Saturday, February 18, 2012

Healthy Snacking 101

It’s not easy to be a healthy eater and keep from growing (horizontally I mean) in general.  Add to this, our hectic lifestyles which make for eating patterns that are anything but normal (if you are or were ever a college student, medical student or grad student there is no doubt you can recall at least multiple occasions where you were scarfing something so disgustingly unhealthy down your throat after midnight wondering if your pants would fit tomorrow or thanking God you’re wearing scrubs with the adjustable waist line because ignorance is bliss), and we can’t help but feel the battle has been lost. 

Stanford is probably one of the healthiest colleges in terms of cafeteria food and ingredient options.  We had fresh fruit, veggies, omelet stations and a good variety of protein for each meal.  However, to offset that a bit, we had something called “Late Night”.  Sounds innocent enough.  But “Late Night” was anything but (they should’ve called it “Lard Night”).  After 11 pm, from far and wide, students – freshmen, upperclassman, even your occasional creepy grad student (what were THEY doing here?!)—were drawn to the only dining hall on campus that served heart attack inducing snacks and meals (if you could call these meals).  There should have been a cardiac cath lab in the basement.  The overwhelming aroma of deep fried grease would permeate the Stanford dormitory walls- and when it reached us, from our dorm rooms one by one we would come.  Looking back, it was almost supernatural.  Just a group of college kids, midnight approaching, the sudden smell of deep fried lard and a shared unspoken understanding-together, we were off like a pack of wolves.  Fried mozzarella, hot wings, cheesy fries, and the greasiest pizza you’ve ever seen- with all kinds of sodas and other high-fructose corn syrup containing drinks to wash down the artery-clogging snacks we had just consumed.  If I knew then what I know now, I may have done things a little differently.  Sure, late night was fun.  It was social, it was cool and it was damn delicious.  But as my freshman year wound down, 15 (ok so maybe 20) pounds later, I wished I hadn’t been so late night happy.  My experiences prompted me to share some healthy snack ideas for the college/med/grad student/intern/resident/etc who is limited by time, money and a proper kitchen.  Often times all you’ll have is a mini-fridge and an electric outlet to work with.

Some of my snacks need just the ingredients themselves, while others require an electric device such as a toaster oven, microwave or blender (cheap investments if you make a trip to Target – just DO NOT wear red because last time I did, I spent the entire time getting stopped by shoppers who thought I was an employee, asking me where the toilet paper, mulch and playstation games were).  All I ask is that you invest in a knife and cutting board to chop your ingredients (and sorry, I don't know what aisle they are in).  

And now for my TOP 12 LIST:

Of course, feel free to play around with any fruit or veggie you like and a spoon of peanut butter.  Bananas, celery and carrots are other favorites of mine. 

2. Yudofu (aka Japanese Tofu hotpot)

This not only makes a great snack but a larger portion can serve as a tasty light meal.  You don’t need to boil the tofu.  It is fine to remove it from the package, rinse and microwave OR you can enjoy it cold instead without any heating at all, something the Japanese do as well (in which case it wouldn’t be called Yudofu but rather Hiyayakko) Don’t have fish flakes?  That’s okay, just make it without:

Perfect alone or with multigrain pita wedges.

4. Too Good Tuna (I guess you need to invest in a can opener or just borrow your neighbor’s)

A can of tuna never tasted so good.

5.  Homemade Hummus with a Kick (needs blender)

This can be tweaked to your liking with herbs and spices of your choice.  Enjoy with whole-wheat pita wedges or veggies!

6. Bananarama Power Bars (needs toaster oven)

Perfect to make over the weekend and grab in the morning on your way out the door.  Will keep you full for hours.

7. Grilled Veggie Stacks (needs toaster oven)

So delicious.  Enough said. 

Delightfully nutritious and satisfying smoothies- perfect for breakfast or a snack- YUM!

9.  Edamame (needs microwave unless you buy ready to eat- Trader Joes has yummy ready to eat edamame)

10. DIY (Do-It-Yourself) Trail Mix

I recommend plain (no oil or salt) popcorn mixed with Craisins, dark chocolate chips and cashews but that’s just me.  Change it up depending on what YOU like :-)

11.  The Turkey Cheese Roll-up

Just one slice of turkey and one slice of cheese and roll it up!  Only thing is, refrain from buying turkey meat with nitrites and go for minimally processed, anti-biotic free.  My favorites are Plainville Farms Honey Turkey Breast.

With a slice of Jarlsberg Lite.

12.  Japanese Barley Tea

And finally, in terms of beverages, the staple in our home is Japanese Barley Tea (we always have a huge cold pitcher in our fridge), which deserves an entry itself.  This caffeine-free, sugar-free, hydrating tea has anti-bacterial, anti-coagulative and anti-oxidant properties.  It takes just minutes to prepare and it is absolutely delicious.  

Unless you happen to have inherited the “prodigy” gene, it’s not easy being a student--staying up late, waking up early, memorizing a seemingly impossible amount of information so that you can pass some outrageously difficult exams.  And in the process, you are trying or at least you’d like to stay somewhat healthy and fit. 

The goal should be efficiency and satiety.  My advice for now, two things: make some quick, healthy and satisfying snack choices like the ones I just highlighted AND either get to the gym/jump on your wiifit/pop in your p90X dvd/or get outside for a walk or jog for 30 minutes a day- that’s all.  Just so that you get the blood flowing and your heart rate up.  You’ll feel (and look) so much better.  Oh yeah, and stay far far away from “Late Night” and if possible, scrub bottoms with those deceivingly adjustable waist bands (the difference between a small and medium in scrub bottoms is WAY more than just a few pant sizes)- I guess that’s four pieces of advice, not two ;)  

If you have any questions, please ask me.  For more healthy snacking and clean eating tips, follow me on Twitter and "like" All Is Well That Eats Well on Facebook.  Join in the conversation because health and wellness are participatory!

1 comment:

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