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It's mid-afternoon and your energy is beginning to flag. Visions of a refreshing soft-serve ice cream cone flash before your eyes. A double mocha latte pumped full of sugar seems like the perfect solution to help you get through the pile of work on your desk. You need a little pick-me-up but what can you choose that won't turn into love handles the minute it hits your palate?
Believe it or not, you can snack during the day without risking too many excess calories and unwanted pounds. If you think before you eat and plan ahead, you can stock your pantry with healthy snacks that will quiet your grumbling stomach and boost your energy without ruining your diet. Remember to avoid snacks after dinner when you are less likely to burn off calories. In addition, small portions eaten at regular intervals throughout the day are a healthier way to maintain your energy and your weight. These five snack ideas can help you enjoy a small nibble without any guilt about eating between meals.
Snacks with protein will stay with you longer and can offer you lean calories, flavor and the energy you need to keep on task. Try a cup of yogurt with fruit to provide you with a healthy snack that provides extra calcium for healthy bones. Use Greek yogurt for additional protein and lower carbohydrates. If you don't like yogurt, use cottage cheese instead. Look for products that have live pro-biotic cultures to keep your insides healthy. Add blueberries, pomegranate or another fruit high in antioxidants and your snack will pack a powerful punch.
Delicious and Nutritious
Even snacks that are good for you can seem decadent. Melt dark chocolate and coat chunks of banana. Insert a popsicle stick into each chunk and place the fruit on a cookie sheet and pop it into the freezer. Within a few hours, you have a sweet, nutritious snack packed with antioxidants, potassium and other energizing boosts for your body.
Hit The Trail
Trail mix, or gorp as it is sometimes called, is a reliable snack for hikers, backpackers and anyone who is on the go. You don't have to be hitting the trail to enjoy this protein-packed snack. Make a batch of trail mix and keep it in the cupboard. Take a small container with you to work or keep a bowl on your desk at home to calm your hunger pangs. If you eat trail mix in healthy amounts, you can supply your body with great fiber, protein and vitamins without consuming unhealthy fats and extreme calories. Try a mix of pumpkin seeds, almonds or peanuts with dried cranberries or cherries, dried dates and dark chocolate chips.
Frozen and Fruity
When the temperature rises, nothing is more satisfying and energizing than a cold snack. Try freezing pieces of your favorite fruits to have on hand when you feel the urge for an afternoon bite. Grapes and strawberries or chunks of mango or pineapple are easy to prepare and can be particularly refreshing. Blend a combination of fruits and pour the concoction into ice cube trays to create your own all fruit mini-popsicles.
South Of The Border
Do you crave something crunchy? Chips of all kinds are usually full of unhealthy oils and fats. You can make your own flavorful tortilla chips and avoid a lot of unwanted calories. Take corn tortillas and brush them with lime juice and salt or a dash of cumin. Cut the tortillas into six or eight triangles and place them on a baking sheet. Bake them at 375 degrees for 15 minutes or until crisp. Make your own fat-free salsa by chopping fresh tomatoes, onion, garlic and cilantro. Add lime and salt and you are ready to dip without guilt.