Protein Packed Power

I teach women to eat smaller meals throughout the day and to keep snacks on hand to support a stable blood sugar, fight off fatigue, avoid hunger and maintain adequate fluid intake. In the past, I found myself telling a woman, “Eat a protein snack,” but I never backed it up with examples of what I meant. Everyone’s definition of protein is different (I once had a woman who ate several pieces of deep fried chicken because she thought that as long as she chose meat she was OK). Here I want to provide some examples of easy snacks that will satisfy hunger while providing sufficient protein and other nutrients.

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Photo by Rachael Gorjestani

Dried fruits and nuts

Small handfuls of dried fruits or nuts work well to curb hunger and provide healthy nutrition. However, commercially-packaged dried fruits or nuts may contain sugars, preservatives, or salt that need to be avoided. Learn to read package labels carefully to check on the amount of sugars or salts added to a product.  Dried fruit can be made easily by drying slices of fruit on a baking sheet in a regular oven. Raw nuts have less salt than ones that are pre-packaged.

Greek yogurt

Greek yogurt is packed with protein and now certain products have extra protein added to them. I advise women to avoid the flavored kind or ones with fruit added: those are mostly sugar which makes blood sugar levels rise then fall and hunger to return. Plain Greek yogurt, then, is the best option with close to 20 grams of protein in one cup. Some women, however, find it too bitter or dislike the consistency; I recommend adding in fresh berries or a tablespoon-size sprinkle of granola for added texture and taste.

Vegetables with yogurt dip

Greek yogurt also makes a great dipping spread for raw vegetables. I mix dill, lemon juice, parsley or tarragon into Greek yogurt then use it as an herb dip for fresh carrot sticks, celery pieces, or radish slices.

Edamame

I love the taste of edamame and think it makes a satisfying snack on the run. 1 cup of edamame has about 17 grams of protein and sufficient calcium and other minerals. I steam them in their shell and take them on the go, or I shell them in advance and take a small container to eat, one by one, at my desk.

Hard boiled eggs

Eggs are full of vitamins and other nutrients. An egg contains significant amounts of B vitamins and has about 6 grams of protein. Plus, hard boiled eggs travel and store well.

Pumpkin seeds

Unsalted, cooked pumpkin seeds have an inherently salty or earthy taste that satisfies cravings and wards off hunger. ¼ cup makes an ideal snack. Be certain, however, that they do not contain extra or added salt (as if often found in commercially prepared products).

Apple and peanut butter

I love peanut butter and can eat spoonfuls right from the jar. However, popular brands of peanut butter, regardless if it’s smooth, creamy, chunky or “natural”, often contains a lot of sugars and calories for a one tablespoon serving. To get the taste of peanut butter without the excess, I recommend eating an apple cut into several small wedges with a tablespoon maximum of peanut butter. The peanut butter contains about 4 grams of protein and the apple, with its fiber and water content, helps keep you feeling full longer. Plus, the apple provides a natural form of sweetness that pairs well with the salty peanut butter.

Peanut Butter Energy Bites

I just admitted that it’s too tempting to take spoonfuls of peanut butter at a time (or at least I agree that it’s hard to take just one small spoonful and put the jar away!). To fight that urge to keep eating peanut butter, I make peanut butter bites that work well to fight off hunger and satisfy any craving for a salty snack. I’m including a super-easy recipe here:

Peanut Butter Bites

  • 1 cup old fashioned oats (not instant!)
  • ½ cup peanut butter (creamy, crunchy or natural)
  • 1/3 cup of honey *
  • ¼ cup chia seeds (optional but they provide protein, good fat, fiber and  lots of other nutrients)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (optional for a little more sweetness)
  • 2/3 cup toasted, unsweetened coconut (optional)
  1. Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl. Refrigerate mixture for 30 to 60 minutes
  2. Take a tablespoon-sized amount of mix and gently roll into a ball. If the mix is not sticking (which may happen depending on the peanut butter you use or the humidity) add a few honey, drops at a time, or a dab of peanut butter until the mix comes together in a ball easily
  3. Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. These can be kept longer in the freezer

*With honey, I prefer to use natural honey from a bee keeper or an apiary as opposed to commercial honey. For example, I use honey from the Tanis Apiary in Pompton Plains, New Jersey because it has amazing taste and works well with a recipe like this.

Roasted Chick Peas

These make a perfect, crunchy snack because they contain the right amount of flavor, vitamins, nutrients, and fiber. They are easy to make and you can vary the recipe by adding in other flavors. I’m including a basic recipe here:

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Roasted Chick Peas

  • 1 can (12 ounces) chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans), drained
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (extra virgin is best)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  2. Blot the chickpeas with a paper towel to dry
  3. Mix chickpeas, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste in a bowl
  4. Spread chickpeas on a baking sheet and bake 30 to 40 minutes until brown and crunchy. Use caution toward the end of baking to avoid burning.
  5. Allow to cool. Store in an air tight container for up to one week.

Other flavors can be added to these- try ¼ to ½ teaspoon of garlic powder, cayenne, cinnamon, cardamom, rosemary, garam masala, coriander and cumin to taste when mixing chickpeas with the olive oil. Or, after baking, sprinkle lightly with parsley and fresh grated parmesan cheese.

 

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