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13 Smart Snacks to Keep at Your Desk


Hunger doesn't always stick to a schedule, especially during the workday. Your lunch break might be scheduled for noon, but your appetite doesn't always get that memo! Hunger can interfere with your ability to focus on important tasks, and it can make you cranky (or worse, hangry!), which can certainly affect your relationships with your co-workers. That means you gotta get that hunger in check even when you can't leave your desk. So keep healthy snacks on hand to stay on track with your diet and on task at the office!  

Here are 13 nutritious and filling (yet low-calorie) foods that travel well. Some can be stored in your desk, while others need to be stored in the fridge or an insulated lunch bag with an ice pack until you're ready to eat.
Posted 4/10/2014  6:00:00 AM By:   : 6 comments   9,977 views
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Satisfy Any Craving for Less than 100 Calories


When you're trying to manage your weight or eat better, cravings can be your Achilles' heel. They come at the most inopportune times and cripple your will power; you gotta have [insert your biggest temptation] right now, no matter what. It's all you can think about!

Most of us don't crave healthy or low-calorie foods, unfortunately. It's always ice cream, chips, or chocolate--never cucumbers, rice cakes or broccoli. To make matters worse, those cravings usually hit late at night when we don't have many (or any) calories left in our budget for the day.

The good news is that whether you have a sweet or savory, creamy or crunchy craving, you can satisfy it for 100 calories or less without feeling deprived. Here's how:

First, think long and hard about what you're craving. If it's chocolate, chances are a piece of fruit isn't going to satisfy you. You need to eat what you actually crave to feel satisfied.
Posted 3/14/2014  6:00:00 AM By:   : 31,446 views
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11 Ways to Crush Nighttime Cravings


It's 8 p.m. You should be getting ready for bed or at least winding down your day, but all you can think about is how much you want to sink your teeth into that chocolate-covered peanut-nougat candy bar in the kitchen drawer. Or how good a bag of crunchy potato chips would be right now. Or how it would feel to swirl your spoon through a big bowl of butter pecan ice cream and lick up every last drop.

You know you shouldn't…and yet, the craving is all-consuming! Your mind engages in a tug of war so strong you feel like your will power might just be yanked out from under you.
Posted 2/6/2014  6:00:00 AM By:   : 14,460 views
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10 Healthy, Low-Calorie Summer Snacks


Summertime is here and the snacking is easy. This is the season when the fruits and vegetables are just rolling into markets so healthy choices are both cost effective and delicious.

The best snacks for summer are simple: watermelon, peaches, strawberries, blueberries, tomatoes, etc. -- just munch on them!

The 10 recipes below are for those of you who want to dress your summer fruits and vegetables up a bit. A few added ingredients, maybe a little heat, and you have healthy food that is tasty.
Posted 6/26/2013  6:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 30 comments   46,318 views
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How to Conquer Your Snack Attack


I’ll admit it up front: I am a snacker. In fact, I have a snack twice a day. My body screams for food around three p.m. every day, even though I make a point to eat breakfast and lunch. If I ignore the hunger, I end up grabbing and devouring handfuls of chips or cookies as soon as I get home around five p.m.  Therefore, I plan ahead and have a non-perishable snack stashed in my desk drawer at all times, usually homemade trail mix.
 
My second snack attack hits in the evening, and is not related to true belly hunger at all.  In the evening, I want to eat food for comfort.  You know what I’m talking about. At the end of a long day, all I seem to want is chocolate ice cream along with my favorite TV show, book or magazine. 
 
There is nothing inherently wrong with snacking. In fact, snacking can help with weight loss by warding off afternoon and evening binge eating.  However, the snack should be factored into your total calorie intake for the day, and should contain about 150 calories. A balanced snack should have about 15-30 grams of carbohydrates and three to five grams of protein.

Unfortunately, this type of healthy snacking is NOT happening in America, for children or adults.  While I know you are probably not really surprised by this statement, you may be surprised at the numbers. 
Posted 6/6/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Becky Hand : 141 comments   99,998 views
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23 Ways to Top Your Popcorn (for Under 150 Calories)


My favorite snack of late is air-popped popcorn. A whopping 3 cups of air-popped popcorn is a mighty filling whole-grain snack yet only has 92 calories, plus 19 g carbs, 3 g protein, and 4 g fiber. But have you ever eaten plain air-popped popcorn? It can be rather bland and dry. As the saying goes, the secret's in the sauce. For under 150 calories, you can flavor your popcorn in plenty of ways. Salty or sweet, spicy or savory--it's up to you.

Once you've popped your popcorn, it's time for the seasoning. To get your dry herbs, spices and other seasonings to stick, you'll need a little liquid, usually in the form of a fat. A little goes a long way, but you can even have butter on your popcorn without going over 150 calories!

Wondering how these varieties stack up against the tins of gourmet popcorn we're all bombarded with during the holidays? While these all have 150 calories or less, the cheese, buttered or caramel versions can have up to 300 calories in a little more than a cup, with 18 g fat!

Let's get popping!
Posted 6/4/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 82 comments   218,464 views
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10 Super Berry Smoothie Recipes


For my family, spring signals the beginning of little league baseball and a renewed level of busyness that makes staying on top of nutrition a bit of a challenge. Recently, I've been using berries, another spring/summer favorite, to keep my kids fueled up. Using a simple blender, I can have a tasty treat whipped up in minutes that includes many greens that my kids wouldn't normally eat. 
 
Berries are sweet, but also contain a boost of disease-fighting antioxidants, fiber and vitamins. It's fun to hear my kids ask for a second glass, especially when I know it's loaded with spinach, kale, or chia or flax seed to add fiber, protein and healthy omega fats. I make it a goal to get at least three servings of fruits and vegetable in each smoothie I make.
 
When I see deal on berries, I buy double what I need and put half in the freezer. Then I can just pull out what I need, whenever I need it, and clean up is easy too: just pop the blender parts in your dish washer or hand clean with hot soapy water. Fuel yourself with berries and other great smoothies by trying these SparkRecipes. 
Posted 5/9/2013  6:00:00 PM By: Samantha Donohue : 44 comments   466,582 views
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Quick & Healthy On-the-Go Snack Recipes


You know the drill – by the time the late afternoon rolls around, you’re starving and the office candy jar starts looking better and better. Save yourself the temptation and try one of these simple, healthy, and satisfying portable snack ideas instead.

A bonus: not driving home starving means much less temptation to hit the drive through!
  • Medium-size fruit (or 1 serving dried fruit) with 1 serving unsalted nuts (any kind)
  • Greek yogurt (just store a few in the fridge at work!)
  • Medium-size fruit (banana) or veggie (celery, carrots) with 2 TBSP nut butter
    • Tip: try buying the pre-portioned nut butter packets – easier to bring to work than a whole jar, and then you have portion control built in! They are usually sold in 100 calorie packets at the grocery store.
  • 1/4 cup hummus with as many chopped veggies as you want (carrots, celery, peppers, etc.) 
If you have a little time one night (or over the weekend), try some of these healthy snack recipes, too. Just make a batch ahead of time and pre-portion them out into baggies or tin foil so all you have to do come morning is grab one and go!
Posted 4/11/2013  6:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 18 comments   27,870 views
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The 10 Healthiest Foods You've Never Tried


I recently saw a list of the 10 Healthiest Foods You've Never Tried. I pride myself on being an adventurous (mostly vegetarian) eater. When I saw the list, I was excited to see how many I'd eaten.

How many have you eaten?
Posted 3/10/2013  6:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 661 comments   64,174 views
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6 Fun Facts about Peanut Butter


Did you know today is National Peanut Butter Day?

In honor of our favorite nut butter day, we decided to share some fun facts with you. Read on for a super-cool graphic, our best peanut butter recipes, and a poll with an urgent question: chunky or creamy?

Posted 1/24/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Stepfanie Romine : 79 comments   28,243 views
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8 Super Snacks to Try This Year


If you've been struggling with the "no eating between meals" rule, you're in luck: in recent years, that diet myth has been debunked. Snacks are important, especially when are active or trying to lose weight. Go too long without eating, and your blood sugar will drop. Your stomach will rumble. You'll get grouchy--and you'll turn into the cookie monster (or the chip monster or the "will eat the first thing I find" monster).
However, it's easy to fall into a snack rut. If you're tired of eating the same old snacks, you'll love today's "Stuff We Love" list: I'm sharing some new-to-you foods you might want to swap into your snack rotation this year.

I keep snacks in my purse and car at all times to ward off hunger-induced grouchiness and overeating. Believe me: I'm a mild-mannered yogini and health food lover when I'm fed regularly, but when I am starving, watch out! I get cranky and will eat anything in sight!
Posted 1/11/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 57 comments   31,359 views
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The 11 Worst Foods of the Year


Fast food and chain restaurants have evolved significantly over the last few years. Burgers, fries and sodas are still the status quo for many diners, but those who seek healthier foods have plenty of options, from fruit and yogurt parfaits and baked potatoes, to apples cut like fries and grilled chicken. Trans fats have been reduced and eliminated; lowfat milk, fresh fruits and vegetables grace the menus at even the most ubiquitous roadside eateries; and more companies are disclosing nutritional information.

Despite those changes, fast foods menus remain dichotomous: Healthy choices reside next to triple-stacked burgers and extra large fries.

We've rounded up 11 of the worst foods we've seen this year.

Stay far, far away from the foods listed below, and instead select from the plentiful healthy choices at each of the restaurants included in this article.


Posted 1/5/2013  10:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 728 comments   34,269 views
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Fuel Up without Filling Out at the Gas Station


Are you traveling for the holidays? Chances are high that you are—AAA reports that 93.3 million Americans will be traveling between Christmas and New Year’s Day, which is a 1.6 percent increase from last year. And when you're traveling, you'll surely need road snacks to keep your hunger at bay. When you’re pressed for time on the road, you might stop by a gas station to grab a quick bite to eat. But beware—gas stations are home to many foods that are packed with sodium, trans fats and preservatives. However, if you look closely, you can find some decent options to meet your needs in a pinch. If you were to choose between a package of trail mix and a stick of beef jerky at a gas station, which is the better choice to refuel you on your trip?
Posted 12/22/2012  6:00:00 AM By: Melinda Hershey : 21 comments   22,360 views
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Tips to Help Young Athletes Eat Healthy


Back in the 1980s when I was playing high school and college sports, there weren’t a lot of healthy options when my teams would travel to tournaments or meets. Standard options at concession stands included hot dogs, chips, candy, and soda. Back then, bottled water was nowhere in sight. McDonald’s was the typical bus stop choice on the way home because they were the only fast food chain coaches could count on.  Meals were burgers that came with fries and a soda. To substitute milk for the soda would cost you extra and courtesy cups for water were the size of three ounce Dixie bathroom cups. Many times my mother would send me off with a snack of nuts and raisins or orange segments to try and balance things out.
 
My college volleyball coach selected Wendy’s as her restaurant of choice when we were on the road each weekend because they were the only fast food option back then with a salad bar. Coach didn’t pay for soda, fries or desserts like a Frosty out of the team budget, which helped a little. However, it was still a choice of a hamburger or the salad bar as our meal option. Today we know that not every salad bar is diet-friendly but back then only the nutrition majors like me knew the strategies for salad bar survival.
 
Unfortunately not that much has changed today. Busy lives continue to make healthy eating a challenge for a young athlete. Weekday practice schedules cause families to grab Food on the Run on their way to the next event.  Parents spend weekends sitting at soccer and football fields or ball diamonds causing children options like “walking tacos,” candy or chips from the concession stand or the after game snack provided by a team parent.
 
With snack food and hectic schedules continuing to influence young athletes for several decades, it isn’t any surprise that an article published online in April for the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior found that parents tend to be dissatisfied with the healthfulness of food offerings at youth sport settings.  Here are some tips to help keep your young athletes active and healthy at the same time.
Posted 10/8/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 4 comments   6,101 views
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Better Than Store-Bought: Granola Bars


Editor's Note: This is a new series about how to re-create some of your favorite healthy foods at home.

Granola bars are a healthy on-the-go snack, but some packaged versions contain high fructose corn syrup, preservatives and sweet ingredients that negate some of that nutritional benefit. This homemade granola bar recipe includes whole grains, natural sweeteners, healthy nuts and dried fruit, with protein and fiber to keep you going. Even better: The recipe is super adaptable. You can adjust the amount of brown sugar to suit your taste, and add any combination of dried fruit you like, or omit the fruit. Neither rock-hard nor super soft, this crunchy-chewy granola bar lives up to its good-for-you reputation.
Posted 8/9/2012  2:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 40 comments   38,884 views
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