Healthy Energy Bars

box of key lime pie LarabarsI often keep an energy bar in my purse in case I am out longer than I expect to be. Yesterday my appointment went an hour longer than I thought it would and I was very hungry when I left. I saw fast food restaurants but nowhere nearby that had quick healthy food, so I ate the energy bar I had with me. Having a snack with me decreases the times that I eat food that I wish I shouldn’t have eaten. The energy bars I eat have good ingredients in them, test healthy for me, and are flavourful.

I like the taste and ingredients in Larabars (sweetened with only dates except for the chocolate chips in some bars), Taste of Nature bars (sweetened with agave), and Honeybars (sweetened with honey). I avoid bars with white sugar, artificial sweeteners, or chemicals in them. I choose bars that are sweetened with dates, brown rice syrup, agave syrup or honey. I used to love Kind bars, but unfortunately they changed the formula and they now have sugar as one of their sweeteners.

You can make your own healthy energy bars at home, which allows you to choose only ingredients you like, but I usually choose the convenience of buying bars that someone else has made.

I buy Taste of Nature bars at Costco or Nature’s Fare, Honeybars at IGA, and Larabars in Washington State. I like the lemon, lime and cherry flavours of Larabars and those are no longer available in Canada (please let me know if you see them in Canada and I’ll update this post!)

Quick Healthy Snacks

Here are some more ideas for healthier snacks:

  • unsalted nuts (buy in Costco or the bulk section of the grocery store)
  • Wasa rye crisp crackers with sundried tomato hummus
  • Carrot sticks, celery, cucumber, red pepper, cauliflower; with dip or hummus
  • hard-boiled (organic) egg with dash of sea salt
  • pre-cut cantaloupe or pineapple
  • unsweetened applesauce (available in a jar or in small cups; berry and mango flavours too)
  • raspberries
  • panda licorice (sweetened with licorice root and molasses, not sugar)
  • homemade dried fruit and nut mix (use unsweetened, unsulphered fruit and raw nuts)
  • plain yogurt topped with berries (fresh or thawed from frozen)

Bean Quesadillas for Kids and Adults

rice tortillas recipeWhen my older daughter was on an anti-Candida diet to clear up some health problems, I needed to get creative to find foods she could take to school to eat and that she was willing to eat.  To improve her health she was temporarily avoiding wheat, corn, dairy, ham, beef, white sugar, food colouring and other foods.  The school does not allow peanuts or nuts because some kids in the school have severe allergies.  One of the meals she liked (and still likes) is bean and cheese quesadillas.

Ingredients:

1 rice tortilla, thawed (either in the fridge, or on the frying pan before the oil is added)
grated  cheese (dairy cheese, goat cheese or non-dairy cheese)
canned Romano beans (drained and rinsed)
cilantro (optional – my daughter didn’t want it)
dash cumin (optional)

Heat frying pan on medium.  Drizzle a bit of olive oil on the hot pan.  Add thawed rice tortilla.  Spoon beans onto one side and top with grated cheese.  If desired, add cumin and/or cilantro.  Fold tortilla in half over beans and cheese.  Squish down with potato masher or frying pan flipper.  Wait until it browns, then flip over.  Remove when both sides are lightly browned and crisp.  Cut into three triangles and enjoy!

Frozen Bananas

bananaAn easy, healthy and creamy frozen treat that we like is a frozen banana. 

Peel bananas that are yellow but not yet spotted
Break or cut the bananas in half
Stick a popsicle stick or chopstick into the broken half and push it into the banana
Wrap the bananas with plastic wrap
Put several bananas in plastic bags with the sticks sticking out to minimize freezer burn
Wait a few hours until they are frozen.

Remove from plastic bags/wrap and eat!

Grapefruit as a healthy snack

red grapefruit slices
red grapefruit slices

I love to have a grapefruit when I’m in the mood for something juicy and filling.  I usually buy the red or pink grapefruit varieties because I want it to be a bit sweet without adding anything to it.  I either peel it like an orange and eat the sections or I cut it in wedges.  It is a great late morning or early afternoon snack.

Grapefruits are a good source of Vitamin C, and the red and pink varieties have a lot of Vitamin A. They also contain folic acid and potassium. The white pith under the skin is a bit bitter, but is rich in bioflavinoids.

Studies show grapefruit interacts with calcium channel blockers, cholesterol-lowering drugs and Zoloft so learn more before eating grapefruit if you are taking these.

Amount of protein to keep blood sugar steady

proteinI have blood sugar “issues”, and that means that for me, getting protein throughout the day is very important.  Health Canada recommends a daily protein intake of 0.8g x your body weight in kg.  Since most of us still weigh ourselves in pounds, the translation is 0.36g x your body weight in lbs.  Another website suggests this should be based on our “ideal weight”.  For example, if your ideal weight is

  • 120lbs: 43g of protein per day
  • 140lbs: 50g of protein per day
  • 160lbs: 58g of protein per day

These amounts are a general guideline, and vary depending on your body type, your metabolism, and the amount of muscle-building exercise you are doing.  Your protein needs increase if you are pregnant. 

Often we get too much protein at dinner and not enough during the rest of the day.  If you feel hungry not long after eating or if you find that you are drawn to sweet things and breads, consider adding some protein to your breakfast and lunch.

Suggestions:

  • raw nuts (4-6g protein for a handful)
  • add seeds onto salads (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame)
  • add goat cheese to salads or wraps
  • two organic eggs – scrambled or hard-boiled (12g)
  • add 1/2 can salmon to salad or make into sandwich (11g)
  • Amy’s lentil soup (8g)
  • 1 cup plain yogurt sweetened with berries or juice (13g)
  • beans, sprouted lentils, peanut butter, chicken, shrimp…

Blackberry banana shake

blackberries
My kids and I love fruit shakes.  They are cold and yummy.  This shake has lots of vitamin C, anti-oxidants and good bacteria (from yogurt).

1 cup blackberries
1 banana, peeled
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup berry juice

Add the above to blender and whirr until completely mixed.  If you don’t like the seeds from the blackberries, use blueberries or raspberries instead.