healthy snacks + why they’re so important
eating well is obviously the foundation of good overall health, but as always, it’s much easier said than done. so many things get in the way of maintaining a healthy, balanced diet, and for me one of the biggest obstacles has always been … snacks.
often, my day goes a little something like this: healthy breakfast: check. healthy lunch: check. 3 o’clock hunger pains: check. eat a healthy snack: check. still feel hungry 15 minutes later and proceed to stuff my face with anything i can get my hands on: check check check. you see where i’m going with this.
anyone who is a regular over here at bananas + bellinis knows that over everything, i believe that balance is the most important aspect to being healthy and happy. and with that being said, i don’t think there is anything wrong with having a cookie or some chips as an afternoon pick-me-up every once-in-a-while, but the majority of the time, your snacks need to be as healthy as possible for a couple of reasons:
1. the type of snacks we eat will determine how we function for the rest of the day. the food we eat not only affects the way we feel, but the way we think, too. if we eat something that’s loaded with sugar, we’ll do the old “crash and burn” not long after, both physically and mentally.
2. how we snack determines how we eat our major meals. if we eat a snack that leaves us feeling hungry, we’re much more likely to overeat at our next meal, or end up having a late night snack, than if we were to eat a snack that fills us up with the good stuff [healthy carbs and fats, fiber, and protein].
3. unhealthy snacks mean processed ingredients [aka alien food] and lots of [empty] calories. most packaged snacks that we find in grocery stores, bodegas and vending machines have tons of ingredients in them that we can’t even pronounce, let alone determine what exactly they are, and those types of ingredients come with calories that serve no purpose in fueling our bodies.
so, to sum it all up, eating healthy snacks is just as important as eating a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner. not only do healthy snacks set you up for eating healthfully throughout the day, they also keep you fueled up in the right ways so that you can be as productive as possible while staying focused and maintaining high energy levels.
the key to being able to consciously snack throughout the day is by making sure that healthy snacks are easier for you to get your paws on than the unhealthy ones are. so plan ahead! find some options that you’ll easily be able to take with you on your way out the door each morning. having healthy snacks that you can get to by mid-day without much thought will reduce the chances of you heading out of the office at 2:30 for some sh*tty pre-packaged cookies from the bodega on the corner.
need some ideas for healthy snacks that are easy to take with you on the go? check out this post from the snacknation blog: 42 health experts reveal their top healthy office snacks … my personal favorites? cashews, hummus and veggies, dark chocolate, and finally, half of a banana with almond butter and honey!
photo courtesy of the scent of oranges
sesame sweet potato fries
i don’t know about you, but sweet potatoes are one of my obsessions, only behind avocado toast, brussels sprouts and pizza. seriously. serve them to me in any form and I’ll be a happy camper. with that being said, sweet potatoes fries are without a doubt my favorite variety and are typically a great replacement for regular french fries [as long as they aren’t fried in vegetable oil, covered in brown sugar or served with a side of honey].
i found white sweet potatoes at the grocery store the other day [has anyone else ever seen these?!] and decided to do a little experimenting … what I ended up with were these [baked!] sesame sweet potato fries.
you will need:
- 3 large sweet potatoes [white sweet potatoes work, too!], peeled
- 1/4 c. toasted sesame oil
- 2 tbsp. gomasio [i like this black + tan version from eden organics]
- pepper to taste
- preheat oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
- after you have peeled your sweet potatoes, chop them up into long chunks, the thickness can be up to you [you’ll want them to look similar to fries].
- place the chunks in a large bowl and toss with sesame oil and gomasio [if you find you need a little more than what the recipe calls for, you can add it here].
- spread the fries on the baking sheet, evenly distributing them the best you can.
- bake at 425°F for 30 minutes, flipping them halfway through.
- remove from the oven and let cool. season with pepper [and a little extra salt if you would like] to taste.
- serve with a side of sriracha or ketchup and enjoy!
roasted peppers with herbed goat cheese
well, hello there! long time no see. sorry that i have been m.i.a. for the past few days. as you probably already know, i am in the process of relocating to l.a., and i spent last weekend celebrating with my friends, packing up my apartment and saying goodbye to new york. tuesday, my parents and i packed up the minivan and drove back to my hometown, where i will be relaxing and regrouping for the next three weeks… then i’m west coast bound!
being that today officially kicks off everyone’s favorite weekend of summer, the 4th of july, i figured a bbq approved, crowd pleasing recipe is something you could use, whether you find yourself as a host[ess] or a guest this weekend!
these roasted peppers with goat cheese are one of my go-to recipes. they are so easy to make and i haven’t found anyone who doesn’t seem to like these babies.
for 8-12 pepper wedges you will need:
- 2 large bell peppers
- 4 oz. soft goat cheese seasoned with herbs de provence [you can find this in most grocery stores]
- 2 tsp. all-natural, organic honey
- turn your oven’s broiler on high and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
- remove stems and slice the peppers into wedges about 1″ thick and remove seeds.
- place the peppers on the cookie sheet with the inside facing up and broil in the over for 10-15 minutes, until the edges start to blacken and the peppers are somewhat soft [see below].
- remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes.
- drizzle with honey [less is more here] and then spread a generous amount of goat cheese on each slice.
- serve warm or cover and refrigerate to serve later!
vegan chocolate chip banana zucchini muffins
alright, i knowww that i just posted a banana bread recipe last week, but i whipped these muffins up over the weekend and they turned out so well that I felt obligated to share the recipe, especially after a few of my coworkers asked for it as well. these chocolate chip banana zucchini muffins can be made using one bowl, so clean up is super quick and easy and they’re vegan, low sugar and made with coconut oil and whole wheat flour, essentially making them equivalent to salad. this recipe makes about 12 medium sized muffins.
you will need:
- 1/4 c. cane sugar
- 1/4 c. coconut palm sugar
- 1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
- 1/3 c. coconut oil
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 c. mashed bananas [about 2-3 medium ripe bananas]
- 1 1/4 c. [loosely packed] shredded zucchini [i shredded mine with a veggetti]
- 1 1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour [i like bob’s red mill]
- 1 tbs. baking powder
- pinch of sea salt
- 1/3 c. vegan dark chocolate chips [optional]
preheat the oven to 400° and grease a muffin/cupcake tray with coconut oil [liners are not required for this recipe].
- whisk together the first 6 ingredients [sugars, applesauce, coconut oil, vanilla, cinnamon] in a large bowl.
- add the mashed bananas and whisk together.
- take the shredded zucchini and place it on a paper towel. place a second paper towel on top of the zucchini and press [with some muscle!] to draw out the excess water.
- add the zucchini to the bowl and mix together.
- throw in the flour [in 1/2 cup increments], baking powder and sea salt and mix with a wooden spoon, but be sure not to mix it too well.
- add chocolate chips [if using] and stir until evenly distributed.
- Using a tablespoon, scoop batter into muffin tray, filling each cup about 3/4 full.
- bake at 400° for 10 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 350° for 8 minutes, or until you can stick a fork into the center of a muffin and pull it out clean.
- remove from the oven, let cool for 10-15 minutes, remove muffins from tray and enjoy!
dairy-free banana nut bread
who doesn’t love a good banana nut bread? i took this old favorite and made it a little bit healthier, without damaging the taste or quality… and it was actually super easy to do. i replaced the butter with applesauce, used less sugar than most traditional recipes typically call for and replaced white flour with whole wheat flour.
- 3 ripe bananas
- 1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
- 1/2 c. palm sugar
- 1/3 c. applesauce
- 1/2 c. chopped walnuts + extra for topping
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tsp. baking soda
preheat the oven to 350° and grease a 4×8 bread pan with coconut oil.
- peel and mash the bananas in a medium bowl.
- add the sugar, applesauce, egg, vanilla and baking soda to the bowl and combine well with the mashed bananas.
- fold in the flour 1/2 c. at a time until a thick batter has formed.
- add the walnuts, making sure they are evenly distributed in the batter.
- pour the batter into the bread pan and sprinkle the extra walnuts on top.
- bake at 350° for 45-60 minutes or until you can stick a fork into the center of the bread and it comes out clean.
- let cool, slice and serve with a side of coffee, tea or almond milk… enjoy!
toast, two ways
based on the title of this post, i know you might be thinking: “toast?! is this b*tch kidding me?!” obviously, toast can easily be one of the most boring and bland foods ever, but topping it with the right things can make it seriously awesome and super healthy.
lately i’ve been really into the whole avocado toast thing, but i also love the old almond butter and banana combo, as well. what’s best about toast is that you can really customize it and spice it up with whatever you might have on hand… fruit, eggs, veggies, seeds, nut butters, spices… you get the idea. here are my two favorite ways to top your toast for extra flavor and health benefits: one sweet, one savory. i prefer to use ezekiel’s 7 sprouted grain bread, but any whole wheat bread will do… none of that white sh*t, please.
- 1 slice of bread, toasted
- 1/2 of a banana, sliced
- fruit-based jelly of choice
- almond butter
- unsweetened coconut flakes
- chia seeds
instructions: after you’ve toasted the bread, spread the jelly onto the toast liberally and then sprinkle with chia seeds and coconut flakes. Place the bananas slices on top and drizzle with almond butter.
health benefits: potassium from the banana, healthy fat from the almond butter, protein from the chia seeds.
- 1 slice of bread, toasted
- 1/2 of an avocado
- chia seeds
- cayenne pepper
- sea salt
instructions: after the bread has been toasted, scoop the avocado out of the skin and mash onto the toast. sprinkle with cayenne and salt to taste and top with chia seeds.
health benefits: healthy fat from the avocado, protein from the chia seeds, and cayenne pepper helps to rev up the metabolism and clear out the sinuses.
enjoy either as a healthy breakfast, pre- or post-workout snack or an afternoon pick-me-up!
crispy apple walnut muffins
well, there’s no way around it. fall is here and i’m finally coming to terms with it. surprisingly, i’m finding that i’m actually kinda sorta mayyyybeeee a little bit excited. i’m sure that being in europe during the transition from summer to fall helped make it a little less depressing for me, but now that i’m home, one thing i’m really looking forward to is all of the fall baking and cooking i can start experimenting with and sharing with you… apple crisp and pumpkin pie, anyone?!
muffins have always been one of my favorite fall foods. there is something about them that makes me feel so warm and fuzzy inside, but i find myself avoiding them like the plague because of the high amounts of sugar they contain [often the sugar content exceeds the daily recommended intake of 25 grams… yes, in just one muffin]. i decided it was time to find a way to be able to enjoy eating a muffin for breakfast without having to consume all of the unhealthy stuff you typically find in store-bought and bakery-made versions [refined sugars, vegetable oils, white flour]. the result? these babies right here. these apple walnut muffins are gluten- and dairy-free, use coconut oil instead of vegetable oil, contain zero refined sugars and literally taste like a crisp fall day…. you’re gonna love them!
for about 12-15 apple walnut muffins, you will need:
- 1 1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
- 2 eggs
- 1 c. coconut oil, melted
- 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
- 3 c. gluten-free flour of your choice
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. nutmeg
- 2 c. apples, peeled, cored + diced [i used 2 medium sized gala apples]
- enough walnuts to sprinkle on top
- pre-heat the oven to 350° and line a muffin/cupcake tray with liners.
- mix together all of the wet ingredients [applesauce, eggs, coconut oil, vanilla].
- in a separate bowl, mix together all of the dry ingredients [flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg].
- combine the wet and dry ingredients, mix well and then add the apples, mixing until they are evenly distributed in the batter. the batter will be thick!
- scoop the batter into the lined muffin/cupcake tray, filling each about 3/4 full.
- sprinkle each muffin with as many walnuts as your heart desires.
- bake for 20-25 minutes.
- let cool and enjoy!
give these muffins a try this weekend and serve for breakfast with a hot cup of chai tea and a small side of plain yogurt. you’ll be feelin’ the fall spirit in no time!
do you have any favorite fall recipes?
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