All Entries For snacks

How to Avoid the Mindless Munchies

We’ve all had the ''I deserve this'' or ''I just need to relax'' munchies. What can we do to prevent them? After a long day of work, you come home exhausted. Or maybe you’ve spent the day feeling depressed, or maybe you’ve worked really hard on your plan. Perhaps you’ve had a fight with someone, or have been disappointed. The ''I deserve this'' or ''I just need to relax'' munchies'' actually fall under the category of emotional eating.

The ''I deserve this'' category means something is missing. Maybe you’ve had someone be too hard on you; maybe you’ve been too hard on yourself. What you are looking for is a treat. If you can control the portion and lay down some rules, this can be overcome. I personally overcame it by allowing myself treats out of the house. Treats are too tempting in the house. If they do have to come home, they are in a small portion or size. The other method, which I find impossible, is putting treats on your no-no food list.

The ''I just need to relax'' munchies are a sign that you may have some anxiety or stress issues. I’ve personally handled these issues by talking, blogging, and attending professional therapy sessions. There is a list of things that calm me and soothe me without food now. Candles, baths, blogging, talking, helping others and physical activity all seem to help.

It's important to sort the ''head hunger'' from the ''real hunger.'' Try drinking a huge glass of water; this gives you time to distract yourself. Then try other distractions like playing games online, physical activity, relaxing with candles, shopping, getting your haircut or even scheduling an appointment. By then, you know if you are really hungry. If you are, eat a healthy meal or snack that actually fills you. If you are not, then you have to decide to do ''damage control.'' As I say, ''One slice of pizza always has less calories than two.''

Keep your head clear. Don’t be seduced by the eating frenzy that leads to the food coma state. Yes, it is enticing to some of us because we are hooked on the brain chemical release that being overly full produces. We literally get hooked on our own chemistry like a drug, so when we try to eat less, it is literally like withdrawal for some. That makes us feel nervous and like we ''need to relax.''

Posted 3/23/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Beth Donovan : 19 comments   11,748 views
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Food Showdown: Battle of the Movie Theater Snacks!

Who doesn't love the movies...and the movie theater snacks? It's hard to resist the colorful candy packages and smell of fresh popcorn wafting through the air. But for the calorie conscious, which of these salty snacks is the better choice: the light-as-air popcorn or the crunchy nacho chips dipped in gooey cheese?

Can you guess the salty theater snack that will do the least damage to your waistline?
Posted 3/3/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 58 comments   30,266 views
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Early Snacking Helps Avoid Later Weight Issues

My oldest child has always been a great eater.  She’s very active and has a big appetite.  She’s willing to try new foods (within reason) and is always asking when the next meal or snack is being served.  She’s a healthy eater (although she does have a sweet tooth like her mama), and is happy to snack on carrots or tomatoes if she’s hungry and dinner isn’t ready yet. 
I give my kids reasonable portions and encourage them to ask for more if they want it, because I hate to waste food and don’t want to force them to continue eating if they aren’t hungry just to clean their plates.  I’m hopeful that the way I’m teaching my kids to eat will help them avoid weight problems later in life.  I want them to develop a healthy relationship with food and not have to worry about “diets”.  We are big snackers in my house, so I was happy to see results of a new study regarding snacking and weight gain in young girls.
Posted 2/17/2012  6:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 17 comments   17,532 views
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Food Showdown: Banana Chips vs. Chocolate Raisins

Editor's Note: We are excited to announce that SparkPeople's popular "Food Showdown" feature now has a new home here on the dailySpark! Every Saturday, we will be posting a different round of food duos to battle it out in a survival of the healthiest.Try to guess which food is the best choice and check after the jump to see if you picked the victor! Be sure to let us know what you think of Food Showdown, and to share your ideas for future food comparisons in the comments section below. Happy reading!

People will add all kinds of things to fruits and veggies to disguise their natural flavors and make them more appealing. Canned fruits stew in corn syrup, dried fruits are covered in sugar, and these two popular snacks are no exception. Banana chips. They look healthy and aren't super sweet--basically fruit, right? What about chocolate-covered raisins? Raisins are nutritious and chocolate can be healthy in moderation, but how are they together? One of these snacks is masquerading as healthier than it is.

Can you pick the low-fat winner?
Posted 2/11/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 40 comments   23,480 views
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CLOSED: Win 1 of 5 Prizes from 'Mary's Gone Crackers'

A dear friend of mine owns a green general store in downtown Cincinnati. In addition to the eco-friendly household goods, bulk supplies, and awesome coffee, Park + Vine stocks healthy, delicious snacks and treats.

It was there that I first discovered my favorite crackers: Mary's Gone Crackers. Crispy, crunchy, full of whole-grain, gluten-free goodness, these crackers are delicious and nutritious.

Mary's recently shipped us a variety of products, many of which were new even to me. These were a huge hit in the SparkPeople office!

While the crackers (especially the black pepper variety) will always be a go-to snack for me, the pretzel-like Sticks and Twigs in the curry flavor are my new favorite. Dipped in salsa or hummus, they're a great afternoon snack that really satisfies my crunchy cravings.

Good news: Mary's is giving away five gift packs (Crackers and Sticks and Twigs in the flavor of your choice) to lucky readers! 
Posted 11/11/2011  6:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 43 comments   13,730 views
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How to Make Homemade Soft Pretzels

You and your family will love these super easy pretzels. The dough only needs 5 minutes to rest so from start to finish, this snack is ready in a flash.
You and your family will love these super easy pretzels. The dough only needs 5 minutes to rest so from start to finish, this snack is ready in a flash. Traditional soft pretzels contain a large amount of canola oil and butter toppings with a heaping dash of salt. Not these! I used only 2 tablespoons of oil in the recipe and spread egg substitute over the dough just before baking for a shiny low-calorie and fat crust. I did find white whole wheat flour at the grocery store. It packs all the nutrients but omits the dark whole wheat color that can scream “healthy” to some kids.

Yeast does not last forever. Check the expiration date on the package to make sure the yeast is still ready to do some work and make the dough rise.

My  soft pretzel: A food court soft pretzel:
Calories: 194.1 Calories: 370.0
Fat: 2.9 g Fat: 4.0 g
Sodium: 518.6 mg Sodium: 930.0 mg
Posted 11/7/2011  6:00:00 PM By: Meg Galvin : 12 comments   16,718 views
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Healthy (Fun) Foods for Classroom Parties

Eating healthier can be hard enough for us adults, but when our kids want those fun and colorful packaged foods that are low in nutrition and high in calories, it can be hard to say no to them (and keep our own fingers out of the box once it arrives home). In our home, my husband and I make a conscious effort to keep the snacks we buy as natural and nutrient-packed as possible. Of course there are always times when we allow our sons to have “special" (mom-speak for junky) treats, but we try to limit those to truly special occasions, and not let them become a daily habit.
At our kids' school, many well intending parents bring in packaged treats and sweets to share with their child's classmates on birthdays and other special occasions. Much of what is shared are the kinds of foods that we choose not to give our children (sugary, high-cal snack foods with other additives and preservatives). While celebratory foods and sweets are OK in moderation, it seems like almost every day is someone else's birthday, which means these treats are anything but occasional.  So I am on a quest to encourage parents to bring in healthier alternatives that the kids will still enjoy.
I've created a list of 17 foods that are fun for kids, yet quick and easy for busy parents and teachers to pick up or assemble.
Posted 10/19/2011  6:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 21 comments   30,486 views
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CLOSED: Win 1 of 3 Cases of Seasonal Clif Bars


Also, CLIF just told us they have a new flavor (Citrus) of Shot Blocks Energy Chews, which I love for my long runs. Have you tried them?

My boyfriend eats a lot. Though it's just two of us, I often cook for 6-8… which yields lunch and dinner for each of us: 2 portions for me and the rest for him.

He's a competitive cyclist and bikes as his primary form of transportation. The guy eats all the time!

Around our house, food goes fast, and we like to eat healthy, so we keep the pantry and fridge stocked with easy-to-eat, grab-and-go snacks for before and after a workout. Aside from my homemade baked goods (best way to portion control and resist overeating what you bake? Live with a cyclist!), his favorites are Clif bars. He always takes a couple along on long bike rides.

I like them, too, but they don't usually last long enough around the house for me to eat them!

Today, you'll get a chance to win a case of one of the three three seasonal flavors: Spiced Pumpkin Pie, Iced Gingerbread and a brand new flavor, Peppermint Stick! Three winners will be chosen.
Posted 10/14/2011  6:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 81 comments   17,250 views
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Glucerna Hunger Smart Snack Bars and Shakes

Editor's Note:  This is a sponsored post from a SparkPeople advertiser.

Whether you want to lose weight or simply eat healthier, enjoying a couple of snacks each day is a smart habit for many people. Eating a planned snack between meals can help curb your hunger and prevent overeating at mealtime while also increasing energy levels when you need a boost. Snacks also offer an additional benefit for people with diabetes by helping to optimize blood glucose control. Snack bars and drinks have become popular because they offer portable, convenient, pre-packaged options especially when people are living on the go. Now people with diabetes have a delicious way to stick to their weight loss plan AND enjoy snack options without worrying about throwing off their blood glucose levels.
Posted 10/10/2011  10:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 25 comments   29,536 views
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You Asked: What Should I Eat before I Work Out?

You probably know that fueling your body properly can help you take your workouts to the next level. After all, if you go too long without eating, you can feel tired, sluggish and even faint during an exercise session, which means your workouts will suffer and you won't get very good results from your efforts. But with properly timed meals and snacks, you can stave off hunger and give your body the energy it needs to perform at its best.
Here's how to create the perfect pre-workout snack (along with some of our favorite fueling ideas).
Posted 8/17/2011  2:00:00 PM By: Nicole Nichols : 24 comments   22,497 views
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Does Chewing Gum Curb Your Appetite?

Over the years, I've had an "on and off" addiction to chewing gum.  It seems like I go through phases, where I go through packs of gum like a smoker goes through packs of cigarettes.  Then other times I kind of lose interest and stop buying it completely.  My reason is more that I just like having something to keep me occupied.  But a new study says chewing gum could actually help curb your appetite.  Do you agree?
Posted 8/16/2011  6:00:00 PM By: Jen Mueller : 121 comments   29,081 views
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How Snacking Can Help--or Hurt--Your Weight Loss

Let's face it, most of us are bombarded with access to food on an almost daily basis. From our fellow co-workers bringing in the daily supply of morning donuts, to weddings, baby showers and office parties, along with the growing number of restaurants spotting the landscape, many of us do not have to worry about when and where our next meal or snack will come from. According to research, this massive availability to food, in addition to our declining activity levels, may be two of the biggest factors responsible for our ever expanding waistlines. We are also spending more time eating between meals and sadly many of us underestimate the amount of food we are eating at any given meal or snack.

So what can you do to avoid the snacking trap?
Posted 7/22/2011  9:00:00 AM By: Denise Tausig : 18 comments   16,672 views
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15 Hunger-Fighting Foods

The day started innocently enough.  I ate my healthy breakfast, and I really wasn’t hungry after that.  A car trip later and I’m drooling like Homer Simpson at the sight of a Dunkin’ Donuts sign.  Should I or shouldn’t I?  One won’t hurt.  No, usually one doesn’t, but it does cause cravings--mad crazy cravings!  I find myself staring straight into the abyss that might be a downfall of super sugary and fatty portions.  I control it by driving through and getting one and leaving.  If I get any more than that, I’m in trouble.   
Surely you know the foods you eat that cause cravings.  They are the magical ones like chocolate that send you into another world with just a thought.  Everyone has their personal favorites.  We often concentrate on what we shouldn’t eat in large quantities or what triggers our hunger, but what about those foods that satisfy us?  Finding foods we should be eating that are healthful, tasty, and filling can be fun.   

Hunger sometimes has much to do with emotions and comforting, rather than true stomach hunger. (Stop emotional eating before it starts.)

It has to do with what others are eating and what time of day it is.  Hunger many times is just triggered by the setting of being somewhere or doing something.  Smell is a very strong hunger trigger.  So with all of these false signals telling you to eat, what do you do?   
What I do is stay full.  I keep water around at all times.  I also eat every 3-4 hours, so I’m in no danger of real physical hunger ganging up on me with some false signal and sending me on a binge.  I enjoy healthier comfort foods than I used to eat.  Fiber and protein both take longer to digest than simple carbohydrates.  Basically timing is everything.  Your body breaks down carbohydrates within the first half to two hours after you eat them.  During hours two through four, your body is working on proteins, while in hours four through six your body is breaking down fats.  This is why it is important to get a mix of foods at every meal and not wait longer than every 4 hours to eat. I have many favorite hunger fighting foods now, but for the sake of time, I will tell you 15 of my basic must-haves.  These foods are generally high in fiber, protein, or both and may have healthy fat included.   

Posted 7/15/2011  10:00:00 AM By: Beth Donovan : 72 comments   36,190 views
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Guacamole without the Guilt: 11 Great Recipes

I love guacamole. It's one of my favorite foods to eat. And while it is higher in fat than its brethren, the salsas, it is packed full of fiber and heart-healthy fat.

To save the reputation of my favorite dip, I did a quick comparison to see how two tablespoons of guacamole stacks up against some other popular dips.

  Calories Fat (g) Saturated fat (g) Sodium (mg) Fiber (g)
Guacamole 85 5 0 103 3
Spinach dip 70 6 2 110 1
Onion dip 60 5 4 160 0
Nacho cheese 150 11 2 750! 1
Guacamole's looking better already, isn't it?
Posted 6/28/2011  6:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 32 comments   18,195 views
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What Can You Do with Chia Seeds? Plenty!

Mother knows best. Back in 2005, my mom starting telling me about this "amazing" seed that was great for health. She added it to smoothies, granola, breads, and just about everything else. Flax, I quickly learned, was versatile and an easy way to integrate those heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids into my diet.

But as much as I love flax for its nutritional benefits (fiber, lignans, the aforementioned Omega3s and protein), there are a couple of caveats when using it in recipes:

Flax must be ground for our bodies to process it. Whole flaxseeds pass through the body undigested, meaning they're only providing us with fiber. If a product contains whole flaxseeds and boasts that it's a great source of Omega-3s, it's like they gave you a treasure chest but forgot to give you the key! Sure, those heart-healthy fats are in there, but they are locked inside the seeds.

Their nutty flavor is tasty but hard to disguise, which makes it difficult for it to blend in to the background in a recipe.

A couple of years ago, I discovered a food that's become as much of a staple in my kitchen as flax (which I still use almost daily and love!). This seed is a bit harder to find and perhaps slightly more expensive, but it's a great product that I love to use.
What is it? It's chia seed. (Also called salba.)


You know, like Ch-ch-chia? (Rings a bell now, doesn't it?) As in Chia Pets? Those terra cotta sculptures that grow "hair" use the same seeds that grace my morning smoothies and afternoon "puddings."
Posted 6/23/2011  9:00:00 AM By: Stepfanie Romine : 93 comments   122,618 views
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