You walk into any grocery store or convenience store and you’re faced with hundreds and hundreds of choices for “foods of convenience” a.k.a snacks. We’ve made snacking a normal part of our everyday routine. And if you’re a parent of a small child, you know how important snacks are, particularly to avoid melt downs in public. Whether out of habit or necessity, snacking helps provide sufficient energy until our next meal. Although in a perfect world, we’re better off sticking to three main meals a day… well-balanced that is so that we’re not hungry an hour later, unfortunately we don’t live in a perfect world. In the real world, we’ve got places to go, people to see and an eternal list of to-do’s. Meal times get cut short and often times you have no choice but to grab something quick and on the go. So rather than hitting a vending machine and hoping for a miracle that there’s something remotely nutritious available, why not visit your local Sprouts and stock up on healthy foods that are easy to carry and actually provide you with little things called nutrients.
1. COCONUT WATER
Okay, this is technically a drink, however who couldn’t use more hydration. Many times when we feel hunger, we’re actually thirsty, so why not add coconut water to your daily routine and let your body soak in the electrolytes like potassium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. Sometimes referred to as “Mother Nature’s sports drink” due to it’s natural electrolyte content, coconut water contains less sugar than regular sports drinks and much less sugar than sodas and fruit juices. Your local Sprouts in McAllen carries a variety of coconut water brands; however stick to the non-flavored, unsweetened brands in order to avoid unwanted added sugars.
2. FRUIT/VEGGIE STICKS
So this one is a no brainer and lucky for us most grocery stores already carry pre-packaged “snack-size” portions of fruits and veggies, including apple slices, carrot sticks and even celery sticks. Let’s not forget the easy to take with you fruits that don’t necessarily need packaging…including oranges, mandarins and even kumquats. These healthy carbs offer a nutritional punch including fiber which can help you stay full longer. Costco is a great place to buy organic, pre-packaged sliced apples that are great to grab on the go or add to a kid’s lunch.
3. NUT BUTTERS
These are actually one of my favorite snacks to carry for emergency situations like being delayed at an airport or during all-day trainings and conferences with long hours between meals. Nut butters, like almond and peanut butter, boast both protein and healthy fats which provide satiety and long lasting energy. So instead of carrying tubs of almond or peanut butter, opt for the single serve packets which now come available in a different variety of combinations like walnut or hazelnut butters and even coconut and sunflower seed butters.
4. KALE CHIPS
So you feel like eating chips but want to avoid the guilt afterwards. Try kale chips to satisfy the cravings for something crunchy or salty. Considered a nutritional powerhouse, kale contains many nutrients that are sure to nourish you on the go.
5. ROASTED SEAWEED
Trust me on this one. I always thought the only way to eat seaweed was to eat sushi. But luckily we have roasted seaweed easily available at Sprouts or Costco. Seaweed is a good source of iodine, which your thyroid relies heavily on to function properly. It comes in individual packages, which make it an excellent on the go snack. These tasty treats come in sheets and can be enjoyed on their own or crumbled in different foods.
6. TIGER NUTS
If you’ve never heard of tiger nuts, (you’re not alone); however they’ve been around for over 4,000 years. And they’re not even a nut, they’re small crunchy tubers (like potatoes) that contain lots of fiber and have a sweet, nutty flavor. I was very surprised to see them in my local Sprouts in McAllen and are ready to eat out of the bag. If you like to venture out and try new foods, tiger nuts are for you. They also can be used to make a delicious grain-free granola!
Rich in heart-heathy mono unsaturated fats, olives are an excellent, satisfying snack. And since they’re available in single serve packages at your local Sprouts, it makes it easier to start that Mediterranean diet you’ve always wanted to try. I’d run, not walk, for these.
8. Real PROTEIN BARS
If you’re considering a protein bar, try EPIC bars, which are available at Sprouts and HEB. These life savers are made from actual protein meat, like bison, beef, chicken & turkey rather than protein powder. They are combined with dried fruit like cranberries and nuts for a surprisingly tasty treat. And if you’re adventurous, consider cricket protein. They say cricket protein is the way of the future. Made from cricket flour, these bars are excellent for workout recovery as they contain complete proteins, and are a great alternative to high-sugar granola bars. Lucky for us we now have cricket protein bars available at Sprouts.
Jerky has been a favorite for many years as a high protein snack, whether it’s from beef, turkey or bison. It’s one of the easiest snacks to grab on the go, just be careful to avoid jerky with excess added sugars or fillers. There’s even liver jerky, but let’s not push it.
10. PUMPKIN SEEDS
Many people know these as pepitas. Pumpkin seeds make an excellent snack not only because they’re easy to grab and go but because they’re also high in several key nutrients like zinc, calcium and magnesium. They’re also a rich source of tryptophan, an amino acid that gets converted to serotonin and eventually melatonin for a good night’s rest. Enjoy them roasted, on salads or even in trail mixes. You can find sprouted pumpkin seeds at Sprouts and they can be easily added to trail mix or salads.