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Learning Healthy Snacking Habits

This unofficially goes with my series, if you will, on “How to Lose Weight While Obese and In Pain“. While I haven’t yet started writing about my “diet”, I have started to change the way I eat. This actually started a bit before I even  joined a gym.

I started working at my current job a little over a year ago. One thing about this place, they always have food. Once a week someone brings in goodies for the whole office, which usually consists of bagels or donuts from a nearby bakery. Occasionally someone gets either creative or lazy and stockpiles cookies, muffins, or other goodies from a grocery store. Once in a blue moon, someone brings fruit. (It’s usually the last thing to be eaten.)

Even on other days, people will bring bags of chips, $5 containers of some 50 or so cookies, candies, anything that they feel like bringing. Sometimes it’s someone being generous, other times it’s to share something that others haven’t likely tried, other times it’s…because it’s been sitting around their house too long. *Cringe*

Regardless of what or why, it eventually gets eaten.

Naturally, that also means that temptation is lurking around constantly when I am at work. It’s bad enough to walk into a store or restaurant and not grab something I know I shouldn’t, but when it’s around me 8 hours a day… Sheesh!

To make matters worse, I have a slight oral fixation where I always like having something to chew or crunch on (meaning having “a handful” of something doesn’t always work for me). If only ice wasn’t bad for your teeth!

Snack 1: Sunflower Seeds

One day, I bought a bag of sunflower seeds on a whim, for no other reason except that I like them. What I didn’t expect was to figure out just how well sunflower seeds worked as a snack for me.

I have this eating theory – basically if you had all your day’s food in front of you somehow (excluding temperature, storage and convenience issues), you could technically eat it however you wanted, at whatever times you wanted. Right? Using the calories in, calories out way of thinking, you could measure out 2,000 or so calories and you could spend the entire day eating if you so chose. At the end of the day, it would still be the same number of calories.

Well, I feel the same goes with a serving of sunflower seeds.

An approximate serving of sunflower seeds is a few tablespoons or, about 1/4 cup. In a 1/4 cup serving, there are around 170 calories (and lots of nutrients). Now, I could toss them all in my mouth in a few pinches and be done with it. But that’s not the way I eat! I play with my food! Wait, I mean… I… No, I guess I did mean that.

This may sound a little OCD but I loved to take a single (hulled) sunflower seed, bite off the pointy edge, pull the skin off of it with my teeth, separate the two halves, and then eat it like that.

Now, imagine doing that for almost every single seed in a quarter cup and you will understand why I sometimes couldn’t even finish 1 serving of sunflower seeds in a whole, 8 hour workday.

What’s that got to do with the office snacks, you may wonder? Simple. My mouth was so busy pulling apart individual sunflower seeds that I didn’t care so much about the cookies, chips or other things that might be available. Yes, I still gave in at times, but on the whole, I was much less susceptible.

Should I have just exercised more discipline, instead of creating a substitution? Sure. But it’s more important to me to not be so tempted than to pretend that I have more discipline than I really do.

So what’s another way to make the most of my snacks?

Making snacks out of things that typically aren’t!

Snack 2: Roasted Chickpeas

Beans, beans, the musical fruit… The more you eat, the more you… Have difficulty finding new and exciting ways to prepare them?

Outside of chili, I’m not a big fan of beans. OK, maybe chili and split pea with ham. Navy beans with ham. White beans with ham. I guess that means (insert bean here) and ham, eh? That, and mushed into a paste mixed with far too much sugar and rolled into a mochi. Anyway, I know they are super good for you, high in fiber and other nutrients, and everyone should eat more of them.

But they are just so mushy! I don’t like the texture of them at all, except as stated above.

Insert garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas). These are mushed into a paste and turned into hummus, which is delightful, but otherwise they too are still just a bean.

Or are they???

Roasted Chickpeas to the rescue!

I found a recipe (or several) for roasted chickpeas and got intrigued. It is one of the simplest recipes ever.

  • 1 can chickpeas/garbanzo beans (low sodium or no added salt is best)
  • A drizzle of olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste
  • Other seasonings to taste

Now for the complicated cooking methods!

  1. Open the can.
  2. Strain beans.
  3. Rinse beans to get rid of the starchy can water.
  4. Dry beans thoroughly (either by draining or with paper towel).
  5. Place beans in a single layer on a cookie sheet.
  6. Toss in olive oil and seasonings.
  7. Bake at 400F for 30-40 minutes (mine took about 35).
  8. Let cool and store at room temperature.

You can add more seasoning after they are done if you want. These can be made sweet, spicy, salty, herby, whatever you want them to be. They still taste a little like a garbanzo bean, and I suspect that beans not from a can would be even milder, but for the most part they no longer look or taste like a bean.

Actually, from a distance, they look to me like Reese’s Puffs cereal.

That said, this is a high fiber snack with a crunch similar to one of the generic Corn Nuts knockoffs.

Another amazing, high fiber snack with technically less preparation and no cook time?

Snack 3: Jicama

If you’ve never tried jicama (also called yambean or Mexican yam), it looks like a piece of raw potato, but it has a mild sweetness and a crisp bite similar to a water chestnut.

It’s also low in calories, high in fiber, and has a low glycemic load. It’s a great, crunchy and tasty vegetable to “mindlessly” snack on.

No preparation is needed other than to slice off the outer skin. Only the white inside is to be eaten. Apparently the skin is toxic.

So there you have it – 3 of my current favorite snacks that don’t require any dips to be great and only one requires refrigeration. Obviously carrot sticks or baby carrots and celery sticks are also great, sugar snap peas, etc. But these are the crunchy, simple snacks that I can just grab a bag of and start munching.

What about you? What sort of simple and healthy snacks do you munch on? What helps you steer clear of temptation? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Insanely Easy Cream Cheese Mints Recipe

This Christmas, I made some cream cheese mints – something I haven’t made in several years. I have a friend who really loves them so I thought I would give myself a refresher on them.

I originally got the recipe from a little booth at The Fair that sells rubber candy molds. Sadly, I didn’t see that booth this year but the recipe is easy enough and they don’t have to look pretty to taste good. 😉

Cream Cheese Mints:

  • 1 lb box of powdered sugar
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp flavoring (more or less based on the potency of the flavor you choose)
  • Few drops of food coloring (optional)
  • Granulated Sugar

Blend the cream cheese, coloring, and flavoring with sugar – adding the sugar slowly.

After blending about half the sugar, knead the rest of it in by hand. It should be almost Play-Doh consistency, though it may feel a bit sticky.

Scoop out portions and roll into balls with your hands. Flatten or press into molds. Roll/cover in granulated sugar.

Refrigerate and let dry (about an hour).

Half teaspoon size balls makes approximately 75-100 mints. (some of my scoops were a little generous, a few fell on the floor, and a few fell in my mouth. ;] )

This is a super forgiving, easy recipe that is great to make with kids. They will dry nicely without refrigeration but they are almost like ice cream when cold. 🙂

When I made a batch recently, I used 1/8th tsp vanilla flavoring with 1/8th tsp peppermint extract. Stronger flavors, such as almond or peppermint extract, you can use less. In my own batch, you can clearly taste the mint but the vanilla is almost indiscernible.

Enjoy!!

A Super Easy Pumpkin Eggnog Recipe (Really, More of an Idea)

If this isn’t your first time, I know, I know, where the heck have I been? How terribly unprofessional of me to disappear virtually without a trace and not return at the time I initially indicated! I’m sorry, I really am. I’ve been back for awhile now but haven’t written anything for some time due to a variety of reasons *cough*excuses*cough*.

I can’t promise I’m back to my every 3-4 days posting schedule, but I have TONS to write about and new (better) photos to share and… I just sort of missed blogging.

Oh, and if this IS your first time reading my blog, or you haven’t been here in a very long while – welcome! Ignore all that stuff above. Let’s be on our merry way now, shall we? 😉

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