Happy Monday, all! How was your weekend? I had an exceptionally good one – it just really felt like a weekend. I spent Friday night at hot yoga followed by a glorious evening watching TV with Susan and falling asleep on the couch at 10:30 (things I shouldn’t admit to the world). Saturday was spent being active in the morning, shopping with my dear friend Cullen who was visiting from Oberlin, and watching the Buckeyes play at Cait and Zane’s fall party (they projected the game outside on their garage – sweet! The only fail was when satellite dish went out right as Penn State was throwing their first touchdown in OT – literally, as the ball was midair. Luckily it came back to life just in time for us to win the game in 2OT!). And Sunday included a run in the leaves and Northstar brunch with Cullen (big burrito, how I love you), Jeni’s ice cream (Dark Chocolate Peppermint!), lots of sunshine, a work dinner (not as painful as it sounds), and some more couch time. That’s what I call a nice weekend!
Let’s talk about snacks, shall we? First of all, the word “snack” just makes me happy – anyone else? It sounds so fun, so peppy. “Let’s have a snack!” I’m a big believer in snacks. Not being one to ever go hungry, on any given day I have at least one, if not two snacks – between breakfast and lunch and between lunch and dinner. The latter is almost always the bigger of the two, as it needs to bridge the gap between a 12-1 lunch and sometimes as late as an 8-9 dinner, with a workout in between. The snack between breakfast and lunch, if I have one at all, is usually much smaller so as to not ruin my appetite.
As much as I enjoy the word “snack'”, snacks are considerably less enjoyable when they are forced to be consumed at your office desk or in the car instead of the comforts of your own home. Having worked in an office for over seven years, I’d like to think I’ve become an expert in the subject. And here’s the real kicker: not once in those seven years have I ever eaten a snack out of the vending machine. Yep, I said NOT ONCE. You might be wondering, how is that possible for someone who eats at least one, if not two, snacks per day? The secret, my friends, is simple – with just a little bit of planning, you, too, can forgo the processed, unsatisfying grip of the vending machine!
Avoiding the vending machine takes three things: a well-stocked desk drawer (or in my case, drawer and shelf), a weekly stock up of the work refrigerator, and produce. I always make sure my desk draw contains some mix of nuts, raisins, cereal, granola bars, crackers, and the like. Fridge staples include cheese sticks and yogurt. And I always bring an apple and if I’m lucky, some other fruit to add excitement to my otherwise boring routine. And did I mention chocolate? I ALWAYS have some chocolate on hand – whether it’s could-be-in-a-vending-machine candy for my candy bowl (how else will I trick co-workers into liking me?) or amazing chocolate bars from Trader Joe’s, I always make sure to have some on hand. The serving is undoubtedly going to be smaller than what I would have grabbed from a vending machine, and it’s cheaper too. Win-win.
Now, I’m not a nutritionist, and the snacks I’m about to show you probably don’t have the ideal ratio of fat / protein / carbs. But they are relatively healthy and take little to no preparation, so they work for me! Without further ado, I’ll introduce you to my favorite office snacks!
Between Breakfast and Lunch
Trader Joe’s light string cheese stick and cherries (this photo was taken in the summer, when cherries are cheap(er) and oh-so-tasty.
Peanuts-in-the-shell (salted, of course) and a sliced apple. The peanuts are a new thing for me – big bags were on sale for $1 a while back so I bought two, and I’m still working my way through bag #1! I like them in the shell because it takes some “work” and makes the snack last longer. #foodie. (side note: I really need to keep a plate at my desk).
When time is tight or I don’t have any produce, I reach for leftover bags of goodies from airport travel. Yep, I’m that girl who hoards the peanuts / pretzels / whatever goodies I can get. If I’m feeling really crazy, I’ll ask for extra! And since I almost always order a Starbucks oatmeal when traveling, I have lots of these dried fruit bags. I’m not a huge fan of them in my oatmeal (I stick with the nuts and brown sugar) and they make great snacks in a pinch! Moral of the story – never turn down free food.
Between Lunch and Dinner
As I mentioned earlier, the snack between lunch and dinner is very important. Take today, for example. I ate lunch around 12:15 at my desk (leftover northstar burrito and some random accompaniments – was lazy and didn’t go to the grocery until tonight). By 3:30 PM, I was quite hungry again (which I expected – lunch was on the small side), and I knew I wouldn’t be eating dinner till at least 9 – with teaching a spin class in between! So a substaintial snack was completely necessary. Enter Greek yogurt – Oikos is my fav sweetened brand, but I love plain Fage for breakfast (future post!). I stirred in some peanuts (they were already shelled) and a small box of raisins for extra texture and staying power. Yum! I also ate an apple and cheese stick on my way to spin at 5:45 – was still a little hungry.
And last, and definitely least – granola bars. In general, I dislike granola bars. They are so boring! I can think of so many great ways to consume 150+ calories that are far more exciting and fulfilling. But the fact is, sometimes I’m in a time crunch or I need a portable snack, and granola bars fit the bill. My general rule is to keep them under 160 calories. There are plenty of 200+ calorie bars on the market, but I just don’t like to consume my calories in bar form, so I try to keep them to a minimum. I also look for bars that aren’t full of a bunch of junk. Kashi, Z-Bar from Larabar (smaller kids version), and Cascadian Farm all make decent, clean bars. Currently these peanut pretzel chewy bars are my fav – sweet and salty!
In the past, I’ve been a big fan of popcorn as a snack, but in the past year I haven’t been consuming as much. I’ve been into eating fewer processed foods and more clean foods, and 100-calorie bags of popcorn with fake butter definitely to not classify as clean food. I make it at home in my air popper sometimes (just kernels, olive oil, and salt), but it’s not smelling up the office very often these days.
So there ya have it, folks – lots of ideas to help you avoid the office vending machine! And don’t forget about my previous posts on Lunch and Dinner – breakfast is up next!
What are your go-to snacks?