It’s quite possibly my favorite time of the day: snack time. One of the habits that I adopted early in 2012 was to implement an adult version of the after school snack. Beyond holding me over till dinner time, taking a short break from my otherwise busy day helps me focus and prepares me for the rush of after school homework, dinner and evening activities.
The primary purpose of my afternoon snack is to ward off any pre-dinner grazing. And since I’m not famished as I approach dinner time, it helps me to make better dinner choices. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: when I’m hungry, I make poor choices.
My snack always consists of four components: a serving of fruit, a serving of dairy, a small sweet treat and a cup of coffee (with a pinch of sugar and a splash of creamer).
In-season fruit is usually what’s on the snack menu. These days, my kitchen is stocked with:
- Minneolas (if you haven’t tried this citrus fruit, you should!)
- Fresh pineapple with a few frozen blueberries
My go-to dairy items are:
- Mini-Babybel Light (1P+) cheese round
- Low-fat cheese stick (1P+)
- Greek yogurt (1P+ for 113g) topped with 1 tsp. honey (1P+) or 1 tbs. fruit preserves (1P+)
- Shaved parmesan (1P+ for 10g)
- Low-fat cottage cheese (2P+ for 1/2 cup)
For the sweet treat, I almost always reach for a Fiber One Brownie bar (2P+). I do switch up the variety, at least!
The Fiber One Brownie varieties (all 2P+) that I rotate through:
- Chocolate Fudge
- Chocolate Peanut Butter
- Lemon Bar
- Chocolate Chip Cookie
- Cinnamon Coffee Cake
In addition to serving a functional purpose, snack time has also turned into a time for me to mentally regroup and set a plan for the remainder of the day. If the kids are home, I ask them to give me a few minutes of quiet in the kitchen. I cherish the time that it takes to brew my coffee, assemble my plate and enjoy the snack. As I’m finishing up, I usually take a moment to review the family calendar and think about how to navigate what lies ahead.
Who would have thought that a few minutes in the afternoon could do so much good?
Find it difficult to get fresh veggies on the table at dinnertime? When I’m in a pinch, I turn to flash-frozen veggies in microwavable steamer bags. Since they are microwaved in their packaging, they go from freezer to table in a matter of minutes!
I usually buy is Birds Eye Steamfresh. Their Pure & Simple line contains only one ingredient (the vegetable!). No added sauces, sodium or preservatives. Birds Eye and other companies do sell varieties with sauces, so check the nutrition label to be sure.
Frozen vegetables have their advantages over canned veggies. During the canning process, vegetables lose some of their nutritional content. Additionally, there are concerns about leaching from the metal can into the produce.
The steamer bags go on sale regularly. When they do, stock up! On a busy night, when you’re rushing to get dinner on the table, you’ll be happy that you did.
P.S. There’s currently a $1 off of two Steamfresh bags on Birds Eye’s website, under Coupon Corner.
Note: For Weight Watchers followers, frozen veggies have the same PointsPlus values as fresh produce. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, green beans, etc. have 0P+. Remember to count PointsPlus for peas, corn and edamame.
I’ve been having feelings of inadequacy lately. Not on a personal level necessarily. (Though I’ll always be a work in progress, I’m ok with that.) The feelings have been more of blog inadequacy.
Recently, while discussing a possible blog post with my husband, I confessed that it seemed like a trivial topic about which to write. So often, friends share earth-shattering, mind-altering blog posts. In comparison, my post ideas seem insignificant.
As my husband is so good at doing, he immediately pointed out that trivial *and* insignificant items are precisely how and why I’ve followed the path that I’m on. Large changes usually aren’t sustainable. It’s the long chain of small changes that when followed and added onto for days, weeks, months and years, lead to results.
If my posts seem trivial, know that it is now exactly what I’m striving to do… share small, manageable tips that will hopefully give you food for thought and will also help me reinforce my own lifestyle.
Though the expression is “slow and steady wins the race,” I prefer to think that, “slow and steady and small wins the race.”
Thanks for reading!
Don’t want to sit the bench at this weekend’s Super Bowl party? With this delicious (and easy!) Ranch veggie dip, you won’t need to.
Deceptively Delicious Veggie Dip
16 ounce tub of light sour cream
1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch Dips mix (Note: must be the Dips packet, see picture)
Mix the two together and VOILA!… amazingly delicious veggie dip.
Pair the dip with a heaping plate of your favorite veggies. My favorites are:
- Mini-sweet peppers
- Cherry tomatoes
- Fresh french green beans
- Baby carrots
- Salted cucumber slices
- Sliced mini-portabella mushrooms
- Celery sticks
Two tablespoons (30g) of Deceptively Delicious Veggie Dip is only 1 PointPlus for Weight Watchers followers. A whole 1/4 cup (4 TBS or 60g) is only 2P+! Along with a plate of fresh veggies, that’s a Super Bowl bargain, as far as I’m concerned!
Two quick tidbits – First, I tried substituting Greek yogurt for light sour cream and I didn’t care for the resulting texture, despite usually loving Greek yogurt. Secondly, in a pinch, I once bought a store brand light sour cream. Though store brands are often good quality, I could taste the difference. It would be my recommendation to purchase a name brand light sour cream. Personally, my favorite is Daisy Light Sour Cream.
Bread used to play a reoccurring role in my diet before I realized that it wasn’t worth the space in my food plan. For quite a while, I simply cut bread out of the equation. (One notable exception: Culver’s hamburger buns.)
Several months back, I discovered tortilla wraps. Specifically, I found Ole’s Xtreme Wellness! High Fiber Low Carb tortilla wraps. They are large, chewy, soft and have only 90 calories. For Weight Watchers followers, they are only 1 PointPlus!
They contain 5g of protein (which helps you feel full and stay full) and have a whopping 9g dietary fiber, as well as 15% of the daily recommended value of calcium and 40% of the daily recommended value of iron.
These tortillas are quite versatile. Over the coming weeks, I’ll post some of my favorite uses. One of them I’ve already written about: Light Alternative for Family Pizza Night.
If you’re not able to find this brand locally, ask your grocer to order them in (mine did!). They can also be ordered by the case from Amazon. They keep well in the refrigerator for several weeks and I’d love to hear if they can be frozen.
One word of caution. Not all tortillas are created equally. You must read the nutrition label, as tortillas and wraps can range in calories from 80 to 300. (Yikes!)
By switching out bread and bringing in tortillas, I’ve been able to save calories and carbs without losing satisfaction. Every now and then though, bread hits the spot. And when that’s the case, I go for it – in moderation!
YOU GO, GIRL!
Starting or trying a new type of exercise can be intimidating. Before going to the running store for the first time to be fitted for running shoes, I had a great deal of anxiety. It took me several days to get up the courage to walk in. When I began yoga, I “needed” a friend to come with me to help alleviate some of the feelings of inadequacy.
Little did I know, however, that the rest of the community of runners and the room of full of yogis weren’t there to judge my performance and I wasn’t there to make them feel superior. All of them were quietly cheering me on and willing me to succeed, and to join their seemingly exclusive club.
It turns out that seemingly exclusive club isn’t that exclusive after all. It only takes is a desire to join and commitment to try your best. So when you receive a smile or kind gesture from someone in a class or a passerby on the route, that’s our way of saying, “We’re glad you’re here. Keep up the good work.” And even if you don’t catch a smile or gesture, know that we’re ALL cheering you on the inside!
As for the lady who was in yoga class this morning, I don’t even know her name, but I asked if we could take a picture for my blog. Hopefully that didn’t scare her off. The exercise community is always looking for new members and showing up is often the hardest part!
Related reading: The next step can be sticking with an exercise until it’s to the point that you start to like it, as written about in “Do You Really Like Running?”