This post was written by our fantastic dietetic intern Addison Ford.
If you are not familiar with the term “hangry,” I am sure you have either experienced it yourself of been on the receiving end of a hangry individual. Hangry = hungry + angry, when people wait too long in between meals or choose the wrong types of snacks their blood sugars can take a little dip and they can become hangry…so don’t poke the bear unless you have a high protein snack in hand!
According to a national survey, 90% of adults consume one or more snacks everyday. Furthermore nearly 25% of our calories are coming from snacks on average. Since snacking is such a large part of our food intake, we should really think of them as more of a mini-meal for which we should try to hit some or all of the five food groups, particularly protein (beans, nuts, and meat) and dairy.
Protein in foods help with satiety, meaning it helps make you feel fuller for a longer period of time. Protein takes longer for our body to digest, which causes a slower rise in our blood sugar, which is what we want. Think of it like long rolling hills as opposed to a snack that is high is refined carbohydrates, say a 100 calorie snack pack of crackers which are more like narrow mountains with a high peak. Now if you combine a snack pack with a string cheese you have the protein, and a little fat, from the cheese to help combat the spike in blood sugar…better yet have a string cheese and some carrot sticks or an apple for added fiber!
For snacks people should aim for about 150 to 300 calories and 5 to 15g of protein depending on your calorie needs and activity level. Some examples of good snack combinations are:
- Peanut butter (2 tablespoons) + 3 stalks of celery + 20 raisins = 260 calories & 13g protein
- Red Pepper Cashew Dip, to make see recipe below (2 tablespoons) + 5 woven whole wheat crackers = 210 calories & 6g protein
- String cheese + 1 cup cucumber = 95 calories & 6.5g protein
- Plain Non-fat Greek yogurt (6oz) + 1 cup strawberry halves = 150 calories & 18g protein
- Whole almonds (20 nuts) + medium apple = 270 calories & 7g protein
- Hummus (1/4 cup) + 15 baby carrots = 175 calories + 5g protein
- Low-fat cottage cheese (1/2 cup) + 1 cup fresh or canned peaches (packed in juice) = 200 calories & 15g protein
- Hardboiled egg + whole wheat toast = 160 calories & 10g protein
These are some tried and true healthy, protein heavy snack standbys, for some more creative and tasty recipes, check out ShopWell’s Pinterest page.
Red Pepper Cashew Dip
- 16 ounce bag of raw cashew pieces
- 2 cups red bell peppers (approximately 1 large pepper), chopped
- 1/3 to ½ cup lemon juice (depending on how thick or thin you like the dip, approximately 1 to 2 large lemons)
- 2 medium sized garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- Salt to taste (~1/4 tsp to ½ tsp usually does the trick)
Add all ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth - this takes about 1 to 2 minutes. Stop blending halfway through and scrape the sides of the bowl down. Add a sprinkle of cayenne pepper for an added kick! Use as a dip, add to salads or sandwiches…heck you could put it on a shoe and I would probably eat it!
Addison Ford is a Dietetic Intern, soon to be RD, who holds a Master’s Degree in Nutritional Biology and Public Health. She wants to help people make small, incremental changes to their everyday routine to achieve better health and has a passion for introducing people to simple, healthy (not to mention tasty!) recipes.