Wow! Is it Pumpkin Spice Latte time already?
It seems like I blinked and the back-to-school frenzy has lulled to a back-in-the-groove flow at home and work. That´s good news since there's really a short window to maximize that momentum before the holiday season rolls up and destroys any plans of productivity until January.
These fall days are packed, are they not? My nutrition classes are back in full swing, the kids´after-school sports schedule has us dashing around the city, and the monthly school birthday party circuit is already cramping my style! To keep my energy level and spirits high, I rely upon a few tried and true secrets to power my days.
In general, it´s a policy of mine to never leave the house without food or snacks, which I inherited from my mother—thank you, Mom. Basically, I don't like to be caught out in the wilderness (a.k.a. urban Barcelona) without energizing snacks at the ready. It helps cut down on impromptu expensive snack purchases on-the-go, and prevents having to choose between bad and worse options at the convenience stores.
Whether you are hustling with children or without, we all get hangry (hungry + angry) when we don´t eat nourishing foods to keep us satisfied. Yet, determining which foods supply the optimal nutrients can be daunting.
In an effort to streamline that task, I've created a simple graphic highlighting the real foods / rustic foods / whole foods—whatever you call them—to keep stashed in your gym bag, purse, glove box, or European shopping tote. These are all low-prep and travel well.
1. Nut + Seed + Fruit Mix
This is my absolute staple snack, which can be found in my purse every day—without fail. I keep a little to-go cup (these AVENT cups are my favorite) in my bag as an emergency snack to save myself the embarrassment of fizzling out in public. Nobody wants to be the girl who passes out on the pilates room floor, not having consumed enough calories before hitting the gym.
Before my meetings, activities, classes, or the after-school pickup, I grab a few almonds and raisins to fuel my next move. I mix and match with whatever ingredients I have on hand in the pantry. Yet, I do like to include all 3 parts: raw unsalted nuts + raw unsalted seeds + dried fruit. Here are a few mix and match possibilities to fuel your day:
Nuts: chestnuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews, Brazil nuts, almonds, pine nuts or pistachios
Seeds: sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds
Dried Fruit: raisins, dried apricots, dried figs, dates, or prunes
2. Ezekiel Bread with Spread
Finding a truly nutritious bread on supermarket shelves can be tricky, since most commercial breads have artificial flavors, preservatives and high fructose corn syrup sweeteners. My go-to bread is the nutrient-packed Ezekiel bread, which is composed of a variety of sprouted grains and seeds—and stocked at your local grocery store.
The increased protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals keep me feeling satisfied. I top with a creamy spread such as almond butter, tahini (sesame seed) butter, avocado, peanut butter, hummus, guacamole. . . you get the point. The bread freezes well, so I keep a loaf in the freezer for those stretches when I just can't get to the market.
3. Carrots and Hummus
My son is the carrot-lover of the family, whereas I would opt for cooked carrots, if given the choice. Yet, I´ll admit that his persistence in soliciting carrot sticks has persuaded me to give them another try. Now I pack a few carrots sticks for the little guy and a side of hummus for me! Together it´s a delicious energy-packed snack to make everyone happy.
4. Fall Fruit
This is the easiest food to pick up since it already comes wrapped in a handy carrying case. The fashionable fresh fruit this season include apples, pears, figs, plums, kiwi, pomegranates, kumquats, grapes, date plums, and persimmons. I load up a soft lunch box with fruit and a wet washcloth, since it gets juicy. . . and delicious!
5. Plain Yogurt and Toppings
The yogurt aisle is an expanding minefield of “health-washing” and overhyped “health foods.” Stick to the basics. Start with a plain yogurt and add your choices of toppings and sweeteners, so you control the quality.
When purchasing yogurt, look along the bottom of the refrigerator display. There you should find old-fashioned rustic yogurt. Select a plain, organic yogurt tub, ideally from grass-fed cows—if that is an option.
At home, apportion the yogurt into your travel cups or mason jars. Sprinkle on top with ground flax seeds, chia seeds, wheat germ, rolled oats, dried fruit, or a drizzle of honey or maple syrup. You have far more control of what goes into your yogurt by adding real food from your pantry and skipping the highly processed additives and preservatives found in the commercial brands.
If you have an idea for low-prep, high-energy snacks for life on-the-go, leave me a note in the comments below!