2 weeks ago

Derval O’Rourke Week 4: Smart Snacking

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Lately, do you find yourself constantly eating? Spending more time at home often leads to increased snacking, and in turn increased feelings of guilt. Olympian Derval O’Rourke and creator of healthy lifestyle platform Derval.ie, is on hand not to stop us snacking but to help us to snack smart and stay healthy …

Snacking can be a key part of your nutrition, but done incorrectly it can also be an area that has a negative impact on your overall diet. Members of my site Derval.ie tell me that snacking is the biggest area they want to improve.

During May and June the snacks section of my site was clicked on more than any other food resource. And I completely understand why! Snacks are an important part of a healthy balanced diet, but are an easy place to fall down and make less than ideal choices. I often find myself mindlessly snacking on bars of chocolate or a scone, when if I was a little more mindful and organised I could be fuelling myself far more efficiently. Don’t get me wrong I love the odd bar of chocolate but trying to eat more wholesome snacks genuinely makes me feel physically better.

Where possible I like to prepare snacks in advance. Sunday is a day I get a lot done and like to cook and bake for the week ahead. I make big batches and keep snack options in the freezer as well as in my fridge. If I make a batch of energy balls or a healthy bread, I’ll pop the balls or bread sliced into portions into the freezer.

To keep it simple I’ve pulled together my top 3 tips to help you supercharge your snacks:

1. Think about all your food in a day, not just your snacks. Aim for three balanced meals and two to three snacks each day. Remember though, a snack is not a meal and the portion size should reflect this. If you eat your main meals your snacks will be a great way to ‘top up’ these meals. Don’t skip meals and try to make up for it with snacks.

2. Aim to eat every three to four hours and include a protein source at each snack to keep blood sugar levels balanced. This will mean getting the layout of your day right and back to point 1, don’t skip meals!

3. Ensure you are properly hydrated, as we often mistake thirst for hunger. I have to remind myself to drink all the time. I try to sip on water throughout the day and to minimise my caffeine intake.

Zero-Prep Snacks:

We all have days when time is against us, and our weekly food prep might not have gone according to plan. It is therefore so important to also have some zero-prep snacks in the house that you can just grab and go. These snacks will help to energise your day.

Fresh/Dried fruit

A fantastic option packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Add a protein source if you can. For example I love apple slices with nut butter on top.

A few squares of dark chocolate

Great in the evening with a cup of mint tea to hit sweet cravings.
Aim for at least 70% cocoa for healthy antioxidants.

A handful of nuts

High in protein, healthy fats and fibre so great to satisfy your hunger.  Go for the unsalted versions. The combination of dark chocolate and nuts is very tasty!

Smoothies

A great option if you need something a bit more substantial. Adding a protein source makes it a smart nutritional choice and you can add some greens too for a real nutrient kick. I like to add spinach to smoothies.

Pot of natural yoghurt

Aim for no added sugar and sweeten with some honey or fruit if you fancy it. Add a handful of homemade granola or nuts for an even more filling snack.

Rice/oatcakes with nut butter and banana

These are great for a boost pre or post workout. I find these perfect mid-afternoon if I’m planning on doing some exercise after I finish work.

Recipe of the Week

I have over 300 simple and healthy recipes on Derval.ie, including a great Snacks section with lots of sweet and savoury options. Today I wanted to share with you one of the most popular recipes on the site – Peanut Butter Squares.

These are very filling so make sure to eat them in small portions! I find it’s easier to wean yourself off sugary snacks by baking something that will satisfy those cravings, which these absolutely do. They are perfect with a cup of coffee to beat the elevenses slump.

Prep time: 30 minutes
Makes: 1 loaf

Ingredients:
100g crunchy peanut butter
100g Honey
25g Coconut oil
50g peanuts, finely chopped
100g Rice Krispies
100g dates, soaked in hot water for 2 hours
100g smooth peanut butter
150g dark choc 80%, for the topping

Method:
1. Line an 8-inch square baking tin with parchment paper.
2. In a pot gently heat the peanut butter, honey and coconut oil until they form runny syrup. Do not boil or the mixture will burn.
3. In a bowl mix the Rice Krispies and chopped peanuts. Pour the heated syrup over the mix and stir until all the Rice Krispies are coated.
4. Transfer the mix to the lined baking tin and press down well.
5. To make the topping, strain the dates and transfer to a blender together with the remaining peanut butter and blitz until they form a soft caramel like texture. To make it easier to blend, add a little water to soften the texture of the dates.
6. With a spatula spread the caramel evenly over the top of the Rice Krispies base and top with layer of melted dark chocolate
7. Allow to cool in the fridge for 20 minutes before cutting into squares.
Want more recipes, fitness workouts or healthy living advise to snack on?! Visit Derval.ie and avail of a free 7-day trial.

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