Nutritionist and Dietician, Bethany Boynton, provides fast and nutritious snacks to curb cravings and support a healthy diet.
Today people are so busy with work and life that it’s easy to forgo taking the time to eat healthy. We’re always on the go whether it is for our children or for our full-time seven days a week career. I’m sure if you haven’t already used an excuse to run through a drive-thru or pick up an unhealthy snack or meal to eat on the go during a busy day you’ve at least thought about it. Many believe the practice of healthy eating and snacking is difficult because of the time it takes to prepare meals; however, healthy eating and snacking can be much easier than most people think. As there are now easy and quick pre-portioned items we can all purchase at the grocery store and healthier “fast food” restaurants popping up around us, planning and preparing meals doesn’t have to consume much time. Take a look at the categories below for healthy eating and snacking ideas to reference the next time you lack time but not a healthy appetite.
My go to for a healthy fast -food type option when I know I will not have time to cook is often Pita Pit or Extreme Pita. They have pamphlets providing information on the pita sandwiches that are lowest in fat if you need some guidance, which I suggest using at any fast food restaurant because as the saying goes “looks can be deceiving.” The pitas can be stuffed with a lean protein and tons of fresh vegetables or just the vegetables themselves. Try these two variations: a wheat Pita with Babaganoush hummus as the main ingredient with alfalfa sprouts, cucumber, green pepper, romaine lettuce, mushrooms, onions, spinach and tomatoes or a white pita with chicken breast, cucumber, green pepper, romaine lettuce, onion, tomatoes and swiss cheese. Try to keep away from the sauces because they contain high calories, are high in sodium and one pita can contain much more than one serving. When these fast food restaurants aren’t an option, opt for a salad with minimal or no dressing or make your own dressing and keep it on hand at home or in your fridge at work.
When it comes to healthy snacking there are some very easy and convenient options throughout our grocery stores. They now have pre-portioned hummus packets that you can use to dip pita and raw vegetables into; for example – endive, carrots, celery, cucumber and broccoli. You can also dip any of these items into plain Greek yogurt, which has a higher protein content than most other yogurt options. Fresh fruit bowls are always a healthy option for a snack, but keep in mind fruit is high in natural sugars, so maintain a balance between fruit and vegetables throughout the day. Try tossing fruit, a little honey and some fresh lemon juice into your Greek yogurt to make it more interesting.
If you’re looking for homemade options, there are many easy variations that can be created in almost no time at all. Salads are simple to throw together if you have lettuce, vegetables and some protein If you include a protein like poultry, beef or legumes, as well as a grain, a salad can contain all sources that will give you enough energy to get through your day. Try a salad with an array of mixed greens, vegetables, tuna and quinoa or arugula and chickpeas. Either one of these varieties tossed in a light balsamic dressing or olive oil and vinegar are healthy and complete sources of energy. Chicken salads filled with apples, celery, carrots, raisins and anything else you enjoy is also a great choice with a light mayonnaise dressing.
Remember, you do not have to take all day to prepare healthy food, you just need to know what to look for and balance it as well as you can. Take a couple hours each weekend to prepare some things for the week, for example muffins, granola bars, cook multiple sources of protein for the week, or chop up vegetables. Vegetables like carrots and celery can be cut up and placed in cold water in the fridge to keep them crisp and fresh for the week. Lettuce can be torn up and wrapped in damp paper towel and placed in a plastic bag to keep it fresh. Preparation and planning is key to keeping a consistently healthy diet – even if that means planning to improvise a couple of meals during the week by stopping at a healthier “fast food” restaurant.
Healthy eating shouldn’t be a job. Have fun with it, try different combinations of ingredients in salads and homemade granola bars. Food is fun, interesting and vibrant. Keep it fresh, crunchy, colourful and flavourful.