Snacks Matter….

Snacks are

an essential part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Frequent small meals help to control appetite and cravings especially when the chosen snacks are nutritious. Sticking to a routine has helped keep us on track so we have pretty  much enjoyed the same snacks,  eaten at the same time of day (during the work week for sure)for the last 8 years. Boring you say, Not all!. At 10-1030 every morning we have a muffin. I bake a double batch every couple of weeks, recipes vary, and freeze them. At 3-330 every afternoon we  have granola, fruit with yogurt/almond milk or a homemade cookie and a piece of fruit.  This has helped eliminate the “2 in the afternoon, I need a nap” syndrome I suffered with for years and has cured the “I’m starving” syndrome after work which almost always led to overeating at supper. By eating these frequent small meals it keeps blood sugar levels more even throughout the day preventing spikes and drops in blood sugars which can lead to the above described syndromes as well as  irritability and mood swings.  Of course this only works when your snacks are chosen carefully and don’t include processed & packaged high fat, high sugar and high salt items.  Portions are important here, remembering that a SNACK is just that, a snack.  Take yogurt for instance. I don’t know about you but I go crazy everytime I stand in front of the yogurt shelves, overwhelmed by all the choices.  They all claim to be healthy. If you actually take the time to read the labels you will realize that many have too much sugar, too many artificial ingredients, too much fat, it’s all just too much! After trying all sorts of different brands I have decided on “Liberte 0% Plain Greek Yogurt”.  A snack serving size is usually 2 heaping tablespoons with 1/2 cup fruit (oranges or strawberries or blueberries or banana) and 1/8-1/4 cup of my homemade crunchy granola (recipe follows) and for those with a sweet tooth a drizzle of honey. Personally, I have never really been a fan of yogurt, a texture thing I think, but now and then I will indulge, but more often than not I would rather enjoy my granola with a cold 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk. However you eat it, I hope you enjoy this yummy crunchy granola. It’s not alot of work to make and best of all, you are in control of what is in it:)

Crunchy Granola

2 cups large flake oats

1 ½ cups barley flakes

½ oat bran

1 cup unsweetened coconut

¼ tsp salt

1 cup hazelnuts, coarsely chopped OR

1 cup whole raw almonds

½ cup raw pumpkin seeds

½ cup raw sunflower seeds

1/3 cup grapeseed oil

¼ cup water

2/3 cup maple syrup or honey or combination

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup dried cranberries

1. In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients except the cranberries. Mix well.

2. Whisk together the oil, water, honey, vanilla. Combine the wet and dry and stir thoroughly.

3. Spread the mixxture out onto parchment paper lined baking sheets (2). Bake at 325 degrees for 10 min. Stir then bake another 10 min. Then turn the oven off and combine two trays into one. Leave in the oven until mixture is dried out approx. 1-2 hours.  I usually stir one or two more times and add the cranberries when the oven is cooled off. Store in a sealed container in the fridge.

BANANA/BRAN/DATE MUFFINS

2 ½ cups whole wheat flour

½ cup coarsely chopped dates

3 cups natural bran

1 cup boiling water

1 cup raisins

2 ½ tsp baking soda

1 cup “buttermilk” (unsweetened soy milk with 1 tbsp vinegar)

3/4 cup liquid honey

2 ripe bananas, mashed

1/3 cup oil

½ cup unsweetened applesauce with 1 tsp baking powder stirred in (let sit) or 1 egg

½ chopped walnuts (optional)

1. In a food processor combine 1 cup of flour with dates and process until finely chopped (mine looked more like oatmeal)

In a bowl combine this mixture with the bran, water and raisins. Let stand for 10 minutes

2. In another bowl combine remaining flour and baking soda and nuts

3. In another bowl combine buttermilk, honey, bananas, oil, applesauce and blend well. Add to flour mixture; combine well.  Add bran mixture; stir just until moist and blended

4. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins, filling ¾ full. Bake in pre-heated oven at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

HEALTHIER PEANUT BUTTER/OATMEAL/CHOCO CHIP  COOKIES

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1/2 cup wheat germ

1  tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/3 cup grapeseed oil + 1/4 cup  becel or butter

1  cup natural peanut butter

1/2 cup liquid honey

2 eggs  or (just 1 egg + egg substitute – ¼ cup applesauce + 1 tsp baking powder)

2 tsp vanilla

2  cup rolled oats

Optional :

1 cup mini or regular chocolate chips or 1 cup raisins or cranberries or karob chips

3/4 chopped nuts (any kind)

2/3 cup sunflower seeds (raw shelled or roasted unsalted) and/ or pumpkin seeds

1/4 cup freshly ground flax seeds

Preheat oven 350.  Line cookie sheet with parchment paper

1. Stir together the flour, wheat germ, salt, baking powder and baking soda

2. In a large mixer bowl, beat together the oil, peanut butter and honey.

3. Add egg and vanilla and beat well. Add flour mixture, mixing well.Then stir together optional ingredients with the oatmeal and mix in.

4. Drop onto cookie sheets. Flatten with fork. Bake 10 minutes. Let cool on pan for 1 minutes then remove to wire rack.

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