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Food Bites with Dr. Hyman – Finding Quick and Easy Afternoon Snacks

Food Bites with Dr. Hyman – Finding Quick and Easy Afternoon Snacks

Katie A asks: “What should I eat in the afternoon to keep me from eating anything and everything in site when I get home from work?”

Dear Katie –

You know the scenario. It’s 3 p.m., healthy snacks are nowhere in sight, and the foods you have sworn off suddenly look like the most amazingly delicious treat that you deserve.

You reason with yourself… “A couple of bites of salty chips, greasy fries, that candy bar, or that bubbly soda – what’s the harm, right? I’ve been good…”

I know firsthand how this conversation with yourself goes and how we feel after the couple of bites. But there is plenty of harm done and here’s why. About 20 minutes after you indulge in junk food, your blood sugar crashes. Cravings for more sweet or salty foods skyrocket with an even stronger vengeance. Suddenly you feel tired and grumpy as your insulin increases. Before you know it, all self-control and good intentions dissipate. You feel physically uncomfortable yet still hungry. Mentally and emotionally, you become frustrated.

It doesn’t have to be this way, and I’m here to help. Remember this equation to ward off these snack attacks:

protein + fat + low-glycemic carbs = satisfaction

Here’s why:

PROTEIN nourishes while satiating hunger and sustains you through the afternoon without another thought of food.

FAT. Many people fear fat because the food industry and the media have demonized it. The fact is we need fat – healthy fat, that is. When we don’t eat it, we crave junky foods. When we do eat enough healthy fat, we feel full and satisfied. Choose healthy fats, such as avocado, nuts, seeds, coconut, eggs, jerky, tahini or olives, to curb your appetite and be less likely to overeat.

CARBOHYDRATES. Another confusing message to consumers is that all carbs are bad. It is true that carbs such as high-glycemic, processed, flour-based snack foods are junky and harmful. However, low-glycemic, nutrient-rich carbs from naturally sweet, real foods like sweet vegetables, fruits, and non-gluten whole grains can help banish cravings.

Stick with these 3 rules for healthy snacking and you will win the afternoon snack wars:

  1. Choose a protein-based snack that includes healthy fat and low-glycemic carbohydrates
  2. Eat an afternoon snack 2 or 3 hours after your lunch
  3. Plan ahead and find portable, easy snacks you enjoy munching on

My go-to afternoon snacks, perfect for the whole family, are Energy Balls. Fun to make (have your kids help), Energy Balls come loaded with healthy fats, protein, and some carbs to fuel your afternoon. Below are two variations that are sure to satisfy the whole family.

Carrot Cake Energy Balls

Serves = 9
Prep Time = 25 minutes (plus 30 minutes chill time)
Cook Time = None

Ingredients:

2 medium carrots
12 dates (or 1/2 cup), pitted, chopped
1 cup pecans, toasted
1/4 cup macadamia nuts or walnuts
1 teaspoon real vanilla
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger, freshly grated
pinch sea salt
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

Instructions:
Blend the carrots and the dates together in a food processor for about 2 to 3 minutes, or until evenly combined.

Add the pecans and macadamia nuts and process for another 2 to 3 minutes or until a smooth texture forms. Scrape down the sides of the processor bowl, as needed.

Add the vanilla and all the spices and blend until combined.

Form the balls by rolling the carrot mixture into 18 balls, about 1-inch in diameter each.

Spread the coconut flakes on a plate, and roll the balls in the flakes to coat evenly.

Refrigerate for about 30 minutes before enjoying. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Nutritional analysis per serving (2 balls): calories 154, fat 12 g, saturated fat 2 g, cholesterol 0 mg, fiber 3 g, protein 2 g, carbohydrate 13 g, sodium 38 mg

And for the grown-ups – these Green Tea Matcha Balls are better than any run to Starbucks or your local coffee shop. Skip the sugary lattes and munch on real food to provide you real energy!

Matcha Green Tea Fudge Balls

Serves = 10
Prep Time = 15 minutes (plus, 40 minutes chill time)
Cook Time = None

Ingredients:

10 dates (1/2 cup), pitted, chopped
1/4 cup cashew butter (almond butter would work nicely too)
2 teaspoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons raw cacao powder (cocoa powder works fine as well)
pinch sea salt
1 tablespoon Matcha green tea powder, plus 1 teaspoon for dusting
1 teaspoon real vanilla

Instructions:
Blend the dates and the cashew butter together in a food processor for about 2 to 3 minutes, or until evenly combined.

Add the coconut oil, cacao powder, salt, 1 tablespoon matcha, and vanilla and process for another 2 to 3 minutes or until a smooth texture forms. Scrape down the sides of the processor bowl as needed.

Place Matcha mixture in the fridge to chill for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, spread the remaining matcha powder on a plate. Remove the mixture from the fridge and roll into 10 balls, about 1-inch in diameter. Place each ball on the plate so that one side is lightly coated with the Matcha.

Refrigerate for about 30 minutes before enjoying. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Nutritional analysis per serving (2 balls): calories 175, fat 10 g, saturated fat 4 g, cholesterol 0 mg, fiber 4 g, protein 4 g, carbohydrate 18 g, sodium 128 mg

Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD.

Mark Hyman MD is the Head of Strategy and Innovation, Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine, the Founder of The UltraWellness Center, and a ten-time #1 New York Times Bestselling author.

If you are looking for personalized medical support, we highly recommend contacting Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts today.