Recently I’ve noticed that the mid-day meal often gets replaced with several snacks for many people. A busy workday or a day full of classes and studying can make it difficult to sit down and enjoy a full lunch meal because you may be eating at your desk or have limited time. Skipping lunch is a bad idea, so how can you make the most out of your snack choices to replace a single full meal during the daytime, or how can you make the wisest snack choices when lunch isn’t keeping you full until dinner?
Having snacks that provide a mix of protein, carbs, and fats will keep you better satiated than having a snack consisting of just carbs. For me, eating an apple only makes me more hungry for another apple an hour later. I like to eat fruit with a tablespoon or two of almond or cashew butter, which provides satisfying, healthy fat and a little protein as well. Another filling snack idea is whole grain crackers with hummus and a hard-boiled egg. If you’re craving a sweet crunch, try mixing your favorite trail mix with a cup of whole-grain cereal.
Here are some other snack ideas (and keep in mind, all it takes is a little tupperware to transport your goodies to your desk or backpack for mid-day munching)
- For a sweet treat, try 6 oz. low-fat Greek yogurt with 1 cup of whole grain cereal and 2 tbsp. of dark chocolate chips
- If savory is more your style, prepare garlic kale chips the night before. To prepare, preheat the oven to 275 degrees F, wash, drain, and cut kale into smaller servings. Use a non-stick spray and give both the pan and the kale a light spray. Top with copious garlic powder, and a little salt and pepper. Heat for about 25-35 minutes, flipping the “chips” half way through and adding more garlic powder to the opposite side. Garlic-y kale chips taste great with roasted, salted almonds, which provide some protein also.
- You can’t go wrong with a raw veggies and hummus, add an egg or a serving of soy nuts for a great protein fix.
- Feeling spicy? Try whole grain or blue corn tortilla chips and pack 2 tbsp. guacamole (or avocado slices) along with 2 tbsp. spicy salsa in a small container. You can even make your own guacamole, and add some protein with it by blending with a little Greek yogurt (if you haven’t already noticed, I’m a big fan of all things Greek yogurt).
- If you’re on the run and your options are found in a convenience store, look for a healthy protein bar, such as Luna, Clif, or Larabar. (The less ingredients listed on the package, the better). Add a 5 or 6 oz. container of yogurt, typically available at most convenience stores.
- Once again, if your choices are limited and you find yourself in a place with less than healthy options for snacking, go for a small package of whole grain pretzels or popcorn and mix with trail mix for a crunchy, salty, complete snack.
- Rice cakes, although they have a bad reputation for being bland, make a good base for a protein fix. I like to top mine with cottage cheese, almond butter, and chocolate chips—although for me, I’ve only had this as a late night study snack, feel free to give it a try if you can transport all the fixings to wherever you may be.
These are just some ideas on how to get complete nutrition during a busy day. If you know you don’t usually eat a big meal for lunch, having one or two of these snacks will prevent you from being ravenous by the time dinner rolls around.