How to stay on track with your snacks?

It’s been a while since I’ve made an appearance. I had big plans since March was Nutrition Month and then life got in the way and other things took precedence. It seemed for a while like nothing was going to work the way it should and bad things seemed to multiply themselves like rabbits. During those days making pretty looking dishes did not seem like such a priority. But it’s back to normal (or so I hope) so here I am continuing the focus on Healthy, Nutritious and Delicious meals… because so what March is over! We can just as easily make the Year 2015 Nutrition Year instead of focusing on a particular month. For that matter, why not turn this into a constant. After all, just like dieting, concentrating on a particular issue for a limited amount of time will never give us the results we so desire. So what that March is over?! Does it mean we can go back to our old routine of eating unhealthy foods? No, April is not any different, and May and June and July…  You get the point, I think. 

So, I’d like to tackle snacks today. Main meals seem like such a no brainer when it comes to making them healthy. Pick lean meats, complex carbohydrates (or skip them if you are trying to lose a lot of weight) and green leafy veggies followed by healthy fats and you are right on point. Skip all prepared frozen dinners and cook your food yourself. Now, you might still go astray by cooking them yourself if you pick the wrong ingredients, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.

With snacking it’s a different kind of struggle. There is so much misinformation out there that no wonder we get confused. I still highly advocate not buying into hype and advertising of 100 calorie snacks, for example. It’s pure garbage and you will never feel satisfied by those little packages of sugar, you will not stop at one. What I highly recommend doing is making sure you know what you’re eating and how much of it you’re eating. What I mean by that is make it yourself and make sure you know the macronutrient composition of your snacks. You need to learn how to use a simple calorie tracker and put your recipes into your tracker to know exactly how much you’re eating. Why is this important? Because we tend to snack even when we are not hungry. We tend to reach into a bag of *fill in the blank* without even thinking about it. It’s like a nervous tick – a habit that we don’t think about executing – we just do it. And before you know it the bag of chips/ cookies/ pretzels is gone. And if you look at the nutritional value of what you ate you’d be astounded by the amount of “food” you just ate. But, we don’t go back to see and therefore we never know how much we are eating. So how about making something yourself and knowing upfront how much you’re eating? And by “how much” I don’t only mean in terms of size. I mean in terms of macronutrient value.

There is a huge array of different tracking apps and they really are not that difficult to use. Once you input your foods and recipes once, it’s just a matter of adding your daily foods to make sure you don’t overdo it. Once you learn how much food you’re eating to meet your goals you can eventually ditch the app, because you’ll instinctively know how much is enough. I highly recommend MyFitnessPal to start with. There is an iPhone and Android version out there.

So in the spirit of trying out your first snack recipe here is one of my most favourite ones. I call it Red Velvet Fluff Ice-cream.       

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RED VELVET FLUFF ICE-CREAM

Ingredients:

Macros per 200g: 150 cal, F-0g, P-21g, C-15g 
(the recipe makes 7.5 servings of 200g)

Directions:

  1. Put your quark and cottage cheese in a large food processor and blend on high until you get a very smooth mixture. This will allow the cheeses to blend easy and won’t strain the motor of your food processor as much as it would if you added the dry ingredients at the same time.
  2. Once your mixture is nice and smooth like ice-cream add the rest of the ingredients and blend together.
  3. Refrigerate before serving. This will make the mixture even thicker.
  4. If you want the snack to have an icy feel to it like ice-cream, you can put your serving into a freezer before eating. I don’t recommend freezing the whole batch, though. That would make it quite difficult to serve. Just keep the full batch in the refrigerator and only put your individual servings 20-30 minutes before eating into the freezer if you wish. 
  5. Topping of choice: nuts, chia seeds, chocolate chips. I like a rice cake for scooping it out. But you can put anything you like, making sure to include the macros for your toppings into your calorie tracking app. 

NOTE 1:  Cottage cheese has a bad reputation of being a bland health food, but this is not an ordinary cottage cheese! All the moisture of a traditional cottage cheese has been removed and it also doesn’t have the saltiness that regular cottage cheese seems to have. To me it tastes more like cream cheese than cottage cheese. In fact, back home we used to make cheesecake using this type of cream cheese!  Addition of this product in this recipe allows for incredible thickness.

NOTE 2: Quark is simply an amazing product! To me it’s a cross between cream cheese and greek yogurt without the unnecessary stuff from cream cheese that makes it so naughty. It’s fat free and very smooth in its consistency. However, good luck finding it in St. John’s, Newfoundland, though. It is currently available in select Dominion and Elizabeth Ave Sobey’s 🙂

NOTE 3: For this recipe I like to use casein protein powder because it’s very thick. I only add 1 IMG_20150403_120757~2scoop, but you could add more. However make sure that you are not overdoing it, because unless you are trying to build muscle mass by working with weights, you might not want to consume too much protein. I use ON Gold Standard French Vanilla Casein.

NOTE 4: This little flask will last you a very long time if used properly. This recipe yields 15 100g servings so about 10 drops will do. For most recipes you only need a few drops. Most stevia products out there are packed with unnecessary fillers, I find this stevia is perfect just the way it is and doesn’t have any aftertaste and it comes in all sorts of flavourings. My next one to try is English Toffee. I have been using Cinnamon, but can’t say I was able to discern the cinnamon too much.