So, a little background on me and snacks. We don’t get along. I mean, we did when I was a kid, but this lead me to a pretty unhealthy life and weight. All that snacking really dragged me down, and I was in no way healthy. Even as I became more diet-conscious, all those “low-fat” health foods did me no good because I used it as an excuse to eat the entire lot of whatever it was – cookies, ice cream, yogurt, cake – you name it.
I have a MEAN sweet tooth and it’s gotten me into trouble. Combined with a shaky relationship to food overall, I’ve found myself caught up in countless binge cycles with a weight that yo-yo’s far more than the average person’s should.
Now that I’ve become invested in my health and taken the steps to normalize both my eating and my relationship with food, it was time to welcome snacks back into my life. While this is a bit scary (because knowing chocolate is in the cupboard can be tempting), it’s been incredibly rewarding.
Instead of reaching for snacks out of comfort, boredom, or out of emotion, I’ve found what I’ve been looking for all along: balance. While I love the premise of the paleo diet and real food in general, I had to implement the concept of moderation into my daily routine. I’m not bound by the fear of overeating these foods or deeming them “evil” because the paleo police would say they’re a big “no no,” but instead I look forward to treating myself. I eat mostly clean veggies, healthy fats and meat so I hit all my nutrient goals for the day, but I also get to have chocolate and cereal DAILY.
These are some of my favorite healthy snack options I picked up this week and have been enjoying!
While these are usually quite “paleo-friendly” using just dates, nuts and some spices or other dried fruits to make a lovely bar, they are quite the trigger food for me. A tiny bar packs in quite a bit of sugar without the protein to lessen the blow which tends to make me want more. Lo and behold, I found these MINI versions at Target which automatically helps me keep my snack portions in control. I chose the peanut butter ones because… peanut butter is LIFE.
Peanut Butter Puffins
Did I mention peanut butter is life? I avoid buying jars of nut butter because… well, maybe you know how that goes. The two tablespoon portion size is measly, and I want MORE. I want to put it on all the things – fruit, toast, my fingers, spoons that will soon enter my mouth. This runs up my calorie count a bit too high for my liking, especially as I want to indulge daily. Between the Lara Bars and my favorite low-sugar cereal, I can get my fix without the damage. These Puffins only have 6 grams of sugar per serving, and I love having them with a bit of yogurt in the morning.
Okay, this is the LAST mention of peanut butter, I promise. Are you craving some yet?! I’m being quite conscious of my energy intake at the moment, logging my food, and losing some weight I put on quite successfully. While this requires me to sacrifice some calories, it certainly doesn’t require me to sacrifice flavor or big food (I am a volume eater!) This stuff comes in the clutch for ¼ of the calories per serving compared to regular peanut butter with no funky ingredients besides a little sugar which I am NO LONGER AFRAID OF.
Boom Chicka Popcorn
Realistically, I KNOW I can pop my own popcorn. Alas, I don’t have a microwave and I have never done it on the stove, so it’s a bit intimidating. Besides, I’m taking advantage of simple ways to log my food intake and control portions with minimal effort. So, when I found these individual 80 calorie bags of plain popcorn at Target, my heart did a little dance. I don’t LOVE popcorn, but it soothes my need for something salty (on the rare occasion I’m not craving sweets) when I need it. Popcorn is one of those foods where a little goes a long way, too, which I really like.
Halo Top Ice Cream
GUYS. There is nothing better. At 240-280 calories per PINT, I can indulge in one of my all-time favorite hobbies: eating an entire pint of ice cream in one sitting. Whole Foods had a shortage of these guys for a few weeks (it was tragic) and they are STOCKED with all the flavors! I can’t even choose a favorite between birthday cake and chocolate, but this is as close as you get to real ice cream without it being “real.” This stuff is packed with protein, sweetened with ethyritol, and has a milk and egg base just like the real stuff. GO GET SOME. Like, four pints at least. And yes, this was very hard to balance but no Halo Tops were hurt during this photoshoot.
This is one of my MAJOR fear foods. Having chocolate means eating the whole bar, but I want to share with you guys that I have eaten just ONE SQUARE per day. It is a moment I take my time doing. I look forward to it. I enjoy every single bite of rich, chocolate-y goodness and I move on. I even forget the chocolate is there. This is a healthy indulgence as the chocolate is dark (antioxidants!) with crunchy raw cacao nibs in there. This is what freedom tastes like.
While I don’t knock on organic corn tortilla chips or whatever the heck they’re turning into tortilla chips these days (kale, beans, quinoa, cheese), I prefer a more digestible food. While these still can be a “food without brakes” much like potato chips (once you pop, the fun don’t stop!), they are perfect for topping off an awesome taco salad, dipping in salsa as a snack, or making a crust for baked chicken breast out of. Salty, crunchy, and minimally processed (just roasted with palm oil), these are a mainstay in my house.
Alexandra Barone (aka Alex) is a healthy living aficionado residing in the lovely city of Pittsburgh, PA. She writes about all things real food with a focus on the paleo diet. When she’s not throwing it down in the kitchen, you can find her swinging kettlebells at Primal Fitness Pittsburgh, running through Frick Park, or walking dogs around the city. Please feel free to email her with any questions regarding Primal Fitness Pittsburgh at firstname.lastname@example.org