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Snicky Snacks

For a period of time when she was younger, my now almost 5 year old loved to call snacks “snicky snacks”. It was equal parts endearing and obnoxious, as many things with toddlers are.

Are you a snacker? For most people I’ve met, there is a clear divide here: those who snack and those who don’t. I am generally a moderate snacker – if it is available, I’ll snack. I LOVE snack foods and enjoy occasionally just making a meal of snacks. However, when I am pregnant and breastfeeding, my snacking is at Olympic training levels.

While to some of you that sounds delightful, sometimes it is hard. The trick with snacking is not over doing it and finding something “healthy”. And thinking about it as much as I have to in these scenarios is draining. I’ve been hearing a lot about decision fatigue lately, and I definitely get snack decision fatigue.

In honor of that, I thought today I’d share a list of some of my go-to healthy(ish) snacks. I hope they help you in any snacking ventures you are experiencing.

– Lowfat cottage cheese with fruit. Drained peaches canned in juice is my absolute favorite.
– Trail mix. I try to find one with plenty of dried fruit and maybe yogurt chips, no outright “candy”.
– Yogurt. With fruit, with granola, plain, I’m an equal opportunity eater. My personal favorites right now are Light and Fit Greek or Noosa.
– Popcorn. Home popped with a little Parmesan or the store bought white cheddar.
– Triscuits. Please try the fig and honey flavor.
– Veggies with hummus
– Cheesesticks with lunch meat. I try to keep this one sporadic as it is a bit of a salt bomb.
– Clif Zbars. Yes these are the kid versions. But I love them.
– Fig Bars.
– Leftover smoothie. If I can hide it from my kids, I usually make too much smoothie in the morning and love to save the extra for later.
– Muffins. I like to make big batches of 2 or 3 kinds of muffins and store them in my freezer.
– Avocado or almond butter toast.
– Tortilla chips with salsa or guacamole. This one definitely has to be in moderation. And I try to find salt free chips.

I’d love to hear some of your go to snacks. I’m always looking for variety. Happy snacking!

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Easy Granola

A year and a half ago, I visited my in-laws. My mother-in-law was on a very strict low carb diet at the time. The day before I arrived, however, she had a bit of a fall out with her diet. Now, while most of us would go for cake and cookies and ice cream, she made granola. I gave her props for at least caving for something whole grain and mostly good for you.

That story is to try and give you some indication of how good this granola is. Good enough to blow a diet for, rather than all the normal sugary stuff. And it really is pretty good for you. Granola only gets a bad rap because we tend to eat A LOT at one time, which can add up in the calorie department. But a little as a snack or on some yogurt is perfect. Enjoy some today on this beautiful first day of fall!

Easy Granola (Makes about 8 cups)

Easy Granola

5 cups oats (quick or old-fashioned are fine)
1 cup non fat powdered milk
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup shredded coconut (optional)
½ cup canola oil
1 cup honey
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup dried fruit (or more if you like)

1. Preheat oven to 300. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone liner, or spray with cooking spray.

2. Mix all the ingredients together with a rubber scraper or wooden spoon. Spread in an even layer on baking sheet.

3. Bake for about 30 minutes (keep an eye on it so it doesn’t start to burn). Remove from oven and let it cool for 30 minutes. Break into chunks as desired. Store in an airtight container.

Nutritional information (about per ¼ cup):

Calories: 171
Protein: 3 g
Fat: 8 g
Saturated Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: less than 1 mg
Carbohydrates: 24 g
Fiber: 2 g
Sodium: 94 mg

Recipe notes: I never have coconut, so I leave that out. You could sub coconut oil in for flavor, but realize that it will change the fat ratios. I like walnuts and craisins. You could use whatever dried fruit and nut combo you like. Or you could use some premixed trail mix if you have that around.

Source: my sister-in-law

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Snacking motivation

Are you a snacker?  You likely are, since studies have found that 94% of Americans snack once a day.  In fact, if you are “millennial” (between the ages of 21 and 38), you probably snack multiple times a day.  A recent study reported that 24% of millennial snack at least four times a day.  That is a lot of snacking.

Snacking in itself isn’t bad, but it is important to understand why we snack.  In that same study, they found that boredom, stress relief , and increasing energy were among the top reasons for millenials’ snacking.  Even baby boomers snack to satisfy cravings – up to 70% of them.

When is it a good idea to snack?  Satisfying a true hunger is a good time to eat a snack.  You don’t want to get yourself too hungry between meals, as this frequently leads to overeating.  However, you need to keep the amount of calories in your snack in check while remember to probably decrease how much you eat at your next meal.

The biggest problem with snacking is finding a healthy snack.  So many snack foods are loaded in fat or salt.  And they can be addictive, leading to overconsumption.

As a general rule, try to have a snack that has protein and fiber.  And space it at least 2 hours before or after a meal.  For more ideas on snacks, read here.

Happy eating and snacking!

Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!

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Zucchini Corn Fritters

It’s getting to be that time of year where gardens are going crazy. Or if you don’t have a garden, corn, zucchini, and tomatoes are fairly inexpensive and extra tasty at the store. Here’s a great side dish or snack utilizing some of the produce in season right now.

Zucchini Corn Fritters (Makes about 18 fritters)

Zucchini Corn Fritters

1 ½ cups packed shredded zucchini (no need to peel the zucchini)
½ cup corn kernels
1 green onion, diced
1-2 large eggs, lightly beaten
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
⅓ cup bread crumbs
¼ teaspoon dried basil
¼ teaspoon garlic powder

1. Preheat the oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly coat with cooking spray.

2. Wring out excess water in zucchini, making sure it is really dry.

3. Combine zucchini and remaining ingredients in a bowl until combined. Add additional egg if mixture is too dry.

4. Drop by spoonfuls onto baking sheet. Lightly flatten into fritter shape. Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden and center is set.

Nutritional Information (Amount per fritter):

Calories: 23
Protein: 1 g
Fat: 1 g
Saturated Fat: less than 1 g
Cholesterol: 12 mg
Carbohydrates: 3 g
Fiber: less than 1 g
Sodium: 45 mg

Recipe source: adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

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Cauliflower Quesadillas and Happy Registered Dietitian Day!

Happy Registered Dietitian Day!  The second Wednesday of March is this special day we get to celebrate the RDs in our lives.  So hug or high five any RDs you know today.  To learn more about what it means to be an RD, read here.

At first glance, this recipe sounds like something only an RD would eat.  Who would mess with delicious, cheesy quesadillas by adding cauliflower?  Even I was skeptical, but I was curious enough to try them.  Besides cauliflower was on sale that week, and my little girl was on a huge quesadilla-eating streak.  If this got some veggies in her in the process, it seemed like a win.

These quesadillas were quite possibly the best veggie quesadilla I’ve tried, and I’ve tried a lot.  It struck the perfect balance between “this tastes like vegetables and being good for me” and “yummy quesadilla”.  Even my daughter was fooled for a few bites, although the game was up once a few pieces of cauliflower fell out of her tortilla.  Enjoy!

Charred Cauliflower Quesadillas (Makes 6 quesadillas)

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1 poblano chile
1 small head of cauliflower, chopped into 1 inch chunks
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil, divided
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 large tomato, diced
1 cup spinach leaves
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 ½ cups monterey jack cheese, shredded
12 whole grain tortillas

1. Heat broiler on high. Char poblano under high heat, rotating as skin blisters. Transfer to a bowl once all sides are blistered. Cover bowl with foil tightly, and let rest for about 5 minutes. When cool enough to handle, peel off as much skin as will come off easily. Remove stem and seeds. Place on cutting board.

2. Toss cauliflower with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt, and pepper. Heat a large, heavy fry pan over high heat until almost smoking. Add cauliflower, and let it cook until beginning to char, but not mushy. Turn pieces to char all sides evenly. Total cooking time will be about 10 minutes, depending on heat of pan and size of cauliflower. Add to cutting board.

3. Return pan to medium-high heat. Add remaining ½ tablespoon olive oil. Saute onion for 3-5 minutes, or until beginning to soften. Add garlic and tomato. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until most of liquid is evaporated. Add spinach and continue to cook until spinach is wilted. Remove from heat.

4. On cutting board, coarsely chop cauliflower and poblano together. Cauliflower chunks should be no bigger than ½ inch. Poblano pieces need to be small enough to be incorporated throughout. Add to onion mixture. Stir in green onions and lime juice. Mix until combined.

5. Heat a skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Working in batches, make quesadillas. Place one tortilla on skillet. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of cheese evenly over the surface. Top with 1/6 of vegetable mixture. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of cheese (you will use ¼ cup cheese per quesadilla). Top with another quesadilla. Flip when bottom tortilla is browned and cheese is melting. Cook on other side until browned and all cheese is melted. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information (Amount per quesadilla):

Calories: 423
Protein: 16 g
Fat: 21 g
Saturated Fat: 10 g
Cholesterol: 27 mg
Carbohydrates: 49 g
Fiber: 6 g
Sodium: 708 mg

Recipe Notes: I added onion, tomato, and spinach to the original recipe. I did make some quesadillas without that, to test the original. While the original was good, this version was much better. The onion and tomato really brought home the “mexican” flavor and helped hide the “vegetable” flavor.

Source: adapted from Smitten Kitchen

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