Dominate your health by keeping a stash of healthy and delicious ingredients on hand to make great snacks that will tide you over between meals.
Reduced fat ricotta cheese
Keep a tub of reduced fat ricotta cheese in the fridge at home or work for a creamy topping for sweet or savoury snacks. “It’s high in protein and has a low GI, which is good for sustaining your energy,” says accredited practising dietitian Kara Landau. “If you want something sweet, spread a couple of wholegrain crisp breads with reduced-fat ricotta, then sprinkle with sliced strawberries and cinnamon.” You can also spread it on wholemeal toast with chopped tomatoes and fresh basil leaves for a tasty, high-fibre bruschetta.
Keep a punnet of super sweet cherry tomatoes in the fridge for a fast, juicy snack. “They’re a good source of vitamin A to help form and maintain healthy skin, vision and immune function,” says accredited practising dietitian Shivaun Conn. “They’ve also got vitamin C for iron absorption and lycopene to reduce the risk of some cancers and heart disease.”
Grab a small handful of nuts while you’re on the go for a hit of fibre and protein. “Nuts are high in vitamin E, which is a powerful antioxidant,” says Lisa Renn, a leading dietitian. “They’ve also got magnesium, which is good for nerves and muscles; zinc for a strong immune system; and selenium to keep your thyroid gland working well.” Nuts are a brilliant snack because they are so versatile. “Eat them on their own, stir them through yoghurt or sprinkle them on cereal,” Renn suggests.
As the weather cools down, there’s no better mid-morning or afternoon snack than a mug of steaming vegetable soup. “It’s rich in antioxidants and fibre, which will help decrease your risk of heart disease and cancer,” says accredited practising dietitian Melanie McGrice. “It’s also low in kilojoules and will help you increase your vegetable intake for the day.”
Forget reaching for salty, fattening potato chips — half a cup of homemade roasted chickpeas will satisfy your savoury hunger and give you some fibre and protein. All you have to do is drain the can, scatter them over a tray sprayed with oil and bake at 220 degrees for 10 minutes. “Dust them with Cajun spices, paprika or garlic powder and serve,” Conn suggests. “Once they’ve cooled, you can package 30 gram serves into zip-lock bags or small snack containers to take with you for the day.”
Just a tablespoon of these tasty little seeds will boost your energy, help your heart health and keep you regular. “They’re rich in plant-based omega 3s and fibre and are a great alternative to high-GI desserts,” says accredited practising dietitian Dr Landau. “Sprinkle chia seeds onto a baked apple with some Greek yoghurt and cinnamon for a sweet treat.” You can also add them to everything from cereal, to soups to salads.
Reduced fat yoghurt
If you want to boost your bone health and help your digestion, then you can’t go past a tub of low-fat yoghurt. You’ll get a dose of calcium, protein, phosphorous, potassium and magnesium — and the serving options are endless. “Freeze yoghurt in icy-pole moulds then enjoy yoghurt ice pops on a hot day,” suggests accredited practising dietitian Jemma O’Hanlon. “You could also create a breakfast parfait in a glass with layers of yoghurt, berries and natural muesli, or add yoghurt to a smoothie to boost the protein and calcium content.”
Raw cacao powder
If you’ve got a chocolate hankering, a teaspoon of raw cacao powder in a glass of low fat milk will do the trick, while boosting your health. “It adds a lovely chocolatey flavour and will give you antioxidants,” O’Hanlon says. “If you’re looking for a caffeine boost, you could add an espresso shot to make it a mocha frappe or hot mocha.”
If you’re a peanut butter lover, why not mix things up with a different nut variety? Almond, cashews and macadamia nut butters all taste great and make a tasty topping for fruit, vegies and crackers. “They’re rich in healthy monounsaturated fats and help lower the GI of the snack you’re having,” Landau says. “Cut up an apple and scrape nut butter between two slices for a crunchy snack.” Just make sure you look for no added sugar and salt varieties.
Corn doesn’t have to be limited to side servings at dinner — microwave or barbecue a cob and sprinkle on some chilli powder, garlic or fresh basil. “Corn is filling and yummy and will give you a boost of vitamin C,” O’Hanlon says. “You can even create a salsa combining corn, avocado, red onion, tomato and fresh coriander, then season it with pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. It will bring a little bit of Mexico to your lunchbox.”
Written by Kimberly Gillan
Contributed by Shivaun Conn