Ask the Expert: 5 Tips for Smarter Snacking

Photo: ©2016 Claudia Totir/Getty Images

Let’s admit it, what we reach for when we find ourselves peckish — or worse, “hangry” — between meals may not always be the healthiest of choices.

We asked Andrea Falcone, a Toronto-based registered dietitian and fitness professional, for tips and recipes to help keep us on the straight and narrow.

1. Be prepared. 

Convenience options are available everywhere you turn. Pack along your favourite foods so that you are prepared when, and if, the hunger
strikes. Hard-boiled eggs are great to cook in a batch on the weekend and
leave in the refrigerator with the shell on until you’re ready to eat them.
They last about four to five days with a fresh taste. Pre-packaged cheese rounds are great to grab and go along with a fruit, or a snack pack of hummus with vegetables and crackers or fruit.

2. Choose snacks with protein and a complex carbohydrate.

Protein helps to satisfy us and keep us fuller longer, while complex carbohydrates will give your body a slow release of energy — not to mention a load of nutrients. Choose proteins such as nuts or seeds, nut butters, cottage cheese, yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, or hummus. Consider complex carbohydrates such as fresh fruit, whole-grain crackers or toast, homemade granola, or vegetables.

3. Batch cook your favourite snacks.

Making a double batch of whole-grain fruit and nut muffins that pack well and can store in the freezer is great as a midmorning or mid-afternoon snack. A homemade granola is the perfect crunch along with some yogurt or milk.

4. Hydrate! 

Our thirst cues are weaker than our hunger cues, but quite
often — about 37 per cent of the time — when we reach for a snack we’re actually thirsty. Stay well hydrated throughout the day with water, herbal teas, or milk. If you’re having a hard time getting the water down, you can always squeeze in a bit of lemon, orange or lime to enhance the flavour.

5. Choose intuitively and intentionally. 

Listening to what our bodies are wanting and or needing can be difficult, but when we can gauge our hunger and seek the food choices that we want, the satisfaction level from the food we’ve chosen goes up and we tend to make more mindful choices. If you’ve ever been in the “snacking mood” and have one food, then another, or possibly a third without being satisfied, you may not be listening to what your body needs at that time. It’s a beautiful thing when we can get to the point of intentional and intuitive eating!

Here, three recipes to both whet — and satisfy — your appetite.

Balsamic Chic Avocado Toast
Servings: 1-2

2 slices multigrain bread, toasted
1 avocado from Mexico, sliced
6-8 cherry tomatoes, halved
10-12 bocconcini pearls
A few fresh basil leaves
Balsamic vinegar reduction
Fresh ground pepper to taste

Toast the bread slices under the broiler until they reach the desired shade. Arrange the avocado slices on the toasted bread and garnish with the cherry tomatoes. Add the bocconcini pearls and drizzle the balsamic vinegar over them. Garnish with the basil leaves and add pepper to taste.

Eggplant Dip

Eggplant Dip
Makes: 2 cups (500 mL)

1 eggplant
3 green onions, finely chopped
1 large tomato, peeled and chopped
1 small clove garlic, finely chopped
1 ⁄ 2 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 tbsp (15 mL) freshly squeezed
lemon juice or white wine vinegar
1 tbsp (15 mL ) vegetable oil
1 ⁄ 2 tsp (2 mL) salt
1 ⁄ 4 tsp (1 mL) freshly ground black pepper

Prick eggplant in several places with a fork. Place in baking pan and roast in preheated (400 F) oven for 30 minutes. Let cool, then peel and finely chop. In a bowl, combine chopped eggplant, green onions, tomato, garlic and celery. Add lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours to blend the flavours.

Sweet and Salty Salsa with Feta

Sweet and Salty Salsa with Feta
Servings: 4 to 6

1 cup (250 mL) Canadian Feta, finely diced
1 cup (250 mL) watermelon, finely diced
1 cup (250 mL) cantaloupe, finely diced
1 cup (250 mL) red bell pepper, finely diced
1 cup (250 mL) pineapple, finely diced
1/4 cup (60 mL) red onion, chopped
1/4 cup (60 mL) fresh cilantro, chopped
Freshly ground pepper

In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together and season with pepper. Serve with meat or grilled fish, or as an accompaniment to Mexican dishes.

© Dietitians of Canada. 2018. Permission to reprint in its entirety. For noncommercial use only. Recipes Source: