Carbohydrates are an important part of a healthy diet, but I know that all carbs are not created equal, and as I work on improving my nutrition, I asked for some advice from Stefanie Senior, Toronto-based registered dietitian and nutritionist.
Here's the challenge I put forth to her:
My school lunchbag is usually full of carb-y snacks like granola bars and crackers (don't worry, there's dairy in there too, and the girls are great for packing fruit - yes, they pack their own lunches).
I want to be able to purchase my snacks at the grocery store (no homemade granola-bar making for me) and of course I'm looking for yummy flavour.
Stefanie was up for the challenge and came through with some very helpful recommendations, while making the point that ideally each snack should include some carbohydrate AND protein (so I need to remember the cheese when I'm packing my crackers) and be as natural and unprocessed as possible.
Here's what she suggested (some suggestions do have peanuts so I'll choose carefully for work):
Granola Bars: Kashi (this is the only brand she recommends; I picked up their Chocolate Almond and Sea Salt With Chia)
Protein bars: Elevate Me, Vega, Quest, The Simply Bar, Taste of Nature (Argentina Peanut Plains)
Energy bars: other Taste of Nature bars, Kind, *Lara bar, *Go Raw, Bumble Bar, *Pure organic, Raw Revolution
Other carb choices: Air popped popcorn, Crisp Breads (Ryvita, Wasa, Lavash), Finn Crisps, Mary's Crackers, Baked tortilla chips (Que Pasa)
I also got the clear idea from her suggestions that "whole grain" is an important term to look for when I'm buying bread, english muffins, tortillas, etc., and for the most part I'm okay with that, though I still struggle with the taste of whole grain pasta. Mixing half white and half whole grain is a good way to start adjusting the taste buds.
While I want to begin with a carbohydrate makeover, Stefanie has several other healthy-snack suggestions from different food groups. Here are my favourites:
-light Mini Babybels
-low-fat cottage or ricotta cheese
-Laughing Cow light
-yogurt (Greek is higher in protein)
What I love about these suggestions is that I now have some healthier brand-names in mind when I'm scanning the grocery shelves for my school snacks. I've already added Kashi bars, Mary's Crackers, Finn Crisps and Babybels to my shopping list.
Stefanie offers customized nutrition and weight loss plans, sport nutrition counselling, and motivational speaking (among other services) and is available through Skype for anyone across the country looking for assistance.You can find more information as well as some handy resources on her website.
Thanks so much, Stefanie! You have me on the path to (slightly) better nutrition!