Tips to Help Snackers & Grazers

snack eating tips

Hello, I’m a Snacker snacks

I don’t always crave junk food though, so my weight has been roughly in the normal weight range for my height. There have been times however when I’ve noticed the weight creeping up and my energy levels dipping from snacking on unhealthy foods.

Since I’m pregnant, I’m trying to become even more mindful of my snacking habits. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve fell for the convenience and charm of that box of Twinkies in the pantry. People have told me that I’m eating for two, but that doesn’t mean I want to double my calorie intake. I’ve been working on increase my calories appropriately with healthy and delicious food.

Tips to Becoming a Mindful Snacker

Curious to see if there were any books on the topic, I stopped by my local library and found a few. One that caught my eye was Mindles Eating by Brian Wansink, a director at the Cornell Food and Brand Lab.  His book offered some practical tips based on food lab studies that I wanted to share and offer my personal observations and comments on:

  • Think back: If you have high calorie / unhealthy foods that you constantly snack on, Wansink suggests moving them to the back of your refrigerator, pantry, cupboards, etc. Make it a bit harder to reach and you can cut back on your mindless snacking habits.
  • Don’t buy snacks ahead of time: Besides making it easier for you to indulge in your snacking habits, not buying unhealthy foods can also trim a bit off of your grocery bill. I’ve found that not having boxes of snack cakes in the house encourages me to eat more fruit. When we have friends over I encourage them to take some of the snacks with them. When we have leftovers they usually end up being eaten in a day or two.
  • Substitute your cravings: Wansink suggests finding foods that have similar textures, such as crunchy vegetables. I have a sweet tooth, so I try to have yogurt and some Kashi around the house for snacks.
  • Chew gum: This tip is to help reduce consumption of chips, cookies, ice cream, and candy.
  • Place healthy foods in sight: The opposite of the first tip, Wansink suggests that you make healthy option easily assessable to you whenever you want to graze. You’ll satisfy your personal eating habits, but you’ll be improving your health as well. I’ll let you know that this has worked for me and helped me by having fruits readily available.

Thoughts on Snacking

I really like most of the tips offered because they’re 1) easy to do and 2) small changes to my routine. I’m not looking to diet (as most people associate with the word). Instead I’m looking to tweak my eating patterns into something beneficial and enjoyable. I still think food is fun.

I’d love to get your feedback on this topic.  How do you keep your snacking habit in check? What has been the hardest to adjust? What has been the easiest?

Photo Credit: swanksalot

 

Plantain Chips

One of my favorite treats when I visit family is plantain chips to munch on while I catch up with everyone. According to LiveStrong, plantain chips offers essential vitamins such as vitamin B6, beta carotene, folate, and riboflavin.

Fried Plantain Chips

Time: 15 minutes plantain chips

Ingredients

  • Vegetable Oil for deep-frying
  • 2 medium-rip plantains
  • Garlic Salt

Preparation

  • Put oil in your skillet until it’s at least an inch deep
  • Put the heat to medium-high
  • Cut your plantain thinly for your chips
  • Fry the chips for about 2 minutes or so
  • Remove chips with tongs and drain with paper towels
  • Sprinkle garlic salt on top of chips to taste

Makes about 4 servings

Photo Credit: Rennett Stowe

 

Crab Dip

My husband was chatting with his grandmother reminiscing about some family gatherings they’ve had. During the conversation she went ahead and shared a few of her recipes with him. crab dip picture

Nana’s Crab Dip

Ingredients

  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 dashes Tabasco sauce
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup red and green peppers, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
  • 1 cup cracker crumbs
  • 1 lb crab meat

Preparation

  • Melt butter in pan.
  • Add cream, salt, Tabasco, mustard, lemon juice, and Worcestershire sauce.
  • Stir over low heat until blended.
  • Add peppers, celery, 2/3 cup cracker crumbs and blend together.
  • Remove from heat. Add crab meat, mix.
  • Put in baking dish, sprinkle remaining 1/3 cup cracker crumbs and dab butter on top.
  • Put in oven at 400ºF for 20 minutes.

Photo Credit: jeffreyw

 

The Produce Box Review

One of our goals this year is to shave a little off our grocery bill and improve the quality of the food we’re getting. We decided to looking to getting more fresh produce in our meals, but the prices seemed discouraging. After some thought, we started looking at Local Harvest to see what some options were.

We discovered The Produce Box and felt like it would help us achieve our goals. I thought it would be appropriate for our first review to be them since we’re trying them this season.

The Produce Box- What is It?

The Produce Box offers locally grown, farm-fresh produce delivery service to members in the Wake County area. The cost for the program we’re looking at is $22/week plus a yearly $15 membership fee.

Compared to what we were seeing, the cost seemed very reasonable so we went ahead and signed up for it this season. They’ve recently expanded to the Wilmington, NC area in case anyone is interested.  the produce box of NC

What You Get with The Produce Box

What’s included in a typical small box? While it varies according to what’s in season, I found a listing of last season’s packages. A great option with this CSA is that for most week, there are alternate boxes you can sign up for and adds on like more fruit. Having some choice on what we get was very appealing to us.

  • 10 Ears Of Corn, Cucumbers, Blueberries, Field Tomatoes, Peaches, and 1 Surprise Item From The Farm
  • 10-12 peaches,1 personal seedless watermelon ,6-8 ears of corn ,1 pint blueberries,Tomatoes , 2 sprite melons
  • Field or Roma Tomatoes, Bell pepper, Peaches, Potatoes, Butternut squash, Sprite melon, Cherry or Grape tomatoes

Besides having a variety of choices each week, the portions seem reasonable for the two of us. There have been times where we buy more to get a discount, but we’ve had to dump a portion of it because we didn’t use it in time. If we start having more than we can eat or store with this program, we can simply out of the following week’s delivery.

Thoughts on The Produce Box and CSA

We have received a few deliveries this season and so far it’s been great. The only hard part of ordering is deciding which box to pick out. We’ve tried purple sweet potatoes for the first time and the strawberries from Lewis Farms has been fantastic. My husband and I have also have to adjust to the slightly different appearance of the fresh produce. The baby spinach doesn’t seem so baby as it is in the store and the Lewis Farm strawberries are bigger than we’re used to eating.

I’d like to get your take on community supported agriculture and how it affects you. How many of you have participated with a CSA? What have been some fo the pros and cons of joining? Have you been able to save money on groceries?

Improving Our Eating Habits as a Couple

This was a post I written about a year ago sharing the progress my husband and I made as a couple with our eating habits. I thought before I publish a post about further progress we’ve made, I’d share a bit of where we came from with our eating habits.

We knew that adjusting our diet and changing our eating habits were going to be mandatory for success. We’ve both been reading books and websites on the subject to get some general guidelines.  Food Inc with it’s DVD, website, and book combo offered some more information on the quality of food we should be putting into our bodies and more healthy tipsginger chicken in a clay pot

Adjusting Our Grocery List

I think a huge step for us in adjusting our groceries is we now try to read the labels before we buy. We’ve glanced on them occasionally, but we lazily relayed on the package cover to give us our information. We’re going to have to adjust our shopping list and I’m going have to do a grocery price book to reflect the new items we pick up now.

Drinking More Water and Switching Our Milk

We’ve never been big soda drinkers, but we love drinking juices. We would go through a ton of juice through the week. What we’ve done is cut back on drinking so much juice and tried to incorporate more water into our routines. I carry a water bottle some days to help me stay on goal. After a couple weeks, it’s become a habit and I want to have more water. That’s good news as I’m reducing calories and saving a little bit of money on our grocery bills.

We’ve also tried some different milk options than the whole milk we’ve been using. First we did the 2% choice and it was alright. I didn’t like the taste. We’ve had lactose free milk which was a bit sweet, but it tasted pretty good. We heard from some friends to try our almond milk and I was amazed by how much I love it. We use it for cereal and put some in our coffee. If you want to see the difference between all your milk options, FitSugar has a great chart to check out.

I will say that I wish almond milk was a bit cheaper and readily available.

Making Breakfast a Routine

Having breakfast as part of our morning routine is an adjustment. Too often we’re grabbing coffee (or maybe a smoothie if we have time) and get started with the day. However we need to have our weekday morning be more like our weekend morning, by having a solid breakfast.

Since time is an issue, we decided to have a cold cereal option to help us. We kept reading how skipping breakfast can sabotage your blood sugar and hinder weight loss. Having a good breakfast can increase your energy leveland reduce your chances of gorging later.

Cutting Back on Buying Snacks

As we’ve all heard, junk food is waste of calories and doesn’t have any real benefits for you.

Like I mentioned before, I love sweets and I had a habit of buying sweets as part of my grocery routine. What I try to do now if reduce the frequency of getting junk food when I go to the store. When we grocery shop together, this is less of an issue and we’ve done pretty well with it. This is a problem area for me though and I think it’ll be some time before I say I’m happy with my shopping habits.

Your Thoughts on Eating Healthy as a Couple

What are you guys doing to eat better? What has been the hardest change? What has been an easy adjustment for you?

Photo Credit: NickNguyen