Saturday, March 29, 2008

Snack Attack: Bananas, Almonds & Dark Chocolate

Somewhere between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. I hit an energy lull where my eyes glaze over and my movements become slow and lethargic. It's my own fault for (gasp!) not eating breakfast, or at least something with protein in it before noon. I've devised this tasty bag-and-go snack to quell that need for speed that hits mid-afternoon. Especially since I've learned caffeine won't fuel me through my 30s the way it did my 20s.

This snack mix is simple:
2 parts banana chips
1 part almonds (salted, toasted or raw)
1 part dark chocolate nibs

Bag it, tag it, call it a day. A few zip top bags of these in stashed in convenient places (the car, the desk, that ginormous purse) can save the day, especially when that waaaaay-to-hungry-lightheaded-bad-decision-making-feeling kicks in and you're tempted to reach for a candy bar or fatty fast food. My advice though, if you know your energy lull kicks in around 2 p.m. like mine, is to nosh on a bit of this mix sometime around 1 p.m. to hedge off the hunger attack.

How does it work?
Bananas are a source of quickly released energy with both simple and complex carbs, and a well-earned reputation for being a potassium bomb which helps to regulate carbohydrate metabolism (good news for diabetics).

Almonds offer protein and plant-based "good" fat (including heart-healthy Omega 3s) for slow-release energy, and calcium and magnesium to feed your brain. These tasty nuts have been credited for reducing cancer risk among other healthful properties.

Dark chocolate nibs give that instantly rewarding chocolate sensation (how else can you describe the affect of chocolate?) with the release of feel-good seratonin, while providing a bitter contrast to the sweetness of the banana chips. Consuming dark chocolate has been linked to a healthy cardiovascular system.

I like to use salted toasted almonds because I like the contrast of the slightly salty almonds with the sweetness of the crunchy banana chips and the bitterness of the dark chocolate. This snack mix is a hit with folks of all ages, but be forewarned as chocolate does melt in little hands and warm places.