By Sabrina Virdee, Holistic Nutritionist, fitness model, entrepreneur, mother of two
Nutritious Protein Rich Snacks
It’s 3:00pm and you need a bite to tide you over till dinner, but what to choose, what to choose? Life is busy, and when it is, we want to reach for something quick and easy. Rarely do we take into consideration that the perfect snack should include both protein and fibre. Do protein rich snacks even exist? It is this combo that will help fill us up and prevent that blood sugar “spike” and subsequent crash that we get from the less nutrient-dense options.
Many snack foods available today are high in refined carbs and sugar, which can leave you feeling unsatisfied and craving more food, even when they the label proclaims it “the perfect snack”. Oh, marketing!
When you want a nutritious protein rich snack, aim for a minimum of 4 grams each of protein and fibre per snack (as is one apple and a tbsp spoon of almond butter), and try to avoid going longer than 3-1/2 hours between meals and snacks. Keep your added sugar to a minimum (under 6 grams) please. Snacks are snacks, not desserts!
That being said, I believe it is extremely important to understand the “why” behind our choices. In this case, why choosing protein rich snacks are considered nutrient dense in comparison to the not so nutritious alternatives. Here is some background information for you to take away about protein:
Protein is made up of amino acids, or the building blocks that exist in your body and in food. You need these amino acids to build new tissue, whether it’s red blood cells or muscle cells. Protein is also responsible for many other functions in your body, including immune function and energy. In general, you can find protein in eggs, seafood, poultry, red meat lentils and legumes, nuts and seeds. In addition, protein promotes fullness because it signals the release of appetite-suppressing hormones, slows digestion, and stabilizes your blood sugar levels. And, don’t forget the fibre!!!
When you’re on the go, choose from one of the many convenient protein rich snacks that I use and recommend to my clients…and say goodbye to the 3:00pm crash.
A smoothie is a great way to satiate hunger while getting your greens. Try a scoop of protein, avocado, cucumber, kale, a green apple and some chia seeds. Pro tip: put your smoothie in a Mason jar with a lid so you can drink it anytime or try a travel smoothie cup with a small, clean ball inside that will help separate any ingredients when you shake it.
Not all muffins are created equal. Skip the oversized baked goods at your local coffee shop and bake your own at home. It’s super easy to customize these treats by skipping refined sugar and even flour. Try a banana, apple, zucchini or carrot version. There are loads of recipes for high-protein muffins that allow you to control how much fat and sugar is in your snack.
Yogurt with Berries and Nuts
Combine fresh strawberries, blueberries, plain Greek yogurt and some almonds in a mason jar and pop it in the fridge the night before a busy day for an easy protein rich snack or breakfast you can eat anywhere. Up the ante by adding some chia seeds and hemp hearts to get your omega 3 for the day. This snack is high in protein, antioxidants and healthy fats.
Pita Pocket with Hummus
Fill up half a whole-wheat pita with loads of delicious veggies, leftover chicken and hummus. Try getting a rainbow of veggies in your diet such as vitamin C-rich yellow peppers or vitamin A-rich carrots. Hummus is also a great source of protein. If you’re gluten-free, try a raw wrap or some gluten-free seed crackers with a side of veggies and hummus instead.
Tuna is loaded with protein and makes a very healthy and convenient snack. One cup contains an impressive 39 grams of protein, making it extra filling. Additionally, tuna is high in various other nutrients and contains a considerable amount of omega 3s.
Eggs are undeniably nutritious, consisting of almost every nutrient that your body needs. One hard-boiled egg consists of 6 grams of protein, which will keep you full and satisfied until your next meal. Their fullness-promoting properties may also reduce the number of calories you consume later in the day. In addition to being nutritious, they’re versatile. Hard-boiled eggs make a great portable snack.
Handful of Almonds
Eating a handful of almonds or another type of nut for a snack is a simple way to fill up on protein. One ounce of almonds provides 6 grams of protein, in addition to high amounts of healthy fats. Just be mindful that almonds are also high in calories, so it’s important to stick with the recommended serving size. A handful is equivalent to around 22 almonds.
Chickpeas have an impressive nutrient profile, being an excellent source of protein and fibre. A half-cup serving contains 7.5 grams of protein. One tasty way to prepare chickpeas for a snack is by roasting them with some basic seasonings and olive oil. Roasted chickpeas are crunchy and portable, so you can take them with you and enjoy them when hunger hits.
Trail mix is a combination of nuts and dried fruit that’s sometimes combined with chocolate and grains. You can increase the amount of protein in trail mix by using almonds or pistachios, which are slightly higher in protein.
Roll-ups are a delicious and nutritious high protein snack consisting of veggies wrapped inside slices of turkey breast, ham or even roast beef. Essentially a sandwich without the bread.
A quick and easy protein boost. Homemade, store-bought frozen then thawed, or instant bone broth powder – integrating collagen-rich bone broth into your daily routine has never been easier. Easy-to-digest, gut-friendly and deliciously sippable. Heat, stir and enjoy, or add it to a ton of recipes. One of my all-time favourite brands is made-in-Canada, Bone Brewhouse. In addition to their lineup of fresh-then-frozen broths is their new instant bone broths – rich in collagen, high in protein, and with MCT oil – the good fat that can help support keto and low-carb diets. And five delicious foodie flavours to choose from. Pop a pouch in your purse or gym bag for when you’re on-the-go.