Stay energised at the office with these five healthy snacks.
Working nine to five and beyond is common in Hong Kong! Want to curb your mid-morning and afternoon cravings while eating on a budget? Whether you have a savoury or a sweet tooth, here are five dietitian-approved snacks that will help you get through the workday.
Nuts are a nutrient powerhouse packed with protein and healthy fats. You probably know that protein keeps you feeling full and your muscles strong, but did you know that nuts are cholesterol free? Yes, having nuts as part of your healthy diet may help to reduce your risk of developing heart disease. Not only that, some research has shown that some nuts, such as almonds, contain vitamin E, an antioxidant, which may help in reducing your risk of developing some types of cancers.
Nuts are also a rich source of dietary fibre and would be a healthy option if you are looking for a food to fill you up while you are trying to manage your weight and to keep your bowels healthy.
Tips for going nuts on nuts:
- Nuts are most flavourful when they are raw and unprocessed. Keep raw or dry roasted nuts that are sugar and salt-free in your desk drawer and munch on them whenever you are craving for a crunch.
- If you are trying to manage your weight, being mindful of portions is key to success. Don’t overdo on nuts as they are high in fat and the calories add up quickly. A recommended serving size of nuts at one sitting would be the amount that would fit in the size of the palm of your hand, which is about ¼ cup (32g).
Seeds for a Change
Tired of nuts? Seeds are another excellent snack option filled with protein, healthy fats and dietary fibre. Pumpkin and sunflower seeds can be eaten whole, but seeds such as chia and flax seeds, are best grounded up to get all the nutritional benefits.
Tips for a seedy snack:
- Add a tablespoon or two of sesame seeds, ground flax or chia seeds to your yoghurt for an added nutty flavour and to help you get through to mid-day.
- Like nuts, seeds are also high in fat and calories. A recommended serving at one sitting would be the amount that would fit in the size of the palm of your hand, which is about ¼ cup (32g).
- Ground seeds will go rancid quickly, so it’s best to keep opened packages in the the office pantry refrigerator.
Goodness in Granola
If you have a sweet tooth in the mid-afternoon, try granola, a cereal that is a mix of oats, whole grains, dried fruits and nuts. Rather than going for the typical empty calorie foods like chips and sweets, granola is an energy-packed food with complex carbohydrates, dietary fibre and some protein. Granola is not your typical breakfast item but can be consumed as a snack, be added to desserts and be a part of baking.
Tips for getting the goodness from granola:
- Simply add half to one cup of milk, or your go-to milk alternative beverage such as fortified-soy, rice, or almond beverage, to your bowl of granola for extra protein and nutrients.
- Sprinkle your yoghurt with a handful of granola to give it an extra crunch.
Guilt-Free Indulgences: Vegetables and Fruits
Finding ways to up your intake of vegetables and fruits? Have them as part of your mid-day and/or mid-afternoon snack. The World Health Organisation recommends adults to have at least five servings of vegetables and fruits each day. One serving of vegetable and fruits is equivalent to one whole fruit, or half a cup of fresh or frozen fruits, or stalky vegetables.
Tips to achieve your five servings of veggies and fruits:
- Keep easy to peel fruits by your desk
- Bananas are notorious for being the classic office snack. They are not only an excellent source of potassium, which is vital for your bones, kidneys, heart, muscles and nerves, they are also rich in vitamin B6, which are important for making hemoglobin, which helps carry oxygen in the blood.
- Oranges, another well-known fruit in the office, are your go-to vitamin C source. Feeling under the weather or stressed at work? Give your immune system a boost by having an orange. Vitamin C is also known to increase the absorption of iron from plant-based foods, so if you are a vegetarian or simply are having a meatless day, include oranges as part of your diet.
- Switch it up. Aim to have at least two servings of fruits and vegetables as part of your snack at the office. Have one serving at mid-morning and one in mid-afternoon. Switch it up by having a different fruit and veggie each day. Not only will you not get dull of your selection, you will also obtain a variety of nutrients.
- Tired of eating celery and carrot sticks all the time? Why not have cherry and grape tomatoes, stalky vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower, and meaty brown mushrooms for a change?
The Darker the Better: Dark Chocolate
When all else fails to satisfy your sweet tooth, dark chocolate could be your saviour. Compared to milk chocolates, dark chocolates are the least processed. Research has shown that dark chocolates contain flavonoids, which are antioxidants that may help to reduce the risk of heart disease and other chronic diseases and help the body to repair damaged cells.
Tips for choosing dark chocolate:
- Choose the ones that consist of at least 60% cocoa solids.
- The less processed the better. Minimise your calorie intake by going for dark chocolates that have no added sugars, no creamy filling and coatings, and no added nuts.
- Keep your portions in check. A piece half the size of the palm of your hand will put you on cloud nine.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in August 2017 by Novella Lui and was updated in January 2019.