Snack foods that are good for you

  • Ooops! I got caught in the wrong…again!
  • Here are some really healthy snack foods to try
  • How to teach good habits to the children… and learn a few lessons for ourselves too.

All right, I admit it…

I was caught red-handed.

Last week in response to a readers email I mentioned I was reading my morning paper whilst happily working my way through a mouthful of cornflakes.

Not a fresh fruit salad, or eggs and bacon (poached eggs and bacon are an excellent way to start the day), or organic, muesli, but cornflakes.

Honey Nut cornflakes to be precise.

That’s right – me, Ray Collins, Officer in Charge of Moaning About Refined Food, was munching his way through a bowl full of additives, flavourings and sweeteners.

I think there was some corn in their somewhere, but I couldn’t be sure. And there was a picture of a happy bee on the box, so maybe the box was waved in front of a pot of honey at some point.

But all in all, that morning’s breakfast consisted of man-made chemicals and a handful of fake vitamins.

And my reader was quick to point out my error!

So how come I committed such a heinous crime against the cause – and against my body.

Well, here’s my defence m’lud…

I LOVE Honey Nut cornflakes. And about once a fortnight I treat myself to a bowl.

Just like I treat myself to the occasional pizza, which I begrudgingly share with the family if Lara can manage to coax me away from the table by pretending Boris Johnson is on the phone wanting my opinion on the NHS!

Or the occasional bar of chocolate, or cream cakes.

Sorry – cake.

Because that’s what the good life is all about.

In my opinion, denying yourself EVERY naughty treat in pursuit of perfect health will never work. Because indulging once in a while is good for the soul.

And being happy and content goes a long way towards giving you a healthy body and a healthy mind.

So if you like a certain food or drink, don’t deny yourself totally.

But keep it in check, and reduce your intake till it’s a treat, and not a habit.

Which is easier said than done…

The threat of zombie eating

Do you remember that R.Whites advert – the secret lemonade drinker…?

It showed a man tiptoeing downstairs in his pyjamas, telling us he’s trying to give up his craving for lemonade, before going to the fridge, pouring himself a glass, and happily guzzling it while he danced around the kitchen.

Well I used to be the same with late night snacks.

Because around midnight, something happens to the fridge…

Something evil.

It transforms itself from an innocent and useful tool into the worst friend you could ever have… one that whispers to you and persuades you to fill your body with unnecessary calories.

And even up till a few years ago, I used to obey.

Every night I’d go into the kitchen to make a cup of tea, then while the kettle was boiling I’d shuffle over to the fridge in a zombie-like state and open the door – just to see what was in there.

Of course I KNEW what was in there… lots of easy snacks I could fix up in a few seconds and eat while I watched The Sky at Night or some third rate film. But when I opened the door, I really had no idea what I was after.

I wasn’t hungry. I didn’t need anything. But a midnight snack just felt good.

And boy did I pile on the pounds. Because the snacks you’re drawn to late at night tend to be the worst kind… cheese, salami, salty crackers, a slice of leftover dessert…

And of course, good old breakfast cereals made A LOT of late night guest-appearance. It’s only in recent years that I’ve broken this habit, and it wasn’t easy.

But snacks aren’t only a threat when night falls…

These days, with restrictions still in place about where we can go and what we do, snacking has become part of people’s lives – especially children’s.

And the big companies have been quick to feed this need.

Lunch packs, Snax, salty fast-fix ‘complete meals’… the supermarket shelves are swarming with easy solutions to fend off hunger.

And it’s causing us problems… because this ‘food’ is bad.

For example, Dairylea have just been given a good telling off by the advertising standards authority for their Lunchables range.

They’re the packs that contain a few tiny crackers, pale little discs of ham, and some processed cheese.

Sound delightful, don’t they?

Dairylea seem to think so, because they advertise the Lunchables range as ‘packed with good stuff’

But these ready-made snacks (aimed primarily at children) contain half a young child’s daily salt intake. And none of them are low in saturated fat.

In fact, of the six varieties in the range, two have HIGH levels of saturated fat.

Where’s the ‘good stuff’ in that that?

And I’m willing to bet that ANY of these ready-made snack boxes are oozing with just as many nasties as the Dairylea range.

So, if you’re a zombie snacker and the call of the fridge is too great, or your kids start moaning at you because Jimmy Smith’s mum lets him have a Tast-ee Snack Pack with a grinning chicken on the front, get eating these tasty natural snacks instead…

Sneaky snacks that are good to have

  • The DIY solution… listen, if your child looks at you aghast if you hand him an orange while his mates tuck into fashionable snacks, make your own better versions. You can even use the same carton (buy one, throw away the contents, then just use the container again and again).

Replace the processed muck with REAL food, such as lean ham, real cheese and wholemeal bread or low-fat, wholemeal crackers with no additives. You can even cut the food into the same shapes, or fill some of the holes with pine nuts or raisins. Honestly, your kids will love it – because it will taste a hundred times better, will look more colourful and exciting and will be envied by everyone.

  • Add colour and fun to a lunchbox… rather than just make a packed lunch (or snack) that looks austere, jazz up a snack by making it interactive. Give your kids some low-fat hummus and cut crunchy fresh vegetables into strips so they can dip and eat.

For us adults, snacking is even easier…

  • Make a huge fruit salad, then leave it in the fridge. Sometimes the appeal of snacking is simply the fact it’s no bother. So make a big bowl of fresh fruit salad, and stick it in the fridge – right at the front where you’ll see it immediately. When you come over all zombie-like and open the door muttering ‘Yeeees master…’ just grab the fruit salad and munch away.
  • Nuts – keep bags of unsalted nuts or fruit and nuts in an easy, visible place in the kitchen. Again, what could be easier than ripping open a bag of nuts and pouring the contents down your throat? I’m a master at it.
  • Pumpkin seeds are rich in minerals, essential fats and protein. Just a handful contains 20% of your zinc RDA and 50% of your magnesium RDA. Pumpkin seeds helps fight against prostate problems, kidney infections, and help build healthy bones.
  • Sunflower seeds – these seeds are packed with potassium, protein, iron and calcium… which sounds a lot better than ‘good stuff saturated fats’ to me!

So if you’re feeling peckish – go for the healthy option.

But if you’re feeling like a treat, go ahead and have one. But LIMIT it.

That’s all for today. I’ll be back again later this week, on my way to the fridge…