Issue 12  •  Spring 2013

Snacks with a One-Two Punch

Written by Marguerite Nowak
Ever feel shaky on the treadmill? Or like you just can’t get through that kickboxing DVD? This obviously doesn’t feel good and definitely isn’t healthy. There could be many reasons that you feel this way, but one may simply be that you are hungry.
Ever feel shaky on the treadmill? Or like you just can’t get through that kickboxing DVD? This obviously doesn’t feel good and definitely isn’t healthy. There could be many reasons that you feel this way, but one may simply be that you are hungry.

While you probably shouldn’t work out right after you scarf down dinner, you also need energy. Training for half-marathons, I’ve learned the hard way that there is nothing worse than getting hungry on a long run. At the same time, no one wants to burp up a cheeseburger.

With this in mind, I compiled a list of snacks that are tasty, filling, and not too heavy:

1. My favorite is a piece of whole wheat toast with peanut butter on it. It’s a great combination because you have carbs to give you immediate energy, and when they burn through, you have a little bit of protein to fuel you through a long workout.
 
2. Trail Mix—you can buy it almost anywhere and you can even make your own. To make a great trail mix, put everything you like into it! Personally, I hate peanuts, and they are in most store-bought mixes. Almonds, walnuts, dried cranberries, raisins, banana chips, maybe even a few chocolate chips, are much better. Start with a 1⁄4 cup of all the ingredients you want to use, and mix them in a bowl. If there is something you want more of, just add it, but make sure you go lighter on the chocolate or peanut butter chips (remember that this is supposed to be, uh-hum, health food)! Before a workout, eat about 1⁄4 cup—just enough to give you energy but not enough to make you sick!
 
Tip: Trader Joe's, or a health food store where you can buy nuts in bulk is usually more affordable than regular supermarkets.

3. Smoothies are another great healthy snack—all you need is a blender! My favorite smoothie includes 1 cup of frozen berries, a little bit of fruit juice, and a banana for potassium; throw them all in the blender and go to town! If you like your smoothies less thick, add more juice. Another great option is to throw 1⁄2 cup of low fat yogurt in. It makes the smoothie creamier and is a great way to get some calcium, protein, and a serving of dairy. It also makes a great breakfast! Like the trail mix, experiment with different things you can find. If you like citrus fruits, look for frozen pineapples. Use orange juice or try some of the fresh summertime peaches. Frozen fruit is a great way to go because you don’t need to use ice cubes and it’s convenient (you can usually find it next to the frozen vegetables in the supermarket).

Hopefully, these suggestions will help curb your low energy. Have fun! Mix things up! And enjoy!
 
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Power Bars: What to Look For
By Marguerite Nowak

Energy bars are all over the place: entire aisles of them at the supermarket, next to gum at the drugstore, in the gym lobby. “High-protein,” “low-carb,” “fat-free,” “low-calorie”—what do they all mean, really, and how can we choose the right bar for us?

Despite what many wrappers advertise, certain bars taste more like metal and chemicals than chocolate with raspberry frosting. Flip over the package and look at the ingredient list to figure out what’s in it. Bars like Odwalla, Clif, LUNA, and Trader Joe’s are made from fruits, nuts, and grains, like oat and rice. They may taste better because the vitamins the bar offers will be from the food instead of added in.

In addition to considering taste (which is very important), think about what you are using the power bar for. Some bars pack as many calories as a small meal. Others are listed as low-carb, meaning they will most likely be high in protein and won’t deliver a lot of energy during a workout—and low-carb doesn’t mean low in fat or calories. The nutrition facts on the back of the wrapper will show you the percentage of calories from fat. Since it’s just a snack, you don’t want to pick one that has 30% of your daily allowance of fat. You also don’t want to pick one that has 500 calories that mainly come from sugar. Energy bars can be great on-the-go snacks, especially if you are on the way to dance class or soccer practice after a full day of school. They make, however, pretty terrible lunches.

Granola bars, like energy bars, span the gamut. Some—like the ones chock full of chocolate, peanut butter, and marshmallows—are yummy, but they are also more similar to a candy bar than granola in stick form. While these granola bars can be healthier treats, they may not help fuel an intense study session or after-school sports practice. Decide why you want to eat one, then choose wisely.

Unlike many things in life, not all snacks are created equally. I hope, however, that these suggestions will help you find the bar that is right for you!

Photo by Jon Feinstein

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