Next Level Snack Ideas To Beat Mindless Munching

While I don't have a What I Ate Wednesday for you this week, I do have something related to the foods I've been eating lately.

Here on Peanut Butter Is My Boyfriend (PBIMBF?) I've been writing a lot about biking, running, racing and group fitness-ing. The result of all this physical activity is being constantly hangry

It seems that I'm always sitting at my desk reaching for another snack. 

"Just one more handful of granola..." 

"Ok, after this apple I'm D-O-N-E." 

"Just a little piece of this Cliff bar." 

It's ENDLESS and a lot of the time, it's mindless - which is the worst kind of snacking! 

So I'm trying to step up my snack game by focusing on nosh that is NEXT LEVEL. 

What do I mean by next level? A next level snack strives for these 4 characteristics: 

  • Filling
  • Mindful
  • Delicious
  • Substantial 
Snacks to Stop Mindless Munching

FILLING 

Snacks can be empty calories, or they can be FUEL. Fuel is better than filler. Fiber and protein are KEY when looking for a snack that's going to keep you satiated. 

MINDFUL

No more taking the easy way out when it comes to snackage. Grabbing a handful of dry cereal or breaking off a piece of a meal replacement bar is wayyy too easy to do mindlessly.

This results in eating when you're not hungry, having no idea how much you're really eating, and not stopping when you're full. 

I've found that if my snack requires some assembly - simple, but hands-on - it's much more fulfilling, rewarding and mindful. 

DELICIOUS 

Uh, obviously ain't nobody got time for a snack that doesn't satisfy your taste buds! 

SUBSTANTIAL 

I don't know about you, but I'd rather have a 100 calorie snack that takes me 5 minutes to eat vs. popping a 100 calorie chocolate into my mouth. Food is meant to be enjoyed - plus it's been psychologically proven that having more pieces on your plate makes you feel more full. So snacks that include multiple pieces/bites/etc. are my preference. 

THE SNACKS

RICE CAKES + CUCUMBER + HUMMUS 

Alright - so rice cakes aren't jam-packed with nutrients. But there's something to be said for a snack that has some CRUNCH to it, and a rice cake (preferably whole wheat or brown rice) is a great low-calorie vehicle for a healthy spread like hummus. 

Hummus packs a powerful protein punch - with 4 grams per 1/3 cup. There's also 4 grams of fiber and healthy fats! 

Cucumbers add a refreshing dose of greens to the snack.

POPCORN 

No, I'm not recommending that you go to a movie theater and get buttery, chemically popcorn to chow down on at your desk. 

But homemade popcorn has surprisingly good nutrition stats - and it's oh so pop-in-your-mouthable! Something about popcorn feels so snacky to me. 

According to studies, popcorn (a whole grain snack) is bursting with antioxidants. And 4 cups has 5 grams of fiber meaning it will fill you up!

My favorite way to make homemade popcorn is with coconut oil which adds a hint of sweetness. You by no means need to add salt, but I like a little sprinkle of sea salt to make it taste like kettle-corn! 

There are tons of flavor combos you can try with popcorn - cinnamony, spicy, rosemary - with kernels fairly cheap, you can try it all! 

My favorite version that I've made so far wasn't exactly  low-cal, low-sugar, fat-free - but it sure was damn good! I used this recipe from Two Of A Kind Cooks to create ooey gooey PB popcorn for Superbowl this year! 

If making your own popcorn stresses you out (it scared me for awhile too!) or just takes too much effort - my new pre-packaged popcorn obsession is Crunchy Rob's

Crunchy Rob's Popcorn

The first time I tried their Brazilian Coconut popcorn, I died and went to heaven. They have three other flavors and I've tried them all. Brazilian Coconut is definitely my favorite, but there's also Pineapple Habanero, Bangin' Cheddar and Himalayan Sea Salt. These are non-GMO, 100% whole wheat and loaded with fiber. They're low in sugar and also have some protein. 

CARROTS + PB 

This might not sound like the greatest combination, but trust me - it's great. Maybe it's because I have a passion for both carrots & PB - but I swear these two go together phenomenally. Carb-free snacking with lots of protein from the PB and beta carotene and fiber from the carrots.  Just be sure to pre-portion out your PB if you're anything like me - I could eat half the jar in a sitting. Okay, the whole jar. 

APPLE SLICES + CREAM CHEESE & HONEY 

Don't ask me how this craving popped into my head, but after a recent race in Central Park, I got home with my free apple and found myself giving it a good old schmear of cream cheese. I drizzled some honey on it and went to take a bite - fully expecting it to either be awful, or amazing. I'm happy to report that it was the latter and that this has become one of my favorite snacks - it's even been my dessert a couple of nights.  If you want to get fancy, you can sprinkle some toasted coconut flakes on top or change it up with fig jam instead of honey. Oh la la. 

EPIC Bars

At the Bear Mountain North Face Endurance Challenge Trail Race, I cautiously approached the EPIC tent, sampling bites from their meat-bars. I still get a little queasy when I think of them as meat-bars - but, that's what they are. 

And it turns out, they're delicious, with a GREAT nutritional make-up that blows a granola bar out of the water. I'm so glad I gave these a chance, because I'm hooked! 

My favorite flavor that I've encountered so far is definitely the Bison Bacon Cranberry. The cranberries add some sweetness to the smokey, meaty flavor that distracts me from the whole...meat-bar thing. 

Any snack that has 200 calories, 11 grams of protein and just 8 grams of sugar is good by me! Oh, and only 10 grams of carbs? 

The Pulled Pork Pineapple was also delicious with just 130 calories, 15 grams of protein, 5 grams of carbs and 3 grams of sugar. 

Truly Epic. 

CHIA SEED PUDDING 

Make this at home ahead of time and store it in your fridge at work when hunger strikes - it feels like you're eating a sweet treat - but it's actually loaded with fiber and protein!

The key to making chia seed pudding is the ratio - 1 cup of liquid to every 3 tablespoons of chia seeds. I like to make mine with coconut or almond milk and you can get creative with flavorings by adding honey, cocoa powder, almonds, fruit, vanilla extract, etc. 

Two tablespoons of these little guys has got 4 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber - plus, the way they expand makes you feel full for much longer! 

YOUR TURN: 
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE MID-DAY SNACK? 
HOW MANY SNACKS DO YOU EAT ON AN AVERAGE DAY? 
WHAT'S THE MOST IMPORTANT CHARACTERISTIC OF YOUR SNACK FOOD? 

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