide loads of healthy benefits, including tons of fiber, health-friendly fatty acids which keep your cholesterol levels in check and essential minerals. Nutrition and medical experts recommend having a handful of nuts daily. I love the way nuts fill me up, mostly due to their great combination of fiber and protein. They satiate hunger and hold me over until mealtime. While all nuts are good for you, what I love most about pistachios is they are lower in calories than other types of nuts, yet high in protein. They are also a rich source of potassium and vitamin B6. And simply, they are absolutely delicious and mild enough to snack on with ease!
Eggs are a great source of protein and are low in calories. Hard boiled is a fabulous option since you can cook a ton in advance, and they last a long time in the fridge for easy snacking. I boil a bunch of eggs for the week ahead, and then my husband and I gobble them as-is, in salads, or for a quick breakfast before work or the gym. They are an easy addition to the “protein pack” Bento lunch I often prepare for my husband with almonds, grapes, carrot sticks, cheese and granola. Despite what was reported years ago, eggs are actually good for your cholesterol. They provide good monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats to your diet.
Hummus and Pita Chips
I adore roasted garlic hummus and seasoned pita chips for an afternoon snack. Any type of hummus is an excellent alternative to fattier dairy-based dips and spreads because chick peas (or whichever type of bean your favorite hummus uses) provides tons of fiber and protein. Chick peas are also very high in folate, which is great for expectant moms, and it may have cancer-fighting abilities.
Who says veggies are only for lunch and dinner? I eat sweet potatoes as snacks regularly—they are my favorite veggie! Fortunately, they are super healthy. High in fiber, potassium and beta carotene, sweet potatoes are super easy to prepare. I poke a few holes in one with a fork and microwave until tender. Since they are low in calories and fat, adding a dollop of butter won’t make you feel too guilty, either!
String Cheese Sticks
OK, so these are usually a kid-friendly purchase at the grocery store, but I have my fair share of low-fat string cheese to hold me over between meals too! And I don’t feel guilty about it at all since a little bit of cheese is healthy for those of us consuming dairy products! If you stick with skim-milk-based choices, string cheese is a great source of protein and calcium (which we ladies need to make sure we’re getting enough of as we age), as well as a host of other important vitamins and minerals. It’s also excellent for on-the-go snacking, picnicking, and when you just don’t have time for much else!
A glass of milk with a squirt of chocolate syrup is OK! It’s one of my favorite snacks post-workout, and experts agree milk is a great way to promote recovery after exercise. Not only does milk provide calcium needed for healthy bones, but it’s a great source of protein, which is essential for the muscle growth and repair that occurs after a strenuous workout and strength training. You can reap the nutritional benefits without the calories and fat by sticking with low-fat milk. Personally, I find that this type of protein intake fills me up and keeps me satiated for quite some time, making it an ideal snack!
Remember, when you’re not taking care of yourself, it’s hard to take care of others. If we go too long without eating, the result can be unhealthy binge eating, poor food choices, too much sugar and empty calories and unnecessary money spent. As busy moms, it’s more important than ever to take the time to plan for our own meals and snacks so we are fueled properly to take on the challenges of motherhood and everyday life in a healthy and happy way!