Nutritious Snacking for Health and Recovery – Product Review
I love a good snack. Well, it may be more accurate to say that I love a good meal, but what is a snack but an abbreviated meal. When done mindfully, I find that nothing provides my being more nourishment than a good snack.
Snacking keeps my body active, mind engaged, and spirit amiable. My blood sugar stays fairly stable when I snack so that I don’t experience any traumatic crash in energy or mental acuity. Snacking also keeps my metabolism running at a pretty consistent rate so that I am able to maintain a somewhat lean and muscular frame. On a more personal level, snacking helps prevent binge eating, keeps my outlook positive and often lends itself to a more compassionate disposition.
Snacking truly is nourishment for the mind, body and soul.
A nutritious snack must be balanced in terms of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates and have the appropriate amount of energy to keep us going between larger meals. At the same time, a quality snack is built without the use of any potentially harmful chemical additives, preservatives, fillers, or colors that are synonymous with our food system.
Whole, unprocessed foods are the ideal snack. Fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds are easy and reliable. Fruits and vegetables contain a significant amount of bioactive phytochemicals, a.k.a. antioxidants, which help fight oxidative stress and inflammation to reduce the risk of chronic disease. Nuts and seeds provide the body with the dietary fats that are a major source of energy, aid in absorption of fat-soluble micronutrients, promote heart health, and contribute to bowel regularity. A nutritious snack may also resemble one of your larger staple meals with the appropriate accommodations made to portion size. Dinner leftovers from the night before packaged in a 1 or 2 cup Tupperware would certainly work well.
The tricky part with snacking is that it is highly personal and is dependent upon our unique circumstance and health goals. Some people have jobs that demand a significant amount of time on the road while others may only need to take into consideration the eight hours between nine and five. Some people may spend their workday moving around a giant warehouse while others may be confined to the 4 x 4 foot patch of land that is their cubicle. Whatever the circumstances may be, a nutritious snack must fully accommodate ones dietary needs and should be easy enough for us to grab in a pinch should the need arise.
Hands down, whole foods are the best snacks. But, when access is limited or the appropriate accommodations to support whole food snacking aren’t available, I rely upon a few staple products that I have found to be extremely nourishing and convenient. Nutrient composition favors protein and fat, which is perfectly suited to those trying to both lose weight and achieve long-term athletic greatness, and are absent all the toxic substances that have become synonymous with convenience foods. These foods are ethically produced with the highest quality ingredients by individuals and companies that are focused on more than just the going concern. They are widely distributed and can be found in most health food stores. They fit perfectly into my nutritional philosophy, a plant heavy omnivorous diet, and can help support any therapeutic diet. They are simply superior to anything else you may be able to find on the market. Oh, and did I mention that they are friggin’ delicious?!
My go-to, busier-than-all-get-out, nourishing and delicious snacks, in no particular order, are:
RxBars – Averaging around 200 calories, 6 grams fat and 15 grams protein and with an ingredients list that extends no further than egg whites, nuts, fruit and fruit juice, RxBars are more of a light meal than a snack. Nutrient dense and slightly sweet, RxBars are the perfect afternoon snack to help the wary body and soul get the final push at work or school. The perfect combination of nutritious and delicious, RxBars are gluten-free, grain-free, paleo-friendly, of course.
Hail Merry – Taking the greatness of coconut oil to a whole new level, Hail Merry snacks are packed with medium chain triglycerides – an exceptional source of pure, unadulterated energy. A little on the sweeter side, I find Hail Merry miracle tarts and macaroons are the perfect post-dinner treat to satisfy my sweet tooth while fitting snuggly into my real food dietary philosophy. All Hail Merry products are gluten-free, raw, and vegan. Chocolate Raw Almond Butter Tart and Vanilla Macaroons pictured above.
Thunderbird Energetica/Gather/Epic – I celebrate the entire Thunderbird Energetica catalogue. Thunderbird bars are fruit and grain based, perfect for the endurance athlete before or during a long workout. Gather are nut and seed bars that are best suited for a mid-day snack or camp meal supplement. Epic bars are meat based protein bars that combine ethically sourced animal foods and dried food to satisfy even the greatest caveman hunger. Honestly, I could probably go a whole day eating nothing but Thunderbird, Gather and Epic bars and feel completely satisfied physically (the perfect combo of protein, fat, and carbs make an athlete’s body happy) and spiritually (concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) are criminal). All Thunderbird and Gather bars are gluten- and soy-free, raw, vegan, and low in sugar. Just a heads up, some Thunderbird Bars do contain grains. Epic bars are gluten-free, paleo-friendly and made from 100% grass fed animals.
Chapul – For the more adventurous and/or environmentally conscious snacker, Chapul bars are the perfect combination of cricket flour, dates, nuts, seeds and spices. Chapul bars pack a large punch in a small package and travel well regardless of your destination. Chapul bars are soy-, and diary-free, but do contain oats, which may be a concern for those sensitive to gluten or other grains. I snack on Chapul and feel like I am doing something great for the environment and my fellow man.
These are just a few of my favorite snack foods. There are many other high-quality snacks out there – fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, eggs and meat – but these bars are quick, easy, portable and delicious. In my opinion, they are the perfect answer for the time and energy strapped professional, student, athlete, and awesome-seeker. Enjoy!