WHAT HEALTHY, TASTY, NO-COOK FRUIT AND VEGETABLE NIBBLES CAN YOU TAKE TO WORK? – YOU ASK!
You may never have heard this before but I will tell you now that The Netherlands has the yummiest snacks I have tasted ever. They may not have the best dinners, as it is typically all just mashed up – Stamppot; or fries. But the pastries and “small chops” as we call it in Nigeria, are absolutely delicious. I have a lot of love for anything made with dough and so I would usually have some apple turnovers (appleflappen) and speculaas (a spiced shortcrust biscuit) sitting on the counter to nibble on whenever I felt peckish. I would also toss one into my bag before heading off to work. However in the past months, I made some changes to my diet and decided to include more healthy options to my food choices. I strongly believe that healthy eating begins at home. It is essential that your pantry is always stocked with basic, healthy snacks that you can reach for whenever you feel like snacking. So in this blog, I will be sharing some of my favorite healthy snacks.
KNOW WHAT YOU EAT
My all time favorite no-cook fruit and vegetable snacks on the go
Carrots are the crunchy, root vegetables rich in carotenoids, vitamins and minerals. The colors of the carrot root flesh may be white, yellow, orange, red, purple, or very dark purple. But I will be talking about the orange carrots in this post. The attractive orange colour makes carrots an appealing vegetable visually. You may have heard some people say “carrots are good for the eyes”. This is not far from the truth. The α- and β-carotene present in orange carrots is a rich source of provitamin A. This vitamin plays an important role in the prevention of Macula degeneration (a disease that causes irreversible blindness in older people). In diabetics, it may reduce their risk of developing diabetic retinopathy (eye problems related to diabetes). Carrots also have anti-carcinogenic (anti-cancerous) effect against bladder cancer and other carcinomas. Carrots play a role in protecting some of our vital organs such as our heart, kidney and liver.
Snack: I like to cut my carrots into thin slices and eat with some tasty hummus or on its own. They never really go to waste because I can cook with them later if I have any left-over.
Tomatoes are a fruit that belong to the nightshade family, along with aubergines and peppers. They come in a range of colours and sizes. My favorite would have to be the red cherry tomatoes. Tomatoes are best known for their vitamin and mineral content which includes calcium, magnesium, beta-carotene (which becomes vitamin A when consumed), vitamins C and E, some B vitamins and vitamin K. So it is essential for the health of your bones and teeth. Vitamin K is linked to a low rate of heart disease and stroke. Lycopene, an antioxidant in tomatoes reduces blood pressure, cholesterol and more research is being done to look into the health benefits of Lycopene. An article posted in the European Respiratory journal shows that fruits and vegetable, particularly apples, bananas and tomatoes may help to restore lung function in long-term ex-smokers.
Snack: I take a little bag of 10-15 cherry tomatoes and snack while commuting on the train or whenever I feel peckish. Its sweet taste quenches any sugar craving. It is a struggle not to eat it all as soon as I have them in my fridge.
Cucumbers are often called vegetables but are actually fruits. They are low in calories and contain a good amount of water and soluble fiber, making them perfect for promoting hydration and aiding in weight loss. Cucumbers contain high levels of vitamin K and phytonutrients (plant chemicals that have protective or disease preventive properties) such flavonoids which have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits. They also contain antioxidants such as beta carotene and vitamin C, and B vitamins.
Snack: I cut cucumbers into round slices or strips and eat with hummus or onn its own. It is very crunchy and hydrating. I also enjoy pickled mini cucumbers (Malosolny in polish) which is stored in jars with horseradish. I eat cucumbers with the skin on. This is really high in fiber content.
Bananas are packed with nutrients especially potassium which is essential for heart health and for regulating blood pressure. Yellow bananas are sweeter than the green. They have antioxidant properties. The high fibre content in bananas promote satiety (a feeling of fullness). Bananas also stimulate brain activity and alertness.
Snack: I just toss a banana into my bag when going out. It leaves me filling full for a very long time. I also shared my peanut butter and banana smoothie in another post if you are into smoothies like me.
Nectarines are a good source of Vitamin C, carotenoids and potassium. They also provide Vitamin E, B vitamins, calcium, fiber and some iron. Due to the high amount of vitamin C, flavonoids, anthocyanins and phenolic acids, both peaches and nectarines have excellent antioxidant properties. Beta-carotene also seen in carrots is found in nectarines. It helps reduce inflammation, improve immune function, protect DNA and control cell growth. In this way it may reduce cancer risk. Diets high in fruits such as peaches are linked to decreased risk of multiple cancers such as prostate, colorectal, stomach, oral and lung cancer. Foods containing Vitamin C are said to lower risk of esophageal cancer, and foods containing fiber may lower risk of colorectal cancer.
Snack: I love my nectarines a little soft to touch and fragrant. The more aromatic, the riper it is and the more juicy. Nectarines are also nice in jams.A nectarine a day leaves me smiling all the way to the end of the day.
Resveratrol is a compound present in grapes. It is known to enhance the body’s immune system. A less known effect is its action on the brain, particularly the hippocampus. The hippocampus is responsible for memory, mood, and learning abilities of the brain. And while age-related memory loss is a part of many aging disorders for older adults, anything that has a positive effect on cognitive ability is a good thing. Grapes also have anti-aging properties and cardio-protective properties. There are so many benefits to adding grapes to your diet.
Snack: I eat grapes with cheese. This was a combo that I was weary of. But after I tried it, I never went back. Be sure to give it a try. I also love all grapes regardless of the colour; green, red, black or whatever else may be out there.
Apples improve our pulmonary (lung) health. It is linked to a decrease in asthma and bronchial hypersensitivity. Apples consumption is also associated with an increased cardiovascular health and a decreased risk of stroke. Not only may apples help decrease the risk of heart disease, cancer, and asthma, but apple consumption is also associated with a lower risk for diabetes. Apple and pear intake has also been associated with weight loss in middle aged overweight women.
Snack: I never used to be a fan of apples. I disliked biting into them. Then I started grating my apples and making it into a pudding by adding some powdered milk and sometimes cinnamon. You may be judging me right now but you never know until you try. It is so delicious. When on the go, I just pre-slice my apples from home so I dont not have to worry about biting into it. And I enjoy it while going about my business.
Your choices determine your health
While I have these as my healthy choices, I occasionally indulge in my favorite pastries. I do not believe in restricting myself. Like children, we often crave what we can not have. So I have trained myself to eat the cookies and pastries in moderation. I know the health benefits of these no-cook fruit and vegetables and treat the other snacks as “treats”. It is not such a difficult decision; as these plant-based snacks are equally very delicious and satisfying. The phytonutrients in fruits and vegetables are too numerous to ignore. My choices determine my health.
What are some of your favorite snacks?