Everything You Need To Know About Healthy Snacks
Snacking is the action of consuming food between your allotted meal times, and sadly, it has been given an unwarranted bad reputation in recent years.
As a result, many people now no longer think that snacking is healthy, when, in fact, healthy snacking can help to keep us on the straight and narrow. In this guide, we’re going to explore snacking in a bit more detail, including topics such as why we snack, how to snack in a healthy way, and which snacks will help you reach your goals. Let’s jump right in.
Why Do We Snack?
When browsing the internet for information on why we snack, the words ‘boredom’, ‘comfort,’ and ‘stress’ seem to come up time and time again. Although these are reasons why some people snack throughout the day, it’s important to remember that snacking is natural and can be a healthy part of your diet if you choose to eat nutritional foods and to monitor your consumption.
The difference between comfort eating cookies at midday and nibbling nuts after your workout is clear to see, and yet many of us struggle to separate unhealthy emotion-driven snacking from conscious healthy snacking that can help to boost cognitive focus, fuel the body before and after a workout, and even prevent overeating at mealtimes.
So why do we snack? Well, that’s a very good question, and the answer varies tremendously from person to person. Some people snack intentionally, while others snack mindlessly. Some people turn to snacks to fulfill their emotional needs, whereas others snack for practical reasons.
Clearly, the real question here should be, why do you snack? So take a moment to think back to the last time you remember snacking - what food did you choose? Why did you decide to snack at that time? Was it a planned snack or a spontaneous choice? Were you hungry, bored, tired, or stressed? Take a second to really think about why you were snacking at that moment, and then try to ask yourself the same questions the next time you find yourself snacking. By analyzing your own thought patterns and behaviors, you should soon find an answer that is personal to you.
Is Snacking Healthy?
When incorporated alongside a balanced diet, snacking can be a healthy way to stay energized, but ultimately snacking is as healthy as you make it; and this comes down to the foods you eat and how much of them you consume.
Generally speaking, a healthy snack is one that provides your body with nutritional value, and healthy snacking should be mindful so as to prevent the overconsumption of excess calories.
How To Enjoy Snacks Throughout The Day In A Healthy Way
Here at Ayoub’s Dried Fruit and Nuts, we’re big advocates for healthy snacking, but we still recognize that for some people, the line between unhealthy and healthy snacking can seem a little blurry. So here are our top tips to help you enjoy snacks in a healthy way.
Know What You’re Eating
A lot of popular snacks are high in saturated fat, salt, and sugar, which can make them very calorific without providing much nutritional benefit. Start reading the nutrition labels on the snacks you buy and try to stick to snacks that are based around whole-foods that are high in fiber and protein rather than carbohydrates.
Substitute Unhealthy Snacks For Healthier Alternatives
If reading the nutrition labels of your favorite snacks has left you feeling a little despondent, don’t give up on snacking just yet. Start replacing unhealthy snacks with healthier alternatives that contain less salt, saturated fat, and sugar. Some swaps to consider include:
- Potato crisps for popcorn or unsalted nuts
- Sweets and confectionary for dried fruit
- Sugary granola bars for homemade protein balls
- Corn puffs for roasted chickpeas
- Pretzels for pumpkin seeds
Practice Portion Control
Even healthy snacks can become unhealthy if you consume too many of them, and so the key to enjoying snacks as a part of a healthy diet is to practice portion control. To prevent overeating, try to weigh out your snack portions in advance and be mindful that higher calorie options, such as nuts, will mean eating smaller amounts than, say, less calorie-dense foods like popcorn.
At times, it can feel like the world is against making it easy to snack in a healthy way. Vending machines and grocery stores are often filled with convenient but unhealthy snack options, which can be tempting when hunger strikes. To prevent temptation, try to plan ahead and keep a healthier snack option tucked away in your desk drawer, handbag, or somewhere else close by.
Try To Snack Mindfully
We’ve all been there - one minute we’re opening a bag of chips, and the next, our fingers are dipping into the bag only to find it’s empty. This is a prime example of mindless snacking, and it usually results in overeating. Instead of snacking at your desk or while preoccupied, try to devote your full attention to the food you are eating. Eat mindfully, chew slowly, and think about the flavors and textures you are experiencing. Eating mindfully has been proven to reduce overeating and can help you to get more enjoyment out of the food you eat.
Can You Lose Weight And Still Snack?
It’s a common misconception that snacking throughout the day will stop you from losing weight. It is perfectly possible to enjoy healthy snacks between your meals and to still meet your weight loss goals, so long as you are mindful of the total calories that you eat throughout the day. Carefully planned snacks can help to prevent hunger cravings between larger meals and can even reduce the amount you eat when you finally sit down to enjoy your lunch or dinner.
The Best Snacks For Weight Loss
When trying to lose weight, it can be tempting to stick to extremely low-calorie snacks such as celery or carrot sticks. Although low-calorie snacks have their place and can be great when you’re approaching your calorie limit, generally speaking, snacks that have very few calories also lack the fiber and protein needed to keep you feeling full, and, therefore, low-calorie snackers often find themselves feeling hungry again and looking for something else to eat. If you’re planning weight loss snacks, then it is best to focus on snacks that contain a high amount of dietary fiber and protein as these two nutrients will help you to feel satiated. Here are some examples:
Nuts are nature’s perfect snack and contain a variety of essential nutrients, all packed into a small, crunchy, and delicious package. High in protein, healthy fats, and fiber to keep you feeling full, there’s no need to worry about nuts squashing in the bottom of your bag - they’re convenient, easy to transport, and easy to eat. There are lots of different nuts to choose from - check out our range here.
- Dried Fruit and Jerky
Dried fruit and jerky may seem like an odd combination, but trust us, it’s delicious! Popular in fitness circles, dried fruit and jerky is a sweet and savory alternative to fruit and nut mix and will satisfy even the strongest snack craving. While the jerky provides plenty of lean protein, dried fruit offers important dietary fiber and a touch of sweetness, which makes this combo perfect for weight loss snacks. If you aren’t a fan of meat jerky, then why not try a vegan jerky alternative instead? When choosing which dried fruit to eat, try to stick to unsweetened varieties.
- Roasted Chickpeas
If you’ve never tried a roasted chickpea before then, you’re in for a treat! Once baked in the oven, the humble chickpea turns into something magical. Crunchy, satisfying, and incredibly tasty, roasted chickpeas are a brilliant plant-based protein source, and they also contain 6g of fiber per half-cup serving! Eat them plain or sprinkle them with some salt or spices for the perfect healthier alternative to pretzels or potato chips.
- Homemade Protein Balls or Protein Bars
Believe it or not, most granola bars that are marketed as ‘healthy’ actually contain just as much sugar as a candy bar! Once you start to read the labels of the foods you eat, you soon realize how many health-food products are actually not very healthy for you at all! Although there are some nutritious protein and granola bars out there, the best way to ensure that what you’re eating is actually healthy is to make it yourself. Homemade protein balls, protein bars, and granola bars can be made super-easily with minimal equipment and simple whole-food ingredients like nuts, seeds, and fruit. Here are some recipes that may inspire you.
- Pumpkin or Sunflower Seeds
Seeds are another great weight-loss snack because they are high in protein, healthy fats, and important dietary fiber, which helps to keep you feeling full even long after you’ve taken your last bite. For an extra fiber boost, look for whole pumpkin seeds that still have their husk attached. Whole pumpkin seeds have double the amount of fiber as shelled pumpkin seeds, which makes them super satiating. Like nuts, seeds are also super convenient and can be easily munched on the go wherever you are, making them perfect for the office or for people who lead active lifestyles.
Popcorn can also make a fantastic weight-loss snack, so long as you’re popping it yourself at home and not buying it from the cinema covered in butter or sugar! The light and airy texture of popcorn make it great for volume eaters and grazers who enjoy working through a large bowl of food without consuming too many calories, and by popping it yourself at home, you also stay in control of your toppings. When consuming popcorn as a snack for weight loss, plain is always best, but if you have a sweet or savory craving, then a gentle, measured sprinkle of sugar or salt can help to kick it.
Are Nuts The Best Healthy Snack There Is?
When it comes to healthy snacks, nutritionists seem to agree that nuts rule supreme as the best healthy snack there is. But what is it about nuts that makes them such a great snack option? Let’s take a look.
- Nuts Are A Great Source Of Fiber
One of the key components of any healthy snack is fiber! Aside from keeping the digestive system in good working order, fiber also plays a critical role in making you feel full. Pecans, pistachios, almonds, and hazelnuts are four fiber-filled nuts to consider, but for an added fiber boost, why not mix them with some shredded coconut, which provides a whopping 7.2g of fiber per 1 cup serving.
- Nuts Contain Antioxidants
Antioxidants are compounds that inhibit oxidation - a process that can lead to cell damage and aging. Nuts such as almonds, walnuts, and hazelnuts are a brilliant source of the antioxidant vitamin E and polyphenols, which help combat cell damage.
- Nuts Keep Your Heart Healthy
Research has found that eating nuts such as peanuts, walnuts, and tree nuts every day can help to reduce a person’s risk of heart disease or stroke. This is because nuts contain a healthy type of fat known as monounsaturated fat, which lowers bad cholesterol levels in the blood. Even eating just a small portion of nuts a day has been shown to have a positive impact on heart health - so eat away!
- Nuts Are Good For Your Immune System
Nuts really are nutrient powerhouses and cram a lot of vitamins and minerals into their compact shells. Aside from being fantastic sources of vitamin E, nuts such as Brazils and almonds also contain vitamin B and magnesium, which help to fight inflammation and infection.
- Nuts Are Satisfying
We’ve already mentioned that nuts are full of fiber, but the fiber isn’t the only nutrient that can help to keep you feeling full. As well as being a great fiber source, nuts are also packed with protein, which takes longer to digest and therefore prolongs the feeling of fullness.
- Nuts Are Convenient
The final reason why nuts are one of the best healthy snacks there is has nothing to do with their nutritional composition and everything to do with their convenience. Unlike other popular snack options such as fruit, tinned tuna, granola bars, and boiled eggs, nuts are easy to transport, they don’t carry an unpleasant odor, they can be eaten with your hands, and they don’t mind it being hot or cold outside.
Is Dried Fruit Really A Healthy Snack?
Here at Ayoub’s, we love dried fruit, but sadly not everyone agrees with us, and some people think that dried fruit is just as unhealthy as candy. Over the years, many different foods and food groups have come under fire from the diet industry, and when it was the turn of sugar, dried fruit came under fire too.
How Could Dried Fruit Be Bad For You?
The problem with dried fruit is its sugar content. At the end of the day, dried fruit is simply a whole fruit that has had its water content removed. This means that by weight, dried fruit contains a lot more sugar than the whole fruit, which can lead to some scary sugar numbers. To make matters worse, some dried fruits, such as cranberries, which are notoriously sour, are often dried with added sugar to make them more palatable.
So Can Dried Fruit Ever Be Healthy?
Of course, it can! Although dried fruit may be higher in sugar than whole fruit, it seems absurd to compare it like for like with candy given that a portion of dried fruit also provides essential dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and all the other good stuff that is found in the whole fruit. Ultimately, it isn’t dried fruit that is the problem; it’s how much of it we eat!
How To Consume Dried Fruit In A Healthy Way
The key to eating dried fruit in a healthy way comes down to three key things:
When consumed in moderation, dried fruit is a delicious alternative to less nutritious sweet foods. To prevent overeating, try to weigh out your portion in advance and never eat dried fruit straight from the bag, as it's just too tempting to keep going! Remember that a portion of dried fruit is often considerably smaller than a portion of whole fruit, so you may want to bulk out your snack with something such as jerky, which is protein-dense.
Which Dried Fruits You Eat
Not all dried fruit is created equal, and some contain a lot more sugar than others. To reduce your sugar intake, keep an eye out for unsweetened dried fruit, and stay away from candied varieties.
Total Sugars In Your Diet
Finally, the amount of dried fruit you can eat will depend on how much sugar your diet allows. If you are diabetic or are following a low sugar diet, then you may need to limit your portions of dried fruit even further.
What About Sulfites?
Sulfites are a compound that is often added to dried fruits to prevent them from changing color. Without added sulfites, fruits such as apricots turn brown rather than retaining their vivid orange color. Most people can consume sulfites safely; however, people who are particularly sensitive to them may experience side effects. If you’re at all worried about consuming sulfites, then it’s best to stick to natural dried fruits and to check the label.
What Are The Best Healthy Snacks To Eat At Work?
Snacking at work isn’t just about curbing pesky hunger cravings but is also about increasing productivity and job satisfaction. A study of 20,000 workers found that those who ate healthy foods throughout the day were 25% more likely to have higher job performance. What’s more, 83% of employees say that having snacks provided in the office is a huge perk. Whether your employer provides you with free healthy snacks or not, here are some of the best healthy snacks to take into the workplace.
What Makes A Good Workplace Snack?
The best workplace snacks are healthy and satiating, but there are also some other things to take into consideration if you’re bringing food into work.
- Will your snack stand up to your daily commute? Or will it crumble, bruise or squash easily?
- Will your snack survive at room temperature, or does it need to be refrigerated?
- Does your snack have a pungent odor, or is it inoffensive?
- Is your snack easy to eat, or does it require cutlery?
If you work from home, then these questions probably don’t apply to you, but in an office environment, it’s essential to bear in mind who you share your space with and how well your snack will stand up throughout the day - no tins of fish or boiled eggy smells, please!
Workplace Snack Ideas
With the above questions in mind, here are some of our suggestions for delicious, healthy, and nutritious workplace snacks that won’t make you the enemy of the office.
- Unsweetened Dried Fruits
Unsweetened dried fruit is a great alternative to fresh fruit if you often find that your banana, apple, peach, or pear has squished in the bottom of your bag or turned furry in the back of your desk drawer.
If you’re a fan of grazing but find that your office snacks tend to disappear too quickly, then swap your usual bag of potato chips for some lightly salted whole pistachios. By buying pistachios in their shells, you give your hands something to do, which should slow down your snacking and will also help to provide natural fullness cues to the brain.
- Fruit And Nut Mix
Fruit and nut mix will always be the perfect workplace snack. While the nuts provide you with a great source of fiber, healthy fats, and protein to keep you feeling full, the dried fruit adds some much-needed sweetness and texture. To keep things healthy, always weigh out your portions in advance, and stick to unsweetened fruits where possible.
- Chia Pudding
If you have a refrigerator at work, then chia pudding is a great alternative to yogurt or other dessert cups. When combined with dairy or non-dairy milk, protein-packed chia seeds plump up to form a gelatinous pudding texture that can easily be flavored with your favorite ingredients.
- Veggie Chips
If you usually snack on potato chips and find yourself craving some salty crunch to see you through the day, then try munching on vegetable crisps instead. Beetroot, carrot, parsnip, and okra all make tasty alternatives to the humble potato, which also provide a little more nutritional value.
What To Snack On Pre and Post Workout
So you’ve got your workplace snacks to see you through the day, but what do you pack to eat before and after hitting the gym?
Why Do You Need To Eat Before A Workout?
Although some people prefer to workout on an empty stomach, fasting before your gym session can actually inhibit your performance because it forces your body to look for alternative sources of energy. By eating a snack at least half an hour before a gym session, your body has access to readily available energy, so you can workout harder and get more from your gym session.
The Best Snacks To Eat Before A Workout
Before a workout, your body needs a balanced snack of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats. To avoid indigestion and to give your body time to start processing these nutrients, it’s best to consume your snack at least 30 minutes in advance. Here are some of the best pre-workout snacks to choose from.
Seed Or Nut Butter With A Banana
Seed and nut butter are fantastic and convenient sources of healthy fats and protein. For an extra carb boost - try spreading them onto a banana or some apple slices.
Fruit And Nut Mix
It goes without saying, but fruit and nut mix also make a great pre-workout snack. Nuts provide protein and healthy fats, while the dried fruit provides carbohydrates for quick-release energy.
A Smoothie With Added Nut Butter
If you’d rather drink your snacks that eat them, then a smoothie of banana, spinach, and strawberry with some nut butter and dairy or non-dairy milk is a delicious combination that can be consumed on the go. Carbohydrates from the fruit will give your muscles energy, and you’ll get plenty of healthy fats and protein from the nut butter.
Why Do You Need To Eat After A Workout?
After a grueling workout in the gym, your body will have used up all of its glycogen stores and will need to rebuild them as quickly as possible. If you don’t eat after your workout, then your body may start to break down your own muscle proteins, which can inhibit muscle growth and slow down your recovery.
The Best Post Workout Snacks
Generally speaking, most pre-workout snacks also make suitable post-workout snacks, but to help your body grow and repair its muscle tissue and rebuild its glycogen stores, you may want to pay closer attention to your protein intake. Some easy post-workout snacks to try include:
- Protein Shakes Or Protein Bars
Protein shakes, and protein bars are an easy way to consume a lot of protein after a workout. Protein powder is one way to add extra protein into a post-workout shake or snack, or you could add an extra tablespoon of nut butter instead.
- Chia Seed Pudding
Chia seeds are another great protein source that can be blended into your smoothies for a protein boost or made into a delicious chia pudding! Simply add dairy or nondairy milk to dry chia seeds and wait for them to plump up into a jelly-textured pudding! One great thing about chia seeds is that they have very little flavor and so can be made to taste like whatever you fancy!
- Boiled Eggs
Lastly, we couldn’t complete this shortlist without mentioning boiled eggs. Boiled eggs have been a staple protein source in the fitness industry for a very long time, and for a good reason - they’re cheap, convenient, and taste good too! If you’re trying to consume extra calories after your workout, then dip your eggs in mayo.
Snacking For Muscle Gain
If gaining muscle is your goal, then it’s vital to pay special attention to the protein and calorie content of the snacks you eat. When your body is growing muscle tissue, it needs to consume more protein and more calories, which is great for snack lovers! Here are some energy-dense and protein-packed snack ideas to consume throughout the day.
- Mixed nuts
We’ve said it a dozen times already, but nuts really are the perfect snack, and if you’re trying to build muscle, you can eat more of them - hooray!
- Boiled Eggs And Cashews
This may seem like an odd combination but hear us out. Boiled eggs have always been a popular fitness snack, but if you’re trying to eat more calories, that could mean eating many eggs! Rather than consuming too many eggs, it’s best to pair them with an energy-dense partner such as cashew nuts to increase the calorie content of your snack without the eggy side effects.
- Pumpkin Seeds
Although nuts often take the limelight, seeds are also a brilliant energy-dense and protein-packed snack. Just one serving (28g) of pumpkin seeds contains a massive 7g of protein, making them the perfect protein-booster to snack on throughout the day.
How To Get Your Hands On Healthy Snacks Over The Internet
Online shopping has boomed in recent years, and thanks to the global pandemic, it really took off in 2020. Today, there’s not a lot that you can’t buy on the internet, but finding healthy snacks can still be tricky. Here are some of our tips to help you get your hands on your favorite healthy snacks.
Where To Buy Branded Favorites
If you always buy a particular brand of healthy snacks, then the best place to go is always the brand’s website. From here, if they don’t have an online store themselves, then they will usually point you in the direction of both online and in-store retailers who stock their products. Another great reason to check out the brand’s website first is that many offer a discount on their products in return for signing up for their newsletter, which can save you money on your first order.
Where To Buy Healthy Whole-Food Snacks
If it's nuts, seeds, dried fruits, or other healthy whole-food-based snacks that you’re looking for, then look no further than us here at Ayoub’s. We’re home to hundreds of healthy whole food snacks from cashews nuts to chia seeds, banana chips, to okra crisps. We have all of the healthy whole-foods that you could need. Our online store ships to customers all over Canada, from Coast-to-Coast, even including Vancouver Island! And we also ship to the US.
Where To Find New Healthy Snacks
If you’re bored with your usual healthy snacks, then one of the best places to find something new is by subscribing to a healthy snack subscription service. Once signed up, you can choose from a one-off box or a rolling subscription to have healthy snacks delivered straight to your door. Once you’ve found your new favorites, then you’ll be able to order them in bulk from the brand’s website or a local retailer. Another way to find new healthy snacks is to check out our own Combo snack boxes, which are filled with a selection of our bestselling whole-food snacks that we’re sure you will love.
Making Healthy Snacks Yourself
Lastly, don’t forget that so many delicious and healthy snacks can be rustled up at home in your kitchen. If you usually spend money on protein or granola bars, then why not make your own to save money and give yourself the peace of mind that you know exactly what went into them. The internet is full of delicious healthy snack recipes, so why not create a wish-list of recipes to try on a rainy day?
Choosing Ayoub’s For Your Healthy Snacks
We understand that shopping online, especially with a new company, involves a lot of trust so let us introduce ourselves.
Hi! We’re Ayoub’s Dried Fruit and Nuts, and we are nuts about nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and other snacks. Ayoub’s was founded in the early 1980s by Chef Ayoub, who had a passion for hand-roasting nuts to perfection. Over the years, Ayoub’s has grown to sell a variety of other healthy snack foods, including seeds, dried fruits, and vegetable crisps, but our hand-roasted nuts have remained at the heart of everything we do. Today, Ayoub’s is still a family run business and is now run by Amir, Chef Ayoub’s son, who has continued to expand the foods on offer. We have five store locations across Canada but reach a far wider audience through our online Ayoub’s store, which offers delivery Canada wide and to the US.
Here are a few reasons why we are now the go-to store for healthy-snack lovers!
We Are The Home Of Dried Fruit, Nuts, Seeds And More
At Ayoub’s, we are proud to specialize in dried fruits and nuts - they’re even in our name - but we also know a thing or two about seeds, spices, and nibbles! We’ve been roasting our own nuts for quite some time and have developed our unique roasting ovens and techniques to help us achieve the perfect flavor.
We Provide Our Customers With Variety
Most grocery stores stock at least a couple of different nuts, but we stock dozens allowing us to provide our customers with a real variety of options, including raw and roasted nuts in a plethora of seasonings, including lightly salted, lime and pepper, lime and saffron, and spicy. As for seeds, we have whole or skinned, raw or roasted, salted, or thoroughly seasoned to tickle your fancy. If you’re hunting for deliciously dried fruit, then we have all of your family favorites as well as some exotic extras that you might not be able to find elsewhere. Variety is the spice of life - and we certainly have variety!
We Never Compromise On Quality
Lastly, the reason why our customers come back to us, again and again, is that we never compromise on quality. We work closely with a very select group of suppliers and growers to bring you the very best of the best every time without fail. But our quality control doesn’t stop there. As a family business, we take pride in the appearance of our stores and the delivery of our orders and endeavor to give you the best Ayoub’s experience, whether you shop with us in-store or online.
So there you have it - we hope you’ve got to know us a little better and feel more informed about healthy snacking.
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