Why Are Snacks Essential?
The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that healthy snacks are the cornerstone of the MS diet. We all need a constant supply of tasty, filling and nutritious snacks to get us through the day and keep our tummies from getting ravenous between meals. It is now a well known fact that eating five or six small meals throughout the day is far better for your health and weight management than eating three big meals a day. Eating consistent, small meals throughout the day revs up our metabolism which gives us more energy and helps us control our weight more effectively. Our bodies also like to maintain a balanced state, otherwise known as homeostasis.Keeping blood sugar levels perfectly balanced is of the utmost importance for maintaing energy, a clear mind, a stable mood and the ability to focus.
We all know how we get when we are hungry. I think a good word to describe that feeling is CRANKY. When My husband is hungry, I know that I dare not discuss anything important or complicated with him. It is just not the time! He likes to say that he becomes 'hangry' when he is hungry. However, as soon as his tummy is full and his blood sugar levels have returned to normal, he is my wonderful, sweet and caring husband again. Suffice to say, we make sure we take a good supply of snacks wherever we go!
Hunger is our worst enemy. Our bodies go into desperation mode when we are hungry and then we will eat just about anything to reduce the pain! This is our weakest point and we are most likely to eat something we shouldn't and end up feeling even worse afterwards. We CANNOT, at all costs, let ourselves reach this point. You need to have a snack plan in mind. If you are out of the house for the day, make sure you have at least two different snacks with you. Never leave home without them! You never know where you are going to be caught up.
MS Diet Snacks - What Is Legal?
Just a quick reminder that your snacks should never include any of the following ingredients: refined sugar, wheat & gluten, dairy and saturated fat. It can be a difficult task to achieve. Sometimes a product can be dairy and gluten free but not sugar free which is so annoying! It is best to stick to raw, fresh produce that you know hasn't been tampered with but , believe it or not, there are some products out there are completely MS diet legal. Isn't that awesome? We will be discussing these further on.
Now I know that many of you battle to find variety in your MS diet snacking. Often, all you can find are the same old snacks that are, quite frankly, getting a little boring. The whole point of this post is to make you aware that there are so many mouth watering MS diet snacks out there to be tried. I have recently discovered a few that I am quite addicted to and they have really helped curb my cravings for unhealthy snacks. The following are some of my favorite snacks. Some are very simple and others need a little more forethought and planning.
Ten Great Snack Ideas
1. Rice Cakes with Avocado
Avocado is one of those foods that you just can't get enough of. Contrary to popular opinion, it is not a vegetable but, in fact, a fruit. It is in the same class as a banana and they both belong to the climacteric fruit family. These fruits mature on the tree but ripen off it. Avocado is a great source of monounsaturated oleic acid that research has shown to both reduce bad cholesterol at the same time as increasing the more beneficial cholesterol. It is anti-inflammatory and will make your skin glow!
I really enjoy spreading avocado on rice cakes as a snack. Try and find rice cakes that are free of any oils. These oils will be heated and won't make you feel great. Most brands will be fine. Cut your avocado in half, remove the pip and scoop out the flesh with a fork. Then mash it onto your rice cakes. Depending on the size of the avocado, you may only use one half. Keep the other half to put in your salad a bit later. There are various things you can add to the avocado. First, you may want to season it with a bit of herb salt. Then you can top it with rocket, sliced tomatoes or cucumber. I always put a tiny drizzle of extra virgin olive oil or flaxseed oil over the top. This is a great snack to take to work. It doesn't take too much preparation and will help you to feel great and get done what you need to!
It is official, I am addicted to kale chips! I, honestly never expected them to be so super yummy. They are earth shatteringly crispy, melt in your mouth and best of all they are raw and nutritious. You can make your own in a dehydrator or your oven. I have shared my recipe with you in my previous post. They are wonderful on the day you make them but I do find that they get soggy quite quickly, even if stored in an airtight container.
You can also buy them! I have discovered one of the most innovative brands I have ever come across, 'inSpiral'. For me, it is definitely the find of the year! This creative company do a whole range of raw, organic, completely MS diet legal snacks. I am busy munching on a bag of 'Purple Corn Kale Chips' as I type. They are as good, if not far better than regular crisps. I would give them ten out of ten for crispiness, crunch, flavor, texture and healthiness. They are technically raw which means that most of the amazing nutrients that kale has to offer are still present in the crispy leaves. They are just a WHOLE lot easier to eat than fresh kale leaves which can, truth be told, be a tad chewy. This way, you can consume a huge amount of kale and not get too much of a jaw workout in the process.
The product is innovative and forward thinking. They have infused a variety of super foods into their kale chips. Some of my favorite flavors are: Wasabi & Wheatgrass, Beetroot & Acerola, Baobab & Onion and Cocao & Cinnamon. Since kale is also a super food, these chips are super, super foods! Pretty impressive.
Although I feel the product is a little on the pricy side ($6/£3.70 per 60g bag), I do feel that it is not too bad for the quality of product you are getting. I know how much work goes into converting a bag of fresh kale into yummy chips. It is truly a labour of love! Check out their site, they are doing loads of other innovative things and run a cafe in London which I will be visiting shortly!
3. Air-Popped Popcorn
I have always loved popcorn. I used to put about a cm of oil in the bottom of the saucepan, throw the popcorn in, crank up the heat and then wait for the popping noises. Always super delicious but I often didn't feel very good afterwards. Little did I know that my body was struggling to deal with the undigestible cooked oil. Heated oil is actually toxic for the body and could leave you with tummy cramps and bloating. Only in the last two years have I purchased an air popper. I can really feel the difference. Air poppers are not very expensive. I paid around $30/£20 for mine.
The machine makes quite a big noise as it spins the popcorn, heating it up. My kids love the popping process and can't wait to hear the first POP. At the end you will have a large bowl of popcorn which you need to throw a few swigs of extra virgin olive oil over and then season with herb salt. Then toss the lot very well so that the oil and salt are evenly spread. To make a sweet version, omit the oil and throw a little maple syrup and cinnamon over the popcorn. Again, mix it all together very well.
This is a great snack that can be stored in little bags and taken anywhere without making a mess. One last note, if you can find organic popcorn kernels, these are best as most corn products are GMO these days.
4. Whole Mango
Have you ever found yourself knee deep in a mango? A mango is a meal in itself! It really is a huge and very filling piece of fruit. As a child, my Dad showed me a special way to cut it that makes eating it a real pleasure. You need to hold the mango up right on a chopping board or plate and then cut off the two fleshy sides, right down to the pip. Then, carve a noughts and crosses board into each of the sides (taking care not to cut through the skin) and press the skin on the back so that the flesh opens up into little cubes. You can then bite off each cube, one by one. It is a little messy but terribly indulgent. My Dad used to say that eating a mango is like eating cake. So, next time you are at a party and there is cake around, whip out your mango (You may want to have it chopped up neatly in a little container though!). It also definitely curbs sugar cravings.
Just a quick note about the nutritional content of mangoes. Mangoes are rich in a whole host of nutrients such as vitamin A, C, potassium and copper. This fruit seems to help protect against the formation of cancers and other diseases. A snack that will leave you feeling completely satisfied.
5. Nuts & Dried Fruit
I always keep a container filled with mixed nuts and often dried fruit too. It is like my pick and mix box and it is such a lifesaver. Nuts are brilliant because they seem to quickly reduce hunger and provide you with an instant lift. Everybody has their favorite and mine are pecans, although cashews are a very close second. The dregs are always the almonds and Brazils. I still like them though! The best way to eat nuts is to first soak them in salted water first for at least eight hours. This gets rid of the toxic substance that prevents nuts from germinating before the right conditions are present. You can then dehydrate them if you have a dehydrator. Very yummy and quite addictive. I have to be disciplined otherwise I can eat too many and we all know that too much of a good thing can be bad.
Nuts are a fabulous source of protein and good fats but remember that they must always be eaten raw. Eating roasted nuts is almost the same as eating potato crisps. Heated fat!
When buying dried fruit, please try and find preservative free options. Many brands use the preservative, sulphur dioxide which is actually not really necessary and will only add more toxins to your body. I have found some lovely natural dried mango and strawberries. They are like my candy! Sweet, chewy and delicious!
I have been loving this sinful snack! I posted this recipe on the site a few weeks ago and so I hope some of you have tried it out. I was feeling creative one day and so decided to throw a bunch of ingredients together. Pecans, shredded coconut, gluten-free oats and maple syrup are a few of them. It is so easy because everything is just thrown into a blender and finely ground. Little balls are then formed and refrigerated. They last for quite at least a week in an airtight container in the fridge. However, I don't think they will last that long with hungry tummies around.!
They are just the right size to pop into your mouth and enjoy. You will probably need 2-3 for a decent snack.
7. Cubed Apple, Cinnamon & Maple Syrup
This snack has become one of my firm favorites. It is perfect for those moments that you are having intense sugar cravings and that chocolate bar in your husband's beside draw is calling your name! Apple contains natural fruit sugars which work to stabilize your sugar levels and maple syrup is a natural sweetener. We all know by now that cinnamon has healing and anti-inflammator properties so I say, the more the better!
To make this snack, you will need one apple, a few swigs of maple syrup and a sprinkling of cinnamon, depending on your taste for it. Chop the apple into smallish cubes and place in a small bowl. Add the maple syrup, cinnamon and mix thoroughly. Enjoy every sweet, pleasure-filled bite.
There are quite a few different crackers you can buy or make that are MS diet legal. I often enjoy buckwheat crackers and organic corn thins. Flaxseed crackers are also a fabulous though, hard to eat snack and can be purchased from health shops. I have yet to try and make them in my dehydrator but this is on my 'snack to make' list.
inSpiral also does some delicious crackers they call 'crackits'. They contain almonds, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, zucchini and carrots as a base and come in great flavors such as 'Wasabi' and 'Tomato'. Obviously they are completely raw and so your body will readily absorb all the nutrients they have to offer. The 'crackits' are really crunchy but are also soft enough that you don't feel like your teeth are going to break when you bite into them. Absolutely divine when topped with avocado, spinach and tomato and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. Highly recommend checking them out! They also sell these lovely little super food bites which are a little chewy but are a great mix of hugely healthy, antioxidant filled ingredients. My two year old son loves them!
9. Raw Vegetables with Pesto or Guacamole
This is one of those snacks you don't often feel like making because it does take a bit of effort but once you are chowing down, you are very happy that you expended the energy! You feel like an invincible health queen when eating this snack. You just know your body is loving it! The vegetables that work best for dipping are carrots, cucumbers and, if you are feeling adventurous, raw cauliflower and broccoli are great. These veggies are wonderful on their own but even more stupendous when dipped into guacamole or vegan pesto.
I make my guacamole, quite simply, by throwing the following ingredients in a blender:
- 1 large, ripe avocado
- 1 small garlic clove
- 1/2 tomato or red pepper
- herb salt to taste
Churn it all up, at high speed, and it turns out creamy and flavoursome! Yes, it's as easy as that.
For the pesto, there are quite a few flavors you can make. There is a kale pesto recipe on the site which is pretty good. You can also test out the aubergine and parsley pesto recipe but my favorite is actually sun dried tomato pesto. This can be made by combining these ingredients:
- large handful raw cashew nuts
- 3.5oz/100g sundried tomatoes
- handful fresh basil leaves
- 1-2 TBSP tomato puree
- 3 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
- herb salt
- a little water
Wizz it all together in a blender and then add the water until the pesto has a nice soft consistency. Almost the same consistency as the guacamole.
Chop the vegetables into long tin strips and arrange them on a platter around a bowl of your favorite dip.
10. Gluten-free Toast with Almond Butter & Honey
Lastly, a very unsophisticated but entirely satisfying snack - good old toast. Try and find gluten free bread that is sugar free. This can be a challenge but there are varieties out there. Raw almond butter is next on the grocery list for this snack. Almond butter is such a useful ingredient for snacking, flavoring meals and making sweet treats. Honey is used to sweeten the deal and this beautifully natural sweetener really adds the yummy factor to this snack.
Very quick and easy to make and you can be tempted to have it a few time s a day. However, don't have it too often. Not more than three times a week. You need a good balance and raw snacks are definitely best!
Summing It All Up
I continue to be inspired by the way this diet works. It involves a little creativity, fun and experimentation to find foods that you never dreamt would taste so good. As I'm sure you have realised by now, snacks are important. Especially yummy ones that make it easy to love the MS diet. I encourage you to make a list of all the snack you like, put it on your fridge and then make sure you have one or more of each during every week. Variety is the spice of life and these snacks will keep your MS diet interesting and help you to stay disciplined. They will help you avoid the bad stuff when you are out and about and you can even take a plate of them along when visiting friends, who will be suitably impressed I'm sure! Please let us know what your favorite MS diet snacks are. I am always looking for new ideas and I know that there are thousands out there that I haven't yet discovered. Happy snacking!
If you need help and support to take the next step with your lifestyle, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.
Love and nutrients,