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Night Owl Snacking, Ouch!

Snacking has become so ingrained in our culture in the past few decades that it almost seems like it’s what we’re supposed to be doing. Who can watch television without gobbling down a bag of microwave popcorn? I mean, what’s the point? Well, when you think of it this way, you may not be so proud of those evening munchies (I know, I’m not!). On average, women consume 624 empty calories each day, according to information published by the USDA. Imagine consuming only 1500 calories a day, and more than 600 of those are junk!

What are empty calories? They’re calories that are completely devoid of nutrition. They may contain carbohydrates, fats and chemicals, but their nutritional content is severely lacking. Because of the carbs and fat, your body will think it’s fully nourished when it is, in fact, starving for nutrients. So, instead of noshing on the junk food, maybe we can create a new happy hour; one that is as happy for our bodies as it is for our minds.

Here are some great happy hour food swaps that should do the trick:

Popped amaranth – Did you know that you can pop more than just popcorn? Amaranth is an ancient grain that is loaded with fiber, protein and potassium, and you can pop it in the same way you can pop popcorn. Well, on the stovetop; not the microwave. Season it with a little olive oil and sea salt.

Roasted chickpeas – Sometimes, you’re just craving the right mix of crunch and spice, and Doritos aren’t on the approved diet foods list. Drain and rinse chickpeas from the can, place them in a large bowl and toss with olive oil, cayenne pepper, chili powder and sea salt. Spread the seasoned chickpeas on a baking dish and bake for 45 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Kale chips – Kale chips are the perfect substitute for when you’re craving a good old fashioned potato chip. Now, don’t get me wrong; they don’t taste exactly the same, but they’ll definitely satisfy your craving for a salty snack. They’re made much in the same way as roasted chickpeas. Break the kale leaves into bite sized pieces and toss them in a large bowl with olive oil and salt. If you want to get fancy, you can add other seasonings. Lay the leaves flat on a baking sheet and bake for eight to 12 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

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