The Fit Foodie: My tops tips in smart snacking

This week Derval O'Rourke is focusing on smart snacking and showing you how to bake chewy chocolate granola bars and her happy healthy bread.
The Fit Foodie: My tops tips in smart snacking

Snacks are an important part of a healthy balanced diet but are an easy place to fall down and make less than ideal choices. When I have the time, I like to prepare things in advance, Sunday is a day I get a lot done and like to cook/bake ahead.

There are still plenty of weeks when baking ahead doesn’t quite work out for me. Here are a few zero-preparation snacks I like to grab:

  • Fresh/Dried fruit: A fantastic option packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Add a protein source if you can. For example I love apples and nut butter.
  • Few squares of dark chocolate: Great in the evening with a cup of tea to hit sweet cravings. Aim for at least 70% cocoa for more healthy antioxidants.
  • A handful of nuts: High in protein, healthy fats and fibre so great to satisfy your hunger. Go for the unsalted versions.
  • Smoothies: A great option if you need something a bit more substantial. Adding a protein source makes it a smart nutritional choice and you can add some greens if you are feeling brave. I like to add spinach to smooties.
  • Pot of natural yoghurt: Aim for no added sugar and sweeten with some honey or fruit compote. Add a handful of homemade granola for something more filling.
  • Rice/oatcakes with nut butter and banana: These are great for a boost pre or post workout.

My top three tips for snacking:

  • Aim for three balanced meals and two to three snacks each day. Listen to your body and adjust accordingly, we are all different. Remember though, a snack is not a meal and the portion size should reflect this.
  • Aim to eat every three to four hours and include a protein source at each snack to keep blood sugar levels balanced.
  • Ensure you are properly hydrated as we often mistake thirst for hunger. I have to remind myself to drink all the time.

This week’s Fitspiration:

@wyldsson

I adore this Irish snack company. They make wonderful healthy and tasty products. Your best option is to go online and look at their shop to purchase from them. Buying from the Wyldsson guys means you will be snacking healthy and happy plus supporting a brilliant Irish start up business.

Chewy Chocolate Granola Bars

It’s easy to spend loads of money on seemingly healthy granola bars but it’s a much better option to make these yourself. They’re really handy to bring in your bag and eat at training, sitting in traffic or wherever else you find yourself.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 25-30 minutes

Makes: 12 bars

Ingredients: 

  • 120g jumbo porridge oats
  • 50g desiccated coconut
  • 50g pecan nuts, roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 Medjool dates, chopped
  • 30g dark chocolate, chopped
  • Salt

Method:

Line a 33cm x 23cm metal baking tin with parchment paper so that the paper overlaps the sides. Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/gas 2.

Spread the porridge oats, coconut and pecans on a baking tin and bake for about 10 minutes.

Melt the honey, coconut oil and vanilla extract in a large pan over a low heat. Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly. Add the eggs and stir until smooth. Stir in the dates, dark chocolate and a pinch of salt and mix well. Tip the toasted porridge mix into the pan and stir until combined.

Increase the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Scrape the granola mix into the prepared baking tin and spread out evenly, pressing down with the back of a spoon. Bake for 25–30 minutes until the top is golden brown and firm.

Take from the oven and leave to cool for 30 minutes. To remove from the tin, take hold of the parchment paper and simply lift out the granola slab.

Cut the slab into bars and store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Happy, Healthy Bread

The happy healthy loaf was created from my desire to make really tasty bread that is full of great nutritious ingredients. It’s a staple in our home. I make two loaves at a time, I keep one in the freezer pre-sliced and take out slices and toast them as I want them. It is lovely with a little butter, jam or nut butter.

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 2 hours 30 minutes

Makes: 1 loaf

Ingredients: 

  • 145g porridge oats
  • 135g sunflower seeds
  • 90g flax seeds
  • 65g brazil nuts, roughly chopped
  • 4 tbsp psyllium seed husks
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt (add ½ tsp if using coarse salt)
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup (honey or agave syrup also work)
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 350ml water

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Whisk the maple syrup, coconut oil and water in a measuring jug. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix until combined. The dough should be very thick. If it becomes too thick to mix, add a few teaspoons of water until it is manageable.

Pour the dough into a silicone loaf pan and leave it to sit at room temperature for at least two hours. The dough is ready to be baked once it retains its shape when you pull the side of the loaf pan away from it.

Place the loaf pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 20 minutes.

Remove the bread from the loaf pan, place the bread upside down directly on the oven rack and bake for another 30–40 minutes. The bread is cooked once it sounds hollow when tapped.

Place on a wire rack and leave it to cool fully before slicing. Store in an airtight container for up to five days or slice and freeze.

More in this section

Lifestyle
Newsletter

The best food, health, entertainment and lifestyle content from the Irish Examiner, direct to your inbox.

Sign up