Working life usually involves long hours sitting at a desk or rushing around for meetings. Most people get hungry between breakfast and lunch, or between lunch and the end of the working day and while it’s all too easy to hit the vending machine or to grab some biscuits on a tea break, if you plan ahead, it’s easier than you think to nibble on healthy snacks during the day.
Health and copy editor Kate Mason chats to top nutritionist Hannah Kaye (Hannahkaye.co.za), who advises her top 10 healthy, low-calorie and portable foods to snack on at the office to keep energy levels sustained and feel good about your waistline.
Research has shown time and time again that eating almonds can help you lose weight. The heart-healthy monounsaturated fats found in these wonder nuts have the same health-promoting fats as those found in olive oil – they not only keep you fuller for longer but also have positive effects on other markers of metabolic health. Almonds are also high in fibre and rich in vitamin E, magnesium and potassium. Ten almonds is the perfect snack to keep energy levels sustained.
2. Kale chips
Considered the king of the dark leafy greens, curly kale is particularly high in iron and vitamin K. Not only does eating kale lower your risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease and inflammation in the body, it also provides comprehensive detoxification support thanks to its powerful antioxidants.
Not keen on steamed kale? Try the new Lemon & Herb Kale Chips from Wellness Warehouse as a tasty afternoon snack.
3. Home-made trail mix
Trail mix is a great option for providing your body with the calories and nutrients necessary to keep your energy up, so try combining different seeds and nuts to ensure a range of different minerals for cognitive performance. Go for raw options like almonds, brazil and cashew nuts and toss in some heart-protecting pumpkin and sunflower seeds, containing lots of omega-3 fatty acids. Add raisins for natural sweetness or dark chocolate pieces for a dose of antioxidants, and keep a small trail-mix pack in your handbag when you are on the go.
4. Grain-free granola bars
Avoid store-bough, high-calorie granola bars, which are usually packed with sugar that just spike insulin levels and then make you crash. Make your own at home with different nuts, anti-inflammatory coconut and a dollop of natural honey and take them into work in a Tupperware box. They’ll taste delicious with your mid-morning cuppa and also provide you with a myriad of health benefits
Dynamite comes in small packages where blueberries are concerned. This superfruit contains anthocyanins (that give them their blue hue), which attack cancer-causing free radicals, and is extremely high in antioxidants thought to reverse age-related memory loss. Add this little brain food to a morning smoothie or keep a bowel of them on your desk to nibble on throughout the day.
6. Hummus with vegetables
Aside from being high in fibre, hummus’ main ingredient, chickpeas, also contain very high levels of manganese, which is an essential mineral for energy production. Team them up with a selection of colourful vegetables like red pepper slices, celery sticks and baby carrots and you have a no-fuss, nutrient-dense superfood afternoon snack.
7. Plain yoghurt
Yoghurt with live and active cultures is beneficial for gastrointestinal health, particularly for those people who suffer from constipation, as the probiotics in your digestive tract help eliminate harmful microorganisms that cause intestinal infection. Yoghurt is also great for your waistline, as it also contains power-boosting protein amino acids, which help to burn fat, and bone-building calcium, which can reduce the levels of stress hormone cortisol in the body. One serving of yoghurt will up your levels of potassium, phosphorous, riboflavin, iodine, zinc, vitamin B5 and B12. Not all yoghurt is created equal though – ensure yours is sugar and flavour free. Spoon some yoghurt into a bowl and add some seeds, blueberries and organic honey for a healthy sweet treat.
8. Free-range biltong
Dried beef is a high-protein, iron-rich snack that’s long been a staple in the South Africa diet, with less fat than droewors. If you tend to crave salty snacks and are trying to stick to a low-carb or high-protein diet, this is a great option for keeping in your desk drawer as a savoury alternative to unhealthy crisps.
While most fruit consists primarily of carbohydrates, the humble avocado is high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, has many anti-inflammatory benefits and is rich in 20 different vitamins and minerals including vitamin E, which is great for skin health. Avos are loaded with fibre and antioxidants and help to lower cholesterol and the risk of cancer. Cut a small avo in half and drizzle a little lemon juice or balsalmic vinegar for a delicious light bite.
10. Oat cakes with tahini
If you didn’t have time to eat a decent lunch, keep some oatcakes and tahini at work to curb an afternoon energy dip. Oatcakes are low in fat but rich in low-GI carbohydrates and soluble fibre, providing a slow release of sugar into the blood that can help keep you feeling fuller for longer. A paste made from ground sesame seeds, Tahini is rich in protein, minerals – notably calcium and methionine, which aids in liver detoxification. High in fibre and protein, this combination in the afternoon will stop you from overeating at dinnertime.