EDITOR'S NOTE: Guest blogger Cynthia Parrott is a busy working woman who manages to find the time for fitness, diet and the writing of great advice for health-conscious women.
I am not really much of a snacker but every once in awhile I have the urge to sit, watch TV and munch on something. Sweets rarely tempt me but wave a big bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos in front of me and all bets are off.
On a really bad day or when I am just too tired and lazy to cook, I have been known to make a meal out of Doritos and wine. This is why I never allow the salty snacks into my house. Good wine remains welcome.
Some of us just can't resist something sweet, crunchy, salty or rich and creamy between meals or after dinner.
If you're watching your weight, trying to take off those excess pounds you put on over the holidays, or just trying to eat a healthier diet, you know that cookies, chips, chocolate and ice cream sundaes are going to undermine your efforts!
So, what do you do when the "Snack Demon" rears its ugly head?
First, give yourself permission to nosh a little. Yes, it's okay to snack now and then... or even every night if you wish. You just need to put a little thought into it.
Think REAL food, not fake overly processed junk like Doritos. We're bombarded by all kinds of diet snack products, but please don't bite. Not even at the things labeled "sugar-free fat-free cookies, the potato chips made with faux fat, or even the "diet" ice creams.
I am not saying to not enjoy these treats occasionally. But just remember that my examples are fake foods that will never really satisfy you.
As a nutritional consultant and advocate of REAL food, I prefer something good... something healthy... something I know is good for my body. It's what I recommend to my clients, as well.
So, what on earth shall we snack on? The possibilites are endless. But here are a few of my favorite ideas.
Be nuts about nuts!
Nuts are rich in vitamins, minerals and protein. And they help satisfy your salty, crunchy craving. Buy your nuts in the shell. Shelling nuts takes time and you wind up eating a whole lot less that way.
Pistachio nuts are perfect. Sunflower seeds in the shell are great for snacking, too. Give them to your kids. They are fun to eat as many Major League Baseball players will attest!
I also love Emerald Cocoa Roast Almonds. They're lightly sweet with a hint of dark chocolate flavored cocoa powder. You get a light chocolate flavor and big crunch without a lot of sugar, fat and calories. I promise you will never want M&Ms again after you try these -- but be sure to limit your fun!
I want my Edamame!
I cannot live without edamame (pronounced ed-ah-mom-ay). There are several bags of these frozen "soybeans in the pod" in my freezer at all times. They take minutes to prepare.
Just steam them for a minute or two on the stove or pop them in the microwave. Sprinkle with a little sea salt and snack away.
Edamame is rich in protein, satisfying, and fun to eat. You will love it! Serve it with a little low-fat dip if you wish. Dip the whole pod into the dip, suck out the beans, and toss the pods. Mmm, so good!
When I am in a chip-eating mood, I cook up some edamame and the craving goes away.
Fruit salad... yummy, yummy!
Nothing satisfies like a nice fruit salad. Fresh is always best but when a craving strikes you don't want to spend the time peeling and cutting up 10 different kinds of fruit.
Here's what I do. I keep cans of tropical fruit salad and fruit cocktail in my pantry. I pour the fruit (making sure it's the kind that is in its own juice) into a bowl, slice a banana or two, then add a handful of fresh blueberries, and a few almonds for crunch.
Now I have a big bowl of fruit salad for two or three nights of snacking! Frozen mixed fruit works great, too. Just defrost it ahead of time and do the same thing.
Feel free to use your imagination and add a little shredded coconut (just a touch) or a few fresh orange segments. It's your creation; do what you want!
Savor some sweet potato fries!
Take one or two sweet potatoes, scrub well, and cut into wedges. DON'T peel them. Put them in a bowl, add about a teaspoon of olive oil and toss to cover. Place on a cookie sheet, sprinkle lighly with sea salt and bake at 375 degrees for about 10-15 minutes, turning once.
This is a perfect way to ward off those late-night snack attacks. Got friends over? Figure on one potato per person.
Vanilla-licious: Make a cream dream "pie!"
This one takes a little preparation so plan ahead. Take your favorite 8-ounce vanilla yogurt and empty it into a slightly larger container with a lid. Mix in two tablespoons of Grape-Nuts cereal, cover and refrigerate for at least two hours.
When you are ready to eat it, gently fold in sliced fresh fruit if you wish. The cereal expands in the yogurt and it becomes rich, creamy and delicious.
Lemon yogurt is really delicious this way, too. You will think you are eating the most sinful dessert yet it's yogurt with a little added fiber!
Pick this: Pineapple with chocolate!
Okay so sometimes a gal's just got to have her chocolate. For my chocolate fix I take pineapple rings (fresh or canned) and place on waxed paper, then drizzle lightly with melted dark chocolate. before eating I refrigerate for about 10 minutes.
Healthy fruit and just enough chocolate to satisfy -- it's a match made in heaven.
Let's face it. There are times that we just don't want to snack on something that is even remotely good for us. We want Doritos or a hot fudge sundae... and nothing else will do.
Go ahead and have what you are craving. BUT, be sure to go right back to your healthier ways of eating. NEVER, EVER punish yourself.
Always treat yourself well and that nasty Snack Demon will be eating out of your hand in no time.
About Cynthia: I am a Certified Holistic Health and Nutritional Counselor. My company is Metamorphosis Consulting and I have been in private practice for over 10 years. I believe we can completely transform our lives by nourishing our bodies, our minds, and our spirits. It is my desire to help others achieve their health and nutritional goals, their personal goals, and to live the life they have always dreamed of. Learn more at www.truemetamorphosis.org and www.cyndaily.com