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Healthy Snacks for the Holidays

By Alexandra Dusenberry, MS, RDN

Lead Dietitian

With the holidays upon us, it’s time for gatherings, celebration, and special seasonal treats. For many of us, this can be a time of temptation and stress around our food choices. Throughout the season, we will be sharing our tips and tricks to stay on track with your health and nutrition goals, starting with snacks.

To snack or not to snack? When hunger strikes between meals, the right snacks can keep you feeling full and energized without derailing your health goals. When it comes to snacking, there are a few things to keep in mind for a solid snack strategy. First, it is essential to think about keeping blood sugar levels stable. If we choose a high carbohydrate or high sugar snack (like a candy bar, crackers, or chips) that isn’t balanced with some protein, healthy fat, or fiber, we can experience a rapid blood sugar spike followed by a blood sugar crash an hour or two later. This way of snacking isn’t sustainable for our energy levels, and will almost always leave us wanting more or send us searching for the next pick-me-up.

Be more mindful of sugar intake. Always check the label. As an example, perhaps you have blended up a fruit smoothie with almond milk, berries, banana, and a date for sweetness. This is a high carb snack! Even though the carbohydrate choices are healthy sources like fruit, without the stabilizing power of protein or fat, this smoothie will send us on a blood sugar rollercoaster. To keep it balanced, think about adding a protein like Greek yogurt or protein powder, and/or a healthy fat like almond butter, avocado, or hemp seeds and chia seeds. This method of balancing carbohydrates prevents energy crashes, squashes cravings for sweets, and keeps us feeling satisfied between meals.

Know your portions. Another thing to keep in mind when it comes to snacking is the portion size. If we are not mindful of portions, it can be all too easy to overeat or hit the bottom of the bag without realizing it! Those calories add up. Remember, it is a snack, not a full meal. Keep snacks in individual serving containers rather than in bulk. This tool allows you to see how much you are eating, and takes an extra step to consider if you really need to go back to the kitchen to get another helping. It can also be helpful to measure out higher calorie ingredients like peanut butter or avocado. When we eyeball amounts, we can easily over-serve ourselves by 100 calories or more.

Get those nutrients. An easy way to keep snacks on the nutritious side is to make them yourself! Any time we can make homemade snacks, we are able to control the ingredient quality and keep sugar, artificial ingredients, and inflammatory processed oils to a minimum.

Here are five healthy snacks that are quick and simple to make for the holiday season.

  • Organic popcorn- Did you know traditional microwave popcorn is filled with inflammatory oils like soybean oil, corn oil, and other types of hydrogenated oils? It is important for heart health and longevity to keep these types of saturated and trans fats minimal in the diet. Air-popped popcorn is a low calorie snack option that tastes delicious mixed with a beautiful seasoning blend. Try our organic Cal-a-Vie popcorn and seasonings- our signature paprika sesame blend, dill and vinegar, and spicy turmeric will all wake up your taste buds! Cal-a-Vie Popcorn & Seasoning Gift Set – Cal-a-Vie Boutique
  • Spiced nut trail mix- Get your heart-healthy fats in with a seasonal trail mix! Gather up your favorite nuts like almond, walnuts, and pecans. Add some antioxidant-rich goji berries or cacao nibs and toss the mix with pumpkin pie spice. Don’t have pumpkin pie spice? Use cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice for a DIY blend.
  • Yogurt parfait with granola- Layer unsweetened Greek yogurt with brain-boosting berries and a few tablespoons of low sugar granola for some crunch. Cal-a-Vie signature granola is lightly sweetened with banana and maple syrup, making it the perfect addition to a protein-packed yogurt parfait. Cal-a-Vie Granola – Cal-a-Vie Boutique
  • Energy balls- This is your opportunity to get creative! In a food processor, combine 1 cup oats, ½ cup of nut butter, a ½ cup of seeds (like chia, flax, hemp, or pumpkin), and 2-3 dates. Roll the mixture into balls and dust with a dash of cinnamon to tie it all together. Keep in the fridge and enjoy when you need a boost of energy, perhaps before a workout or hike!
  • Veggie crudité with Cal-a-Vie Carrot Hummus- Get your rainbow of vegetables in by enjoying them dipped in an autumnal twist on traditional hummus. The star ingredient is carrots, which provide beta carotene, a nutrient that supports the immune system, glowing skin, and vision. You can find this nutrient-rich recipe and many more in our newest cookbook, Beautiful Living. Beautiful Living Cookbook – Cal-a-Vie Boutique

Carrot Hummus Recipe

From our newest cookbook: Beautiful Living, Cooking the Cal-a-Vie Health Spa Way

This brightly colored hummus is a great complement to any vegetable crudité. If you are looking to be creative, you can also make this a filling for deviled eggs instead of using mayo and yolk.

6 Carrots, peeled and chopped into evenly sized, large pieces

2 garlic cloves

2 teaspoons fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

½ teaspoon paprika

2 tablespoons tahini

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Kosher or sea salt

In a medium saucepan, add the carrots, garlic, and ginger. Cover with water and cook until tender. Drain and cool. Add the cooked carrot mixture, paprika, tahini, and lemon juice to a food processor and puree until smooth. Adjust the seasoning with salt to taste. Store in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.

Bon Appétit!

 

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