As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I recently cut out snacks to maintain my weight loss. But this all went out the window on Friday when first, I had an apple and yogurt between breakfast and lunch, then later a grapefruit between lunch and dinner. There was no stopping me – I seemed to be hungry all day and I know the kind of a havoc that hunger reaps on my metabolism, not to mention my mood. It’s a condition I call “grumpy hungry” and it’s one to be avoided.
I’m starting to reconsider my whole stance on snacking. After writing about The Snack Quandary and reading your excellent comments, I did a little Googling and found that most health professionals recommend snacking for very sensible reasons. For example, The Mayo Clinic suggests that “mini meals several times a day can help manage hunger and reduce bingeing”. Elsewhere, dietician Samantha Heller adds that “eating healthy snacks, in snack-size portions, can help you avoid the overhungry-overeating syndrome that often leads to overweight and can leave you feeling lethargic.”
Is there any science behind this? I’m still looking. My Google searches have turned up a bit empty in the literature department, but I suspect this is more due to the exceptional Google juice of pharmacy and diet websites over academic journals.
Even so, loads of health nuts agree with dietician Lisa Cohn, who argues that “eating erratically signals the body to burn slower and conserve fat. This is why the law student who has been skipping meals is not losing weight on 1,200 calories. She would be better off having smaller, balanced meals and snacks throughout the day.”
Interestingly, the French government actually advises its citizens to avoid snacking in a somewhat lame measure to combat obesity. I’m not buying it. More than anything else, I’m buying your advice.
Everyone who commented on my Snack Quandary agreed that snacks rule, and I was oh so impressed by your delicious suggestions:
Sassy likes fruit, veggies, yogurt and almonds.
Cammy goes for almonds and popcorn.
Evita‘s also keen on nuts and fruit.
And I really like LOLfitness‘s take on hummus: “the aftertaste is so strong that it’s impossible to go on snacking on other things.”
My day of snacking culminated with an Indian feast, where I discovered a new snack food I had never considered before: cucumber raita with raw veggies! The recipe is at the bottom of the page.
Diary for Friday, February 13, 2009
What? No Bircher muesli? Well, they say variety is the spice of life, and more importantly, I was too tired on Thursday night to prep the Bircher (I must have been really tired because it takes about a minute to put the muesli on). Plus, the thought of some hot and hearty steel-cut oats was mighty appealing.
At the bright and early hour of 6:30am, I cooked up a batch of steel-cut, keeping it simple: oats, water and salt. I topped the cooked oats with bananas, walnuts and soy milk. Not bad!
Walk and a Swim
After digesting my breakfast and getting some work done, I was ready for action. I’ve been keeping the swims short and to the point this week, largely due to a pulled chest muscle that I don’t want to aggravate. So I supplemented my swim with a walk around the park, about a mile or so, and listened to the latest This American Life podcast.
Apple, yogurt and a cup of decaf coffee
It was only 10:30 when I got back from my walk / swim, and the appetite was high. So I had some apple slices dipped in yogurt with a cup of decaf coffee.
Black bean taco with salad and avocado
The snack didn’t hold me for long – I ate lunch about an hour later. I wisely made extra salad the night before so it was easy to whip up a big tasty salad with a black bean taco.
If you have access to a stove, bean tacos are a cinch to make. Just smear a tortilla with beans and put it on the stove on a low heat – I used leftovers from the night before, but canned refried beans work well for this. While it heats up, add all your toppings. DONE.
Walk to the Grocery Store
After a couple hours in front of the computer I needed to stretch my legs, so I decided to get something useful done at the same time. The round trip to the store and back is about a mile.
Indian feast: Cauliflower dal with panch phoran, savoy cabbage thoran, raita and raw veggies
In the late afternoon I decided to put aside some work and make Tim a mix CD for Valentines Day. I guess this got me in the mood to do something special for dinner. Tim had already requested dal and cabbage for dinner, so I went the extra mile with raita and veggies. I also bought a few Cobra beers during my shopping excursion and made a feast out o
I’ve already blogged about the Cauliflower Dal with Panch Phoran, a recipe from Susan and one of our staple meals. The savoy cabbage is another regular, a recipe from Das Sreedharan’s The New Taste of India cookbook.
The raita is a relative newbie to the Indian feast. I bought a massive 2kg tub of Greek yogurt to go with my muesli, but this stuff was just a little too tart. I thought it might work well for savory dishes so I tried it with the raita recipe from The Essential Madhur Jaffrey. Raita is a yogurt and cucumber relish that makes a nice cooling accompaniment to spicy Indian curries. I’ve tried several raita recipes in the past but this one stood out as superb. It’s easy enough that I think it will become a mainstay for my Indian feasts, and for snacking in general – it’s a delicious dip for veggies!
This is a recipe from the The Essential Madhur Jaffrey, a great Indian cookbook whose only failing (so far) is its lack of pretty pictures.
The secret to this raita’s success is the roasted and ground cumin seeds. To roast cumin seeds, simply place them on a pan on a medium to high heat. When they’ve turned a darker shade of brown and have become fragrant, move them to a mortar and pestle and mash away!
1 cucumber, peeled and shredded
425g plain yogurt
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp roasted, ground cumin seeds
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl. Mix well. Serve with dal, curries, salads, raw veggies, or eat on its own.