Here’s a crazy fact to ponder… did you know that the revenue in the ‘Snack Food’ industry in Australia alone amounted to over 2 billion in 2019? That’s over half of the fruit and veg industry combined, just on snacks (which fruit and veg are NOT categorised as, by the way. Fancy that!). Wowsas! Just take a minute to think about the sheer volume of soft plastics and non-recyclable packaging that is produced from this new way of consuming an often individually portioned snack, let alone the quality of the farming of the raw materials and the added lab-made ingredients.
It got me thinking – when did all this packaged guff start to become the norm and what happened to just munching on a carrot when you’re a little peckish, or getting your protein at main meals instead of in powdered form and processed bars? With less than 10% of Aussies getting in their recommended fruit and veg intake each day, is there perhaps not an opportunity to redefine the snack? I remember taking my little guy out and sitting on a park bench with him and eating a carrot and a few salted, cooked chick peas for a snack when he was hungry and people being shocked and calling him a ‘good boy’. He’s a hungry boy and it’s food. It’s not some sort of special achievement to eat a carrot but I guess we’ve come to a place culturally where it is, and that’s something we have to face if we’re ever going to fix it.
As Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food argues, ‘dining has been stripped of its ceremony and has been replaced by a lot of snacking and thoughtless noshing.’ He laments that the multi-billion-dollar food industry has engineered foods in a lab so that we can continue to eat insane amounts of them, rather than just cutting back a little and concentrating on whole foods that don’t have to be tweaked by science. Sadly, we’ve turned away from our roots through some very clever advertising by Big Food, and it’s up to us to remind each other that simple is always best. Three documentaries you might like to watch if you’re keen to get educated or simply feel excited about what real food’s gifts are again, a personal favourite Sustainable and Food Matters, Ingredients Inc and Fed Up are good too.
So, in the spirit of bringing things back to simplicity and ease with a side effect of deep nourishment, I’ve pulled together a list of 15 single ingredients package-free snacks that you can turn to when you’re hunting around the pantry. If you’re currently 100% in packaged food land for snacks, don’t panic. Go slow, do a mix of packet and wholefood ‘plates’ to start with so it’s my old winning formula of ‘something familiar, something new’ and over time you can reduce the packets more and more.
A little caveat before we dive in – yes these are solo ingredient recipes ‘ish’ – we’re not counting a dash of oil or a sprinkle of Himalayan sea salt because really…those staples in your pantry can elevate any ingredient and it’d be a shame to leave them out!
#1 Carrot Sticks
Simply wash the skin and eat as is if organic or peel if conventional is what you have access to, or for little kiddies, you can pre-chop and store in the fridge in a half-filled jar of water for freshness. Put them at the front of the shelf for an easy-grab option. Carrots make for a good snack when you’re craving the crunch factor, and they’re rich in betacarotene, potassium, vitamin K and antioxidants.
#2 Roasted Chickpeas
Pop a drained and rinsed BPA-free tin of chickpeas onto a tray (or soak for 24 hours in water with a squeeze of lemon juice and cook well and drain to then roast). Drizzle with some olive oil and sea salt (add a cheeky spice in there if you fancy), and roast at 200 degrees for 15-25 minutes, or until golden and crunchy. Store in a jar, and you’ve got the perfect salty protein-rich snack to keep you away from the chips packet. These are dirt cheap too especially if you buy dried chickpeas from the bulk foods store.
#3 Half an avocado
Such a simple and delightful snack. All you need is half a fresh, ripe avocado and a spoon. Add a sprinkle of salt if you like. This is the easiest way to get satiated quickly. I challenge you to eat this when you have cravings, and see if you still feel the chocolate niggle afterwards. Avocados have a rich source of vitamins, fibre, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids, which makes for a nourishing snack. Studies also show they demonstrate positive heart healthy effects on blood lipids profile so an ideal snack for big a little people.
#4 A banana
Fruit has had a bad rap over the last few years, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with a beautiful fresh banana. Give me one of these over a sugary packaged snack anyday. Bananas are super rich in potassium, a great source of energy and balanced with plenty of fibre to support digestion. Hot tip if you are sensitive to fructose, slice up the banana, and add a spoonful of nut butter to mediate any blood sugar spikes.
#5 Cucumber sticks
You don’t even need to slice your cucumber! Simply, give it a wash and munch away. But of course, if you’re in a work environment or on the go, it might be more socially acceptable to do so hehe. They’re 96% water, making them filling and hydrating to the body.
These little gems are loaded with antioxidants, which are great for supporting healthy immune function and reducing oxidative damage. They’re also the ultimate low-fructose snack, meaning you won’t have an energy crash post snack.
#7 A few strips of beef jerky
Best to source this from a good quality grass-fed beef supplier. If you’re Sydney based, The Ethical Farmer’s have the most delicious jerky! Beef jerky is packed with protein, making it an ideal mid-afternoon snack. A few strips will leave you satiated and curve any salty cravings you might be having. The trick is not to go overboard (easy to do) because jerky is dehydrated. Too much in one sitting will be tough on your digestive tract.
Image via Pinterest
#8 Baked kale chips
A perfect way to get your dark leafy greens in is through baking up some kale chips in the oven. Here’s my simple recipe for Easy Peasy Kale Chips. Given the store bought variety cost about $6 a bag – these are definitely are more cost and yield effective option! Kale is also a great source of vitamin C, iron and antioxidants. No wonder they call it a superfood.
#9 Mixed (or single) Berry Sorbet
If you’ve got a bag of frozen berries and you’re craving a sweet treat on a summer afternoon, you can throw two cups into a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth. I add a couple of tablespoons of coconut cream to make it nice and creamy, but you can leave out. You might also want, for the 100% berry version, to add a tablespoon of honey so it’s not too tart for the wholefood-uninitiated. Baby steps, right? It is SO delicious and complete satisfies that sorbet craving. This works with any frozen foods like mango, banana, strawberries.
(Image via Pinterest)
#10 Homemade Popped Popcorn
If you or the little ones are wanting something fun to snack on, pop some popcorn in a pan and season with some Himalayan salt and organic butter. You can add a fancy twist with my turmeric popcorn, too. It goes down a treat. Try to always use organic, GMO-free kernels and keep it to a small bowl so you don’t overload your digestive system.
#11 Tinned Wild-Caught Sardines
These are such a lovely snack (if you’re that way inclined. I get that these aren’t for everyone, but I include them because my son will literally open a tin and down the lot and my theory is, is that he’s in touch with an omega 3 need.). Sardines are one of the most nutritious sources of food going. One tin contains nearly 5 times the recommended daily intake for omega 3s, they are packed with protein and calcium, and they’re eaten by many centurians who live in blue zones around the world.
#12 Boiled egg
The humble egg is a complete high protein snack all packaged for you. You can simply boil a batch of these at the beginning of the week and peel as needed, or fry up a 1-minute, 2-egg omelette on the spot. If you’re iffy about the health claims that eggs are no good, the BBC has written a great article summarising all their benefits with links to research. In summary – studies have found that those who ate eggs every day had an 18% lower risk of death from heart disease and 28% lower risk of stroke death compared to those who didn’t eat eggs. How eggcellent hehe! Read the full review here.
#13 Full-fat Greek Yoghurt OR Coconut Yoghurt
Yoghurt is once again one of those great satiating snacks (much like avocado, sardines, or eggs), that will fill a hole in the tummy quick smart, as long as you’re opting for full-fat, unsweetened variety (ideally organic). Dairy yoghurt is rich in protein and live cultures – so a good option for the gut (if tolerated). If not, coconut yoghurt is a satiating snack, too.
#14 A heaped teaspoon of nut butter
If you’re hankering for something that tastes a little indulgent but isn’t, have a tablespoon of nut butter – you could also have it on some slices of banana or apple. The healthy dose of fats and protein will keep you satiated until your next meal. Always ensure you’re having nut butter that is 100% ground nuts and go for almonds, macadamia or brazil nut spread for the best dose of nutrients. If you’re sensitive to molds, steer clear of peanut butter as it can sometimes be high in ochratoxin A.
# 15 Root Veggie Chips
You may have seen these cropping up in health food stores or even in the “healthy” aisle of the supermarkets. Sadly many of these seemingly healthy chips are actually cooked in cheap inflammatory omega6-rich vegetable oils like canola, vegetable, soybean or rapeseed oils. The good news, they’re so easy to make at home and far cheaper! All you need to do is mandolin or thinly slice some sweet potato and beet (washed with skin on), coat in coconut or olive oil, and season with salt. Bake for 20-35 minutes in a hot oven at around 200C or 180C/350F fanforced until crispy and you’re good to go!
(Image credit: Trader Jo’s)
So there we go – 15 delicious, waste-free, nutrient-dense, easy peasy one ingredient snack for you to enjoy. Have I missed any? Share some ideas below! Sometimes on the holidays it can be all too tempting to load up on packed and, while I do have a few packaged items in the mix from time to time, I wanted to create a list for us that got us focused on the possibilities from simple, quick whole foods too!
Low Tox. Healthy People. Happy Planet