Why do you snack? The purpose of a snack is to provide a bridge between the larger meals of breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A healthy snack keeps your metabolism revving along and gives you that precious energy to focus and stay busy and active without losing steam throughout your day. Ideally, healthy snacks are like mini well balanced meals (not just a carb load) complete with protein, fiber, and a little fat. If you are in weight loss mode, focus on foods with fiber, as they are filling but usually low in calories, making a small snack go a long way in keeping you satisfied.
Realistically, do you think about the nutrition aspect of your snacks? Most often I do not! Snacks in my world typically have nothing to do with hunger and have everything to do with me having a craving. Even though I know better than to reach for food when I have a craving, if I’m being honest, I’m still human and I do it. We all do at one time or another. The important thing is not to let cravings take over and allow food to become a stronghold in your life.
Sometimes you need to give in to your cravings, and sometimes your cravings can signal something else is going on in your life – you have another need (spiritual, physical, relational, or occupational) besides food that you should address. So how do you tell the difference between a craving that you should satisfy and a craving that needs to be met in another way besides food? I’ve learned a couple of questions to ask myself that have helped me distinguish the difference.
First, when you have a craving, ask yourself “What type of food am I craving right now?” If the answer is salty or sweet, your body might be sending you a message that it needs something. This is the type of craving that you want to satisfy with a healthy snack.
A craving for something salty can mean your body needs valuable trace minerals. Table salt, which is used in most processed foods today, has been refined and stripped of minerals, so it’s almost pure sodium chloride. But sea salt is a good unrefined choice to satisfy your craving, as it’s chalked full of trace minerals like magnesium, calcium, potassium, sulfur, phosphorus, bromine, boron, zinc, iron, manganese, copper, and silicon. Choosing a snack seasoned with sea salt can satisfy this craving.
If you crave something sweet, your body is telling you that it needs energy. Before satisfying a sweet craving, make sure to evaluate your food choice so you don’t end up with another craving soon thereafter. Sugary, processed, wheat containing sweets offer little nutrients and break down really quickly in your digestive system, absorbing into your bloodstream at rapid speed. They spike your blood sugar and give you quick energy but then just as quickly as it shoots up, your blood sugar drops and you’re left with another sweet craving. Instead, choose sweet snacks that contain natural sugar like fruit or natural sweeteners like a little honey or maple syrup. And don’t forget the protein, fat, and fiber! Choose sweet snacks that are well balanced, so they give you lasting energy, as they satisfy your need for different types of nutrients. They are also broken down and absorbed at a slower pace, trickling into your bloodstream rather than flooding it, which keeps your sweet craving at bay longer.
The second question to ask yourself when you have a craving is “What do I really need right now?” Many times the answer is not food. Because you feel in your body and also put food into your body, without even realizing it, you can try to cope with your feelings by eating. Common emotions that lead to cravings are anger, frustration, anxiousness, boredom, loneliness, and needing comfort.
When you crave crunchy foods, you tend to be feeling frustrated or angry. There’s something about the noise and the act of chomping that eases those emotions.
When you crave something creamy, you may be needing comfort. Creamy foods are soothing and relaxing.
By asking yourself “What do I really need right now?”, you can examine the deeper root of the craving and appropriately satisfy it. Many cravings are tied to other areas of your life besides food. When you take time to make sure all of you is properly nourished – spiritual, physical, relational, occupational – you will find your cravings lessen and you are on the road to healthy snacking.
These barbeque zucchini chips are one example of a healthy snack choice, providing an energy boost with a naturally sweet food plus some needed nutrients to help you make it through your day. Pair them with a few nuts and seeds, a rolled up slice of turkey, a hard boiled egg, or a piece of smoked salmon to add a little protein.
To start, I made a simple barbecue spice blend with chili powder, sea salt, coconut sugar (maple sugar works well too), paprika, garlic, cumin, mustard, and black pepper.
Next, I cut three zucchinis into 1/8 inch slices.
Next, I preheated the oven to 300 degrees and placed the slices on parchment lined baking sheets. I sprayed a little olive oil over the slices with my olive oil mister and then sprinkled the barbecue spice blend on the zucchini slices and baked them for 40 minutes. I removed them from the oven and flipped the slices. Then I sprayed a little more olive oil on the other side and sprinkled on more of the spice blend. I baked them for about 20 more minutes, watching closely to make sure not to over bake. After 20 minutes, I removed several of the chips from the baking sheet that were good and crispy and returned the rest to the oven to bake for about 5 more minutes.
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1-2 tablespoon coconut sugar, to taste
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon mustard
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 3 zucchini
- olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
- To make a barbecue spice blend, combine chili powder, coconut sugar, sea salt, garlic, paprika, cumin, mustard, black pepper, and cayenne in a small bowl.
- Thinly slice the zucchinis into ⅛ inch slices.
- Mist the olive oil over the zucchini slices, sprinkle the spice blend over the zucchini slices, and bake for 40 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, flip the slices, mist a little olive oil on the other side, and sprinkle the splice blend over the other side too.
- Bake for 20 minutes more, watching closely not to overbake.