Eating the right food to fuel your brain is vital, yet most of us opt for the sugar-induced snacks that are lingering in front of us on the feeding table or a tasty chocolate bar from the corner shop. Although they will give you a quick boost, you’ll soon drop back down an hour or two after and feel lethargic. Proper nutrition is crucial in terms of your overall health and efficiency in the workplace. "High fat and high sugar foods take more work to digest. Chocolate and sweets cause sugar to spike in your bloodstream then crash, and you also may have an upset stomach. Who can be productive with all of this going on?" says Lisa De Fazio, a healthy lifestyle expert and registered dietitian.
Whether you work in an office, retail, a salon or on the road there’s no excuse for bad eating habits. Read on to find 25 super-easy snack ideas that will change your life:
1. Roast Chickpeas
There’s more to chickpeas than hummus you know! For a healthy snack that you can even share at work, roast some chickpeas in the over with a touch of oil and spices of your choice. Some favourite options are cayenne pepper, cinnamon and cumin.
2. Oatmeal Cakes
One of my personal preferences for the office is oatmeal cakes. You can be so adventurous with organic rolled oats by adding cinnamon and apple, or peanut butter and seeds. For a sweet kick combine the oats with dark chocolate chip pieces.
Recipe: 40g plain porridge oats, 1 tsp sweetener, 1 tablespoon Greek yoghurt, ½ spoon baking powder and the ingredients of your choice.
Method: Bake in a fan oven at 200°C until the oatcakes are golden brown. Use a silicon or muffin tray. (around 20 minutes)
3. Energy Balls
The new health craze has taken the internet by storm. There are so many variations of energy balls, but a quick and easy recipe is by Joe Wick’s; the famous Instagram entrepreneur created a healthy snack that you can take to work and wow your colleagues with. Bear in mind that this snack is designed to replace an unhealthy chocolate bar, and shouldn’t be consumed on a daily basis, or in large amounts.
4. Dried Fruits
Dates, raisins, apricots, mango and goji berries are a few of the fruits that you can enjoy at work. These snacks are sweet, chewy, high in fibre and potassium and can be kept at work in your office draw for weeks, ready for an emergency snack.
5. Kale Chips
Kale chips are a good alternative to fatty potato crisps and are a breeze to make. Unlike regular chips, these come with the added benefits of giving you over 40 percent of your daily value of vitamin A and C.
Recipe: 2 cups kale leaves coated with 1 tbsp olive oil and spices of your choice. A good option is salt and paprika.
Method: Bake in a fan oven at 180°C for 10 minutes.
6. Cheddar and Leek Muffins
Sometimes we simply crave something a bit more substantial than a handful of nuts, especially in the colder months. These healthy cheddar and leek muffins are perfect for those instances when you want to resist eating a buttery croissant or a Danish.
7. Sweet Potatoe Chips
If you are really craving some kind of crisps, why not bake your own healthy version? Sweet potatoes are much more nutritious than regular potatoes. This does require some preparation as they take 2 hours to cook in the over.
Recipe: 2 organic sweet potatoes (150 g each), 2 Tbsp (30 ml) olive oil optional: 1/4 tsp sea salt, chilli and paprika
Method: Bake in an oven at 250°C for 2 hours – ensure you toss the chips frequently.
8. Cauliflower Hummus
For a healthier hummus option, add some cauliflower into the mix. With this delicious recipe, you’ll forget that you’re even eating a vegetable.
9. Dark Chocolate
Yes, that’s right! Chocolate actually has healthy benefits. Cocoa contains antioxidants called polyphenols which can help increase blood flow to your brain, improving your memory. Ensure the chocolate you opt for has over 75% cocoa in it.
10. Cocoa Milk
Another option for the chocolate lovers is cocoa milk. Don’t choose the packaged stuff you can find in supermarkets as they are filled with reserved sugars. Instead make your own cup of sweetness with warm milk, 1 tspn of cocoa powder and ¼ tspn of stevia. You can thank us later!
11. Trail Mix
Can't decide between work snack options? Toss several of them (like dried fruits, seeds, nuts, and even dark chocolate chips) into a DIY trail mix and portion it out into 30g serving sizes and take small zipper bag with you each day.
12. Nut Butter
When you are trying to fight the hunger at work, nut butter is a good option; you can smother this on a plain rice-cake, apple slices or simply eat it out of the jar. According to De Fazio “Almond, peanut and cashew butter provides healthy monounsaturated fat and protein, which stabilizes blood sugar ups and downs. This snack is so tasty and satisfying and will hold you over for a few hours.”
13. Whole-wheat Crisp Bread
Multi-grain crackers are rich in nutrients and fibre; they are a good swap for a digestive biscuit. The combination of complex carbs and protein help to keep your blood sugar stable and keep you feeling full longer.
14. KIND Bar
If you're having a sweet attack and are looking for a healthy "bar" that isn't loaded with sugar, reach for one that is all natural. KIND bars are good sources of fibre, contain no added sugar, and are made from whole, natural ingredients like dates, almonds, cashews, and cranberries. These bars are rich in fibre, low in sodium, loaded with vitamins and minerals, and run around 200 calories per serving. You can keep these easy to store bars in your car, bag or desk drawer.
Hard-boiled eggs make for the perfect healthy snack. High in protein and only around eighty calories per egg, they will keep you full whilst feeding your body with essential vitamins and minerals. For a twist spread some hummus over your egg.
16. Cheese Blocks
Many think of cheese as an unhealthy fat, but in moderation, it can actually be good for you as it’s packed with protein. Lucky for us, supermarkets now sell bite-sized cheeses. Shove one in your bag or cool-box and snack on a block when you’re feeling hungry.
To spruce up your veggies, add them in a jar with some hummus at the bottom. The jar is spill free and easy to carry.
18. Dry Cereal or Granola
The brain draws nearly all its energy from glucose; it’s best to consume low glycemic index foods like bran flakes, which will release glucose at a slow rate in the bloodstream and minimize blood sugar swings which in turn will make you more focused.
19. Rice Cakes
Rice Cakes are ideal to keep at work for a rainy day; they are low in calories and come in so many flavours. If you fancy something sweet you can opt for a caramel Snack a Jack, or salt and vinegar for something savoury.
Pretzels are the ideal snack to share at work. They are low in fat and give you some carbs so you can hold out until lunchtime.
21. Wasabi Peas
They are perfect for satisfying salty and spicy cravings and are packed with protein and fibres which will keep you energized and prevent your blood sugar from dropping. Be careful on the portion size, although small, they have high-calorie content.
22. Edamame Beans
Edamame bean are a perfect snack for vegetarians who are looking for a high protein snack. Add some lemon and chilli to boost your metabolism whilst munching away on this moreish snack.
23. Protein Bites
No baking is required for this tasty protein bites. With only four ingredients you can create a quick-fix treat including nut butter, oats, dark chocolate chips and honey. What’s better than getting fibre and antioxidants from these cookie-like treats?
Recipe: 1 1/2 tbsp nut butter, 3 tbsp oats, 1/2 tbsp honey, 1/2 tbsp dark chocolate chips, rolled into balls.
24. Soup Packets
Any kind of soup packet is handy to keep in your draw as a safety net. In the winter it’s a great option to keep you going until lunch or dinner. Make sure you check the calorie and saturated fat content to ensure its under 200 calories and 2g in saturated fat.
When it’s not drenched in butter or salt and sugar, popcorn can actually be a really healthy snack. The airy treat is easy to make; add kernels to a bowl in the microwave and cover with cling film. Once your corn has popped add salt, spices or cheese to give some flavour.
To reap the full benefits of your new found health-kick make sure that you time your snacks and meal plans so you are receiving all the nutrients you need to keep your mind and body happy and healthy.
What are some of your favourite healthy brain food snacks? If you have a snack tip to share, we’d love to hear from you in the comments section.