Article by Dr Sally Norton
Autumn is just asking to be embraced with a brisk walk in the fresh air and fallen leaves. Ideally with some gentle sunshine too….but let’s not push our luck! Wrapping up against the elements means we can get the benefits whatever the weather throws at us.
Whether you are planning a full-on, muscle-toning power walk or a gentler stride out for an hour or two, it’s worth having an energy boost to hand. But don’t undo the good work of your walk by tucking into processed snacks that provide calories but little in the way of nutrition. Your body, like your car, runs better on premium fuel.
Instead, choose one of these healthy and easy snacks the next time you get up and go……
On-the-go snacks don’t come any easier than bananas – ready-wrapped and full of fruit sugar. This is a good way to get an instant energy fix as the sugar found in fruit comes packaged up with fibre making it less harmful – in fact it doesn’t even count in the new recommendations of just 6 teaspoons of sugar per day. What’s more, bananas contain vitamins and minerals too and have been shown to be as good as a sports drink in providing energy during exercise.
A handful of almonds a day (around 30g) has been shown to reduce your risk of heart disease. Almonds contain healthy fats, protein, vitamin E and more providing loads of important nutrients.
For extra calories and energy, mix with a handful of raisins or other dried fruit. One handful counts as one of your five-a-day. Just don’t overdo the nuts and raisins if you are watching your weight though – they are calorie dense and it’s too easy to munch through more than you intended.
Dried snacks made from chickpeas or other pulses provide heaps of fibre and are digested more slowly meaning blood sugar spikes and slumps are less likely to occur. They’re easy to make – simply drain a tin of chickpeas, blot them dry and toss in a little olive oil to coat, mixed in with some spices of your choice (try cumin, cayenne pepper, chilli powder, sea salt). Then spread on a tray in a single layer and bake until golden and crisp at around 1500C for approx. 30 minutes.
For a more substantial snack, sandwiches still reign supreme. But forget soggy white bread and processed fillings. Wholemeal bread packed full of nutritious seeds and fibre gives more sustained energy and tastes better too. Pure nut butter (check the label or make your own to avoid added sugar and hydrogenated fats) is a nutritious and easy filling for an on-the-go snack. Try cashew nut butter as an alternative that’s high in magnesium. Add fresh strawberries or banana too for a healthy take on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
Yes, chocolate! Nothing like a few squares to boost the spirit as well as the energy levels. Just make it good quality dark chocolate, as the high cocoa content means lots of antioxidants and reported benefits to heart health, memory and more.
Your standard granola and cereal bars are usually packed with sugar. These can cause blood sugar fluctuations, which leave you feeling lethargic. This homemade version provides sustained energy in the form of oats (also good for heart health), with nuts and seeds providing essential fats. And with only a little honey added for sweetness, you won’t get the low-energy slumps.
Cranberry Bakewell oat bars
Makes 12 bars
- 90g rolled oats
- 50g chopped nuts (of your choice)
- 25g seeds (of your choice)
- 25g dried cranberries
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 medium egg, beaten
- 160ml milk
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp almond extract
- Pre-heat your oven to 175?C.
- Mix oats, nuts, seeds, cranberries and cinnamon together.
- In a separate bowl mix the beaten egg, milk, honey and almond extract together.
- Next mix the wet ingredients with the dry, and leave the oats to soak up the flavours for 10-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Spread the mixture evenly onto a 9” by 9” baking tray covered with greaseproof paper.
- Pop into the centre of the oven for around 35 minutes, until golden.
- Remove from the oven, leave to cool and then slice up into 12 pieces.
- Store in an airtight container and enjoy with a cuppa or out on a walk.
Dr Sally Norton, NHS weight loss consultant surgeon. www.vavistalife.com