It’s 7pm. You just finished dinner an hour ago, and you are still hungry! Are you? Maybe you are stressed, pissed off, bored, or just tired?
Or maybe you had a skimpy breakfast, missed lunch, and had a light dinner on the go. Maybe you are hungry.
If you reflect on you day, and come to the conclusion, “wow, I really didn’t eat a lot today”, this may mean it is time for a snack. (Sidenote: this is where using food tracking apps and site, such as MyFitnessPal.com – friend me @mgorski2 – can come in handy)
Another scenario for you: You get home for dinner, kids are gone, spouse is gone, and you are hungry. Nothing pre-made, nothing in the fridge really… order pizza, eat a bag of chips, or just get right to the ice cream. It happens.
With these two scenarios being pretty common, it is best to revisit the old adage of “Fail to plan, plan to fail”.
In both scenarios, you are feeling real, physical hunger. (Emotional hunger is a different beast for another time) This means it is time to eat. That is only half the battle. If nothing is prepared or you don’t have any go-to’s in the fridge, it can be so easy to reach for the nearest bag of **** and go to pound town.
To avoid this from happening, I recommend keeping the following foods, ALWAYS stocked in your house.
1) Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese is a pure protein delight. A cup of 2% packs 27 grams of protein, 8 grams of carbs, and 6 grams of fat. This is a great late afternoon, or even after dinner snack. The protein helps with fullness, while not adding to your waistline.
When to Eat: anytime. Use it as a main protein source of a meat-free meal, a mid afternoon snack, or even a later day snack to help reach your protein goals, without adding a ton of fat or carbs to your diet. Try adding black pepper, fresh chives or basil to flavor it up a little.
2) Unsalted Premium Mixed Nuts
I say premium just because the non-premium are about 75% peanuts with some almonds tossed in. The premium nuts have heart healthy almonds, walnuts, cashews, and pecans loaded in the mix. The one thing to be cautious with is the calories. One ounce (pictured below), contains 172 calories, mostly from healthy fats. It is not a lot quantity wise, but it can hold you over until your next meal if you are really hungry.
When to Eat: Use mixed nuts as filler snacks (as long as you can control your portion). They can also be used on salads to provide some fat, or crushed up as “breading” for chicken or fish – try pecans or walnuts here.
I will take this one step further and say “hardboiled eggs” (yolks are ok! – Read HERE). These can be quick protein snacks, or make up part of a whole meal. One egg is about 80 calories and 6 grams of protein. Even having eggs for breakfast is not as time consuming as many people think. Heat some olive oil or coconut oil in a pan on medium. Wait 2-3 minutes, then crack your eggs right into the pan and scramble up in the pan. This saves dishes and time. Keep the eggs moving to prevent burning (I HATE burnt eggs), add black pepper, and they should be done in 2-3 minutes. You can’t tell me that sacrificing your health and eating some sugar filled cereal is worth more time than 4-6 minutes. Combine with some fresh berries (no time at all) and you have a great, high protein breakfast in under 10 minutes.
When to Eat: breakfast or as a protein source at a snack or non-meat meal.
4) Fresh Berries
As I just mentioned, fresh berries can be added to a meal to make it complete and very flavorful. Berries are my favorite fruit, far and above all other fruits, because of their natural sweetness and uber high does of vitamins and polyphenols. I like strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and black berries.
While they may be more expensive than other fruits, they are very worth it. The quantities you can eat without sacrificing calories is awesome, and they are loaded with fiber (especially rasp and black).
When to Eat: as a side with a meal, or in plain yogurt to add flavor. Flavored yogurts are loaded with crap sugar. Instead, buy plain, and blend in some fresh berries. This adds a ton of flavor, and fractions of the sugar. If you are having berries as a snack during a hunger pang, I would pair up with a protein source too – to help with fullness.
Beans are the long lost and forgotten carbohydrate of the western world. A great majority of the world lives off of beans and rice, yet we tend to reach for processed “healthy” garbage like rice-cakes when we are hungry. No need. Beans can fill a carb and protein void quickly and with tons of health benefit. You can buy beans super cheap – especially dried beans – and they last forever. A half cup of black beans – and most other beans at that – contains 20 grams of carbs (8 of which are fiber) and 8 grams of protein.
When to Eat: Add canned, rinsed beans to your eggs in the morning as a great carb source. Add beans to the side dish of any meal – you can replace your bread based carb. Or try making an awesome black bean salad to use as a side dish paired with a good meat protein source.
- 2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 ear fresh cooked corn, kernels cut off the cob
- 2 red bell peppers, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 red onion, diced
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon lime zest (be sure to zest limes before juicing them)
- 6 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
- Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Cover and chill for a few hours or overnight. Garnish with a more chopped cilantro if desired. Serve at room temperature.
Cals Per Serving: 212 – Carbs 31g, Protein 10g, Fat 6g
These are my 5 personal favorite staples to always keep on hand for crunch times or when you aren’t feeling like preparing something extravagant but also want to stay on track with your eating plan.
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Stay healthy my friends,