If you are a regular desk worker, chances are that your sedentary lifestyle may have added a few unwanted pounds. While you may stick a wholesome breakfast, a healthy home-packed lunch and some regular exercise, the culprit behind the unwanted pounds may be the office snacks. If you head towards the vending machine for a bag of snacks or that sugary yoghurt than stop - it's time you packed snacks from home. Healthy snacks can give you the energy needed to combat the post afternoon slump, keep you in shape and give your brain a much-needed boost. Here are some easy office snack ideas that you can change to suit your palate and keep yourself healthy.
Chip and Dips
You have to cheat a little here and substitute fried for baked or roasted, refined for whole-wheat or multi-grain and even the yummy mayo dips for healthy homemade alternatives.
- Hummus with raw veggies like carrots, cucumber, tomatoes, celery and red or yellow peppers is super healthy and packed with nutrients. It also gives you that satisfying crunch. Hummus is a great source of dietary fiber and even if you use a store-bought version, it is still packed with the cholesterol-reducing power of chickpeas. You can also get homemade pita or low-fat pita chips to add some carb power.
- You cannot get more Scottish than bannocks, or oatcakes as we call them. And if you want to eat them healthy, skip the mayo or sour cream and opt for one teaspoon each of peanut butter and jelly or jam with it. Oatcakes with PB&J!
- Rice cakes with a mashed banana, drizzled with honey - you get the crunch, munch and the sweet, but it’s still very healthy!
Nuts are great but you can 'go seeds' too!
- Carry a bag of pre-measured and pre-mixed nuts with you – go high on the almonds, raisins and walnuts, but keep the cashews to a minimum to keep the fat content low. You can also add in some dried kiwis, apples or apricots for added benefit.
- Sunflower, flax and pumpkin seeds are known to have a high glycemic index like nuts – so when you eat some, they release energy slowly, leaving you fuller for longer. And you can also add a dash of paprika to the mix – some studies claim that adding chilli to seeds boosts your metabolism.
- Dates are also a great low-fat nutrient rich option – you can take a few dates with a little gouda cheese for a burst of flavor that will keep you full and happy for a while.
High Ho the Dairy-O
Dairy proteins are often painted all black for a diet-watcher – but skimmed or toned dairy is often an asset.
- A small tub of low-fat or fat-free yoghurt is the ultimate snack. A great source of calcium and protein, you can choose to dress up plain yoghurt with some fruits like a mashed banana, chopped apples or pears, mango puree or even pomegranate.
- Milk, especially low-fat milk, is a great snack and gives you a great calcium boost. You can choose to keep small cartons of milk or soy milk (some cheating on dairy is okay!), get a skinny latte or even opt for a mug of hot chocolate but with skimmed milk and an artificial sweetener.
- Cottage cheese is a rather humble and the most non-processed of all cheeses. It makes for a great munch, raw or even heated a little. It’s non-runny, or too hard and quite a healthy mouthful.
And some for the Meat Lovers!
Some of us need our hourly meat fix – so here’s how to go non-vegetarian, the lean way.
- Hard-boiled eggs are a super source of many nutrients and the good kind of cholesterol your body needs. You can cook up a batch on a weekend to last you through the coming work week.
- Fancy a quick sandwich? Just use two wholewheat crackers, a slice of low fat cheese and some chunks of low-fat deli meat packed in brine.
- Leftover chicken or turkey can be used to make a salad snack – just roughly chop up tomatoes, lettuce or salad leaves, throw in a handful of nuts and add in that leftover chicken from last night. Yummy and definitely healthy!
Odds and Ends
And here are some other ideas that don’t fit into any of the above categories but are still great snack options.
- Too much of microwave popcorn may be bad for you, but surely a low-fat pack now and then make for a great snack.
- Fruits make for a great and rather undervalued snack. Carry a different one every day and then you have a variety of snacks just waiting to be explored. And what’s more, along with all of nature’s goodness – you get to change the pickings with the seasons!
- Puffed rice is another great alternative as are roasted lentils, chickpeas and other such grains. Try looking for them at an Indian store if your local market doesn’t stock them.
Plenty ideas for the health-conscious worker, unless the office desk turns you into a couch potato…