I find it hard to understand diets that advocate ‘no snacking’. A healthy snack keeps us ‘on the go’, between meals, at work and after a workout. With the school term back in full swing now, our children get home from school after lacrosse/netball/dance/football/gym/drama/hockey and they are STARVING. So they need something to keep them happy while they get homework underway before dinner. And when I’m working hard and on the go, it’s difficult not to grab a biscuit from my workplace biscuit jar (whose idea was that? Lethal!)
We are trying to avoid too much refined sugar though. If sugar wasn’t having a bad enough year already, research published at the weekend suggests that sugar, rather than salt, may cause high blood pressure. In the American Journal of Cardiology, Dr James DiNicolantonio claims ‘encouraging consumers to hold the sugar, not the salt, may be the best dietary strategy to achieve blood pressure control’. http://www.ajconline.org/article/S0002-9149(14)01427-1/abstract
Other medics have argued against this, saying there is still good evidence that salt intake and high blood pressure are linked. Research shows that 75% of salt comes from processed foods – another good reason to avoid those where possible.
Either way, high blood pressure can be a precursor to heart attacks, kidney disease and dementia – either by reducing blood supply to the brain or as the result of a stroke. My mum had a series of small strokes – transient ischemic attacks – in the years before she was diagnosed with dementia so I’m conscious of keeping a lid on my sugar AND salt consumption.
So with the children starving after school, and me trying to snack healthily too, we’ve built up a roster of healthy on-the-go food: hummus and crudites, oatcakes with nut butter and a drizzle of honey, cheese, Medjool dates. Deliciously Ella’s raw chocolate brownies are great http://deliciouslyella.com/recipe/how-to-make-raw-brownies/ as are the apple ring ideas in the Hemsley and Hemsley book ‘The Art of Eating Well’ (slice apples into discs and use like a cracker with toppings like cheese or a spread). Annabel has some great healthy cookie recipes which will be on the blog soon (so sign up for the weekly update!) And we’ve created these ‘After-School Power Balls’ – my 11-year-old loves making (and eating) them but they are so simple a much younger child could do it too.
AFTER –SCHOOL POWER BALLS (makes about 20)
150g whole almonds
4 tbs almond butter
4 tbs coconut oil
2 tbs cocoa or raw cacao
200g dates (stoned)
2-3 tbs water
Blitz the almonds and oats in the food processor – you want a bit of texture – then add all the other ingredients, except water .Slowly add the water until the mixture comes together. Wet hands and roll walnut-sized lumps into smooth balls. Chill in the fridge. They freeze well too for emergency snacking!