Calorie Counting and Snacks

healthy eating, snacks

A new app called Calorific shows us pictorially what 200 calories looks like.  It shows that 5 lemons is equivalent to a small piece of cheese cake.

While this is interesting to actually see how many calories are in a food, calorie counting concerns me.  There are a lot of very healthy, calorie dense foods that you should be eating.  Nuts is a very good example of this.  Nuts are relatively higher calorie than other food options.  30 almonds is 160 calories.  Being "high fat", it often scares people away from eating them.  However, those that eat nuts have been shown to have lower risk of heart disease, respiratory issues and type II diabetes.  Nuts have also been associated with helping people manage their weight.  They are packed with vitamins and fibre and would not even compare to some of the nutritionally thin, 100 calorie packs of cookies that one might choose as a snack option.

We often know whether or not that food is good for us without reading a label for the amount of calories.  Interestingly, fruits and vegetables do not have Nutrition Facts Labels.  We just know that they are good for us!

A client once asked me for a list of the most nutrient packed 100 calorie snacks.  This is the list I compiled below.  However, I normally suggest that snacks are 250-300 calories.  IF we're counting calories!

Otherwise I suggest that snacks be two food items, from two different food groups and to use Food Guide portion sizing.  Such as: a piece of fruit and 3/4 c yogurt, a handful of nuts and carrot sticks, a handful of crackers and 1 1/2 oz of cheese...

Maximize the Nutrition in 100 Calorie Snacks

10 Healthiest Foods: sweet potatoes, grape tomatoes, fat free or 1% milk, broccoli, wild salmon, crispbreads (like wasa crackers), brown rice, citrus fruits, butternut squash, spinach and kale

2 crispbread crackers (wasa or ryvita) +

1 ½ Tbsp peanut butter or

2 Tbsp of hummus or

20 g salmon

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½ cup cottage cheese or low-fat plain yogurt +

½ cup blueberries, raspberries or other berries or

½ cup orange

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2 ½ Tbsp hummus +

1 cup broccoli or

1 cup grape tomatoes or

1 cup carrots

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3 Triscuit crackers + 2 tsp of peanut butter

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3 dried apricots + 3 walnut halves

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½ cup edamame

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½ cup sweet potato, cut into strips, bake on a greased pan

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1 small apple + 1 oz. skim milk cheese (7% MF cheese)

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Two little recipes I found:

Mexican Potato

Microwave a medium potato and slice in half (80 calories). Save one piece for tomorrow. Mash the other half inside the potato skin and top it with 2 tablespoons of salsa (10 calories). Eat the whole thing, skin too. Warm-spicy-satisfying and 2 grams each of protein and fiber, some vitamin C, plus a little iron.

Healthy Confetti Crisps

If chips are your downfall, make a batch of these crisps and divide into 6 portions (95 calories each). Munch through a bag while sipping your club soda and lime. If you remember to, enjoy the good fat from the olive oil and the fibre and vitamins in the veggies -- though these taste so good you may forget they're healthy.  (6 servings, 95 calories each)

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2 tsp. garlic salt

1/2 tsp. dried dill weed

1/8 tsp. pepper

1 cup each of peeled and thinly sliced purple potatoes, carrots, and parsnips

Mix the oil and seasonings together, add the vegetables, and toss to coat. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet lightly sprayed with olive oil. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until crisp and golden brown.