Archive | March, 2012

Smart Snacking

20 Mar

Like most people I love to snack, but I often take it to a whole new level when I go days without sitting down for a real lunch or dinner and simply supplement my diet with mini-meals here and there. While they say many small meals a day can be good for you, it’s only “good for you” is your snacks are healthy and balanced. I often find myself drawn to chips, chocolate and anything that has to do with cheese, but there are in fact some ways you can confuse your taste buds by satisfying your cravings with some simple smart snacking tricks.

Snack Trick #1: Add Healthy Filler to Your Dips

Veggies and dip. It sounds healthy enough right? But so many dips are high in calories and low in nutrients. Basically anything made with full fat sour cream or cream cheese is in the danger zone, so many people recommend using low or no fat alternatives, or simply subbing in humus for your otherwise unhealthy carrot coater. Another suggestion I stumbled on recently was a way to cut calories when making guacamole. I LOVE guacamole. I could literally eat it with anything, and while I don’t think avocados are really all that bad for you, if you’re eating tubs of it at a time you’re definitely getting up there in your calorie count. One trick for this decadent dip is to supplement about half of the avocado filler with white kidney beans. It doesn’t taste exactly the same, but it’s equally as delicious. A healthy dose of lime and cilantro offers a similar taste sensation, and the kidney beans provide added protein with less fat.

Guilt-Free Guacamole with White Kidney Beans

Guilt-Free Guacamole Recipe:


  • 1 can white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tbsp lime juice (or to taste)
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped sweet onion
  • Salt
  • 1 ripe avocado, halved and pitted
  • 2 plum tomatoes


  • In a food processor with the knife blade attached, puree beans and 1 tbsp lime juice until smooth, and then transfer the mixture to a medium bowl.
  • In the same processor, place cilantro, onion, and 1/2 tsp of salt and pulse until it’s juicy and thick.
  • With a spoon, scoop the avocado from its peel into the bowl with the beans. Mash them together with a fork until the mixture is blended, with some chunks remaining.
  • Cut each tomato crosswise in half. Squeeze halves to remove seeds and juice.
  • Coarsely chop tomatoes and stir the tomato and onion mixture into the avocado mixture until its blended. At this point you can stir in any additional lime juice to taste.

Snack Trick #2: Pick Smart Chips

While veggies such as carrots, celery, and cucumbers are supposed to quench that crunchy craving, sometimes they just don’t cut it. So if you really want to burn through a bag of chips, I suggest choosing a variety that offers maximum nutrition with minimal caloric content. Two of my favourites are Terra Chips and Riceworks. Terra Chips are made up of an assortment of vegetables including taro, sweet potato, yucca, batata, parsnip, and ruby taro, which are baked and of course packed with more nutrients than you’d find in regular potato chips. Rice Thins on the other hand may not have such a wide array of nutritional variation but the fact that they’re made with whole grain brown rice offers added nutritional benefits including higher fibre than white rice, corn chips or once again, regular potato chips.  Both of these options are preservative free, celiac friendly, and contain less fat than standard potato chips, and in my opinion are just a lot more satisfying so you can be happier with less.

Terra and Riceworks Chips

Another crunchy snack recommended by many dieticians is low fat popcorn. Now I get it – sometimes the low fat version just doesn’t hit a home run with the taste factor. So if you want to add a little kick to your popcorn without dousing it in butter and salt, try a small spoonful of olive oil combined with a mix of summer savoury herbs and a modest sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.  These easy-to-add ingredients pack a lot of flavour so you don’t need very much and thus save on fat and sodium content. It’s also just fancier which is always fun 🙂

Herb and Parmesan Low-Fat Popcorn

Snack Tip # 3: Chocolate CAN Stay

I hate anyone who says that you have to cut chocolate out of your diet to be healthy. As long as it doesn’t cause serious health risks due to some allergy, I say keep this glorious treat! The only thing I would suggest is sticking to better quality varieties, and eating only 1 to 3 pieces at a sitting, slowly sucking on the chocolate letting it melt so that you can experience the full flavour and enjoyment out of each little bite.

For good quality, satisfying varieties try these:

Bonnat Chocolatier‘s Java 65% dark milk chocolate made with Indonesian milk with hints of tobacco and caramel.

Patric’s Moka OMG for a smooth blend of rich dark chocolate and craft-roasted espresso 700 coffee beans from the award-winning artisan coffee roaster Kaldi’s.

Republica del Cacao’s Arriba Galapagos Islands Chocolate Bar with Coffee Nibs for a crunchy kick that’s as ethical as it is delicious.

Madecasse‘s Bean to Bar in Madagascar pink pepper and citrus for a different sort of chocolaty experience.

Askinosie‘s dark chocolate and malted milk “CollaBARation” with Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream.

Or another great way to enjoy chocolate as a dessert is to combine it with fruit. While some people shun many fruits as being too high in sugar, I personally feel that fruit is one of the best things to snack on. Firstly it’s delicious. AND furthermore most fruits are loaded with vitamins and minerals that can’t be found in many other foods. In addition to this, many fruits have high water content, and maintaining hydration is actually a key aspect of cutting down snack cravings. Finally adding extra fibre to your diet is never a bad idea, so I say let them eat fruit!

I like dipping fruit in chocolate, and an easy sweet snack is to add a spin on chocolate covered strawberries by substituting the normal baking chocolate with Toblerone. The crunchy nougat adds a little something extra and you may even find yourself being more satisfied with just a few bites due to the richness of the chocolaty tip.

In the end though, there’s no one way to eat, diet, snack, indulge, whatever your relationship with food may be. Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that it is in fact a relationship whereby you should maintain an open and honest conversation with your body as you figure out what’s right for you, what makes you happy and what satisfies your cravings.

So what’s my number one advice for snacking? Don’t deprive yourself, just snack smart.