Now that the new year break is coming to an end (perhaps for some of us it has already ended), it’s time to get back to work or school! And you've probably been wracking your brain trying to figure out your lunch, let alone which healthy no-prep snacks you'll include.
There's usually so much to think about, lots to do and so little time when we’re busy trying to get organised for work, get the kids ready for school, feed the family and… the list could go on forever. Trying to keep everyone healthy with so little time can be such a challenge.
But don’t fret! I’m here to help. Short on time? Lacking ideas? No problem! Here are my top 5 go-to quick and easy (and healthy!) snacks that are ready to go – no prep required!
Nuts are ready to eat right off the shelves and are my top choice for a healthy no-prep snack. All you have to do is put them in your bag, lunch box or container. Not only are they convenient, they’re also full of valuable nutrients that can fuel your body. Nuts are a good source of protein and fibre which can make it a satisfying snack to help you feel fuller for longer between meals. That way, you’re less likely to snack on less nutritious foods. Nuts are also one of the foods included in the core food group “lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans” as recommended in the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating.
Nuts are a great source of protein, fibre and healthy fats and also offer a range of B vitamins, vitamin E and a range of minerals. There are many varieties of nuts – macadamia, pistachios, cashews and almonds just to name a few-, with each having its own unique nutrient profile, all providing nutrients that are beneficial for health. The range of different types of nuts not only provides a variety of nutrients, but also offers different flavours so you can keep it interesting for your taste buds as well! (Check out “Go Nuts” on our Incite Health blog for more information on the health benefits of nuts).
Fruits are a great, healthy no-prep snack that can be a bit underrated in my opinion. There is so much variety when it comes to fruit – different colour, flavours and textures – and some of them even come in it’s own natural packaging! (I mean look at bananas and mandarins – it doesn’t come any more environmentally friendly than that does it?)
Fruits are a valuable source of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients (these have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects). In fact the different colours in fruits represent different types of phytonutrients as phytonutrients are responsible for giving fruit its colour. So, by having a variety of fruits of different colours, you can eat a variety of different nutrients as well.
The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommends having 2 serves of fruit per day, so you know by having a piece of fruit as a snack, you are on your way to meeting your daily recommendations of fruit.
3. Roasted Chickpeas
If you are thinking “I don’t know about this one…”, you’re not alone. Neither was I (and many people who I have given some roasted chickpeas to try). You really have to try roasted chickpeas for yourself. I have found that many people, including myself, have been pleasantly surprised once they tried it.
Many people hear about lentils and legumes but have no idea how to include them in the diet. This is a yummy way to do so!
They are crunchy, similar to nuts but more of a crispy texture. Like nuts, they are a great source of fibre and protein, so it will help you stay fuller for longer, and satisfied between meals as a snack. The amazing thing about lentils and legumes, such as chickpeas, is that they can fit in 2 of the categories of our 5 core food groups – the vegetable group and the meat and its alternative group. How versatile right?
Also, these are great for the lunch box for both young and old. Some schools nowadays have a nut free rule, making roasted chickpeas a great lunch box alternative to nuts. Roasted chickpeas can also be dairy free, gluten free and nut free which makes it handy to fit the needs of different people
You can find these in the health food aisle of the supermarket and they can come in individual packs, ready to go into your bag or lunchbox.
Did you know only about 10% of Australians meet the recommended daily serves of dairy (more accurately – “milk, yoghurt, cheese and alternatives”) group?
Having yoghurt as a snack can be an easy way to better meet your dairy needs for the day! Nowadays, we have individual tubs and pouches of yoghurt we can buy off the shelves – talk about a no-prep snack! Just pop into your bag or lunch pack and go.
Yoghurt is a rich source of calcium and protein as well as a source of many other vitamins and minerals such as vitamin Bs, magnesium and potassium (just to name a few).
If you are wondering, full fat or low fat?, the answer is whichever one you prefer. More recent studies have found no association between dairy fat and increased risk of heart diseases, with some research even finding links between yoghurt intake and protective effect on heart disease. The heart foundation updated its position statement to reflect the recent research and now recommends full-fat or low fat dairy for the general population.
The majority of Australians not only do not meet their daily recommended serves of dairy, but also 73% of females and 51% of males did not usually meet their calcium requirements at the last national survey.
Cheese is another calcium rich snack that can help us better meet our calcium needs and recommended daily serves per day. An example of a serve of cheese is 2 slices or 40g of hard cheese.
Cheese in general is a rich source of calcium; nevertheless, some hard cheeses contain more calcium than soft cheeses. For example, cheddar cheese contains 763mg of calcium per 100g compared with white mound cheese (eg. brie or camembert) which contains 464mg of calcium per 100g.
Similar to yoghurt, a variety of cheeses come in individual packets off the shelves and can be a convenient snack to take with you to work or school.
So, that's it. My go-to top 5 healthy no-prep snacks! I hope these ideas will help you stay well-nourished throughout your day and keep you healthy all year round.
If you are looking for realistic and fresh ways to stay healthy this year, check out my blog on “New Year New Health”.
Perri Yiu, Dietitian at Balanced Body Chiropractic