Easy, Healthy Options for the Desperate Snack-a-holics

Picture this: You’re sitting in the living room, it’s 4pm, and you’re hungry.  The salad that you had for lunch at 12:30 was pretty filling, but now you’re starting to fantasize about delicious desserts and juicy sandwiches. It’s too early for dinner, but you know you won’t survive if you were to try to hold out for another 2 hours. 

What do you do?

A. Open the pantry, grab the first box of crackers, chips, granola, and/or cereal in sight and start taking handfuls from the bag
B. Open the refrigerator, grab a cheese stick and/or the (natural) peanut butter and stick your spoon right into the jar
C. Grab one, then another, then “just one more” of the birthday cupcakes sitting on the counter
D. All of the above.

Judging by the fact that as I type this, I have just watched my roommate walk into the house, head to the kitchen, and wolf down half a bag of pretzels, hummus, M&Ms, etc after a long day of class, I would assume your final answer is D.

I could be having a great day, make some healthy eating choices, go to the gym, and yet I will still come across this late-afternoon scenario. In my hurried attempt to find something satisfying, I end up settling for my roommate’s box of Cheez-its that caught my eye or dabbling in ten different “healthy” snack items, which all together, consist of a rather large, full meal. And besides not being hungry for dinner later, I always get mad at myself for raiding the kitchen and not having a little more self-control when it comes to deciding on one, healthy snack. Even the most nutritious of chip and cracker options are off-limits at the grocery store because I know all too well that I will be throwing the empty box/bag in the trashcan that same night. And somehow, even though I’m not buying these things at the store, I still manage to get my hands on them when it’s “crunch” time. 

This week, I declared a stop to this madness. So I made three different snack recipes to finally satisfy my never-ending 4 o’clock cravings.

First up?

Tangy Tuna Walnut Sauce

*My mother has made this recipe for years as a sauce for pasta, but I decided it would also be great to use as a low-carb snack dip

Ingredients:
-2 cans tuna
-1/2 C walnuts
-1/4 C basil/cilantro/parsley (your choice)
-Juice and lemon zest from 1 lemon (grate the rind, then squeeze the juice)
-1 t balsamic vinegar
-Olive oil (as desired)

Instructions:
-Combine all ingredients except olive oil into food processor and pulse until smooth
-Gradually add olive oil and pulse until you reach desired consistency

I served the sauce with veggies and homemade flax crackers

I served the sauce with veggies and homemade flax crackers

Homemade Flax Crackers

*I made the most basic form of flax crackers that you can find because I wanted to be able to really enjoy the tuna walnut sauce. However, many recipes also call for garlic powder, onion powder, ground veggies, cumin, cayenne, etc. So get creative!

Ingredients:
-2 cups ground flax seed
-1 cup water
-Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:
-Preheat oven to 400 degrees 
-Combine water and flax and wait until flax has fully absorbed the water and resembles gel consistency
-Spread mixture evenly onto a baking sheet at about 1/8 inch thickness and cut into squares
-Bake in oven until crispy and brown, but not burnt (about 30 min)

*Makes about 24 crackers

(Thanks to Loren for the idea of the sandwiches and Leah for the beautiful photo)

(Thanks to Loren for the idea of the sandwiches and to Leah for the beautiful photo)

And last but not least, to keep with the theme of quick, baked snacks:

Sweet Potato Chips

*Last week, one of my roommates and I bought 2 sweet potatoes each, with many aspirations of creating wonderful fall dishes.  However, a week went by and we hadn’t touched them, so I decided sweet potato chips was an easy way to start, even if it was just a snack.

Ingredients:
-1 sweet potato
-1 T olive oil
-Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:
-Preheat oven to 400 degrees
-Peel the potato and slice into very thin rounds
-Put potato slices into a bowl and add olive oil, salt, and pepper
-Use hands to massage oil and seasonings into the potatoes
-Scatter across 2 baking sheets and cook for 20-25 min, flipping them halfway through

sweetpotatopic

Sorry for the low-quality photo, it was a nighttime snack.

All of these recipes were super simple to make and can be doubled to last you longer throughout the week. 6 of us devoured the sweet potato chips pretty quickly, but the flax crackers and tuna walnut sauce were able to make it through a few more days. And the best part about making my own snacks was that when I was in “crunch” mode, aiming to devour everything in sight, I was less inclined to over eat these few snacks that I had spent some quality time cooking in the kitchen. Finally, a step in the right direction!

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