When eating on the go, it’s easy to opt for quick, high-calorie, unhealthy fixes but healthy meals and snacks are key to feeling energized, satisfied and generally better about your overall health. All it takes is planning ahead to have healthy, tasty, grab-and-go choices on-hand. You can buy or prepare these ahead of time.
Here are some healthy “real food” ideas to keep within reach in your car, at the office or at home.
Great news – a new wide range of healthful individually-packaged food options are available at convenience stores and grocery stores, as more and more shoppers seek out fresh, healthy choices. Know where to go and what to look for. 7-Eleven recently launched a wide range of better-for-you snack and meal options, including sandwiches and salads under 400 calories. Some of my favorites: tuna salad and turkey sandwiches, Chicken Caesar and Thai salads (light dressings are available), hummus and pita chips, fruit cups, mixed nuts, yogurt parfait with fresh fruit and granola topping, carrot and celery sticks with Ranch dip, individually wrapped string cheese and cheese rounds and hard-boiled eggs.
Think Ahead, Prep Ahead
Set aside a half hour each week to make your own portable snack packs to grab when heading out the door each day. Combine a variety of foods that go well together and put them in small baggies. Try raw almonds mixed with golden raisins. Mix up different kinds of nuts like pistachios, walnuts, and peanuts (3-4 tablespoons per baggie); mix in dried fruit like dried cranberries, cherries and strawberries. Add a few fiber-rich brown rice crackers to pair with Cabot Cheese individual slices. Package grape tomatoes or baby carrots or cucumber slices. Have 6 oz. nonfat Greek yogurts on hand, and individual cottage cheese containers that can be topped with nuts.
Stock up on portable snacks that are perfectly sized to stash in your purse, desk drawer or office fridge. Wonderful options include raisins, popcorn, carrots and celery sticks with a low-fat Ranch dressing or hummus, soy nuts, string cheese, fruit, pistachios, almonds, cereal, trail mix, instant oatmeal packets individual 1-tablespoon almond or peanut butter or avocado packets with whole-wheat crackers or pita chips.
Photo courtesy of Bethany King
Don’t Get Bored – Get Creative
Take your snacks to the next level. Don’t just stick to the same foods — if you tire of these, you may find yourself reaching for salty and sugary options. Instead, come up with new ideas and swap in foods that excite you. You’ll be more inclined to snack on these throughout the day. Some fun, tasty, creative and healthy ideas:
- A handful of dried plums, edamame beans or brown rice crackers
- Salad on a stick – skewer grape tomatoes, cucumber slices and feta cubes
- Fruit on a stick – skewer 2 strawberries, 2 pineapple chunks, melon chunks and grapes
- Your favorite fruit cut in half (try apples or other fruits in season) topped with a tablespoon of nut- butter and a sprinkle of ginger
- Vitamin-rich mandarin oranges (try Cuties or Halos)
- Celery sticks wrapped in slices of your favorite low-fat, low-sodium deli meat (try turkey breast or ham) and dipped in one teaspoon of whole grain mustard
For more ideas on healthy eating and successful solutions, check out The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution: Step Up to the Plate (2009). My guidebook of tips and eating plans makes healthy eating more enjoyable and more manageable. Connect with me online at @GeorgiaKostas and Facebook/GeorgiaKostasNutrition and visit: http://www.georgiakostas.com