Healthy, Filling Snacks to Keep at Your Desk
September 16, 2013
Find out what Registered Dietitian Alina Zolotareva keeps in her office snack drawer.
Like most young professionals juggling a budding career, a constantly expanding list of hobbies and a social life that can be a career in and of itself, I often have trouble finding time for my basic needs -- especially when it comes to eating well. Constantly on-the-go, I usually snack more often than I sit down for a full meal, which makes eating a balanced diet tricky -- even as a registered dietitian.
I spend most of my day at the office where I tend to have most of my meals and snacks. That may sound depressing to some, but I’ve actually found it to be a fantastic way to stick to a balanced diet. The way I see it, if I fill up my snack drawer and tiny fridge corner with healthy food, I won’t have much choice but to actually eat it when hunger strikes (especially when I don’t have time to leave the office midday to hunt for sustenance).
To avoid being subjected to the vending machine diet, I usually keep the following snacks in-house to ensure that instead I’m eating nutrient-dense food that keeps me full, focused and energized throughout the day.
So what’s in my desk (snack) drawer?
- Roasted, unsalted nuts such as almonds, peanuts, pecans, cashews, etc. I usually have a small handful as a snack or add them to salads, yogurt, oatmeal, cereal, etc. Nuts are great for crunch, and flavor as well as a boost of protein, healthy fats and nutrients. I only buy the unsalted kind because we all know how hard it is to stop eating salty nuts…
- I usually have a couple of fruit and nut-based bars under 200 calories on hand (Kind and Luna are my favorites) in case I need a boost of energy or something to satisfy my sweet tooth. Fruit and nut-based bars are more nutrient-dense and higher in fiber than their processed counterparts, so my cravings are kept under control and I feel satisfied for several hours after.
- Unsweetened black and green tea: I’m a coffee lover, but tea is great to sip throughout the day hot or iced for heightened alert and focus. If I have a lemon around, I throw in a slice in for tang and an antioxidant boost (have you seen our Instagram video?)
- Dark chocolate, 70% cocoa or higher. I have a huge sweet tooth for junky desserts like candy bars and ice-cream, especially between 2-5 PM. Having semi-sweet dark chocolate around is a great way to snack on something rich and sweet, but feel satisfied after one or two pieces (it’s pretty hard to overdose on a bitter piece of chocolate, I promise you). Plus, dark chocolate has a hefty dose of antioxidants in every serving, so you’re feeding both your body and your soul, so to speak.
- Plain instant oatmeal: high in fiber, warm and versatile—just add hot water! I usually add fruit and nuts for a quick breakfast or a bit of cinnamon and dark chocolate for an indulgent afternoon pick-me-up.
- Plain, unsalted popcorn: Popcorn is super-easy to make and fun to eat. Low in calories, popcorn is a whole grain that satisfies our inner child’s urge to eat something small and crunchy from a bag. If plain isn’t your thing, you can add parmesan cheese, spices, or condiments you have sitting around the office kitchen (curry powder, sriracha, sea salt, etc). But beware, your coworkers WILL expect you to share!
What’s in the fridge:
- Fresh fruit and veggies from the food cart vendor down the street. Food carts usually have reasonably-priced, fresh and seasonal fruits and veggies, and they are really easy to grab on my way to the office. If you don’t have any food carts around, there’s nothing wrong with your local supermarket!
- Hummus and/or natural almond butter: Tasty and savory, high in protein and healthy fats, hummus and nut butters are great for dipping fruits, veggies and crackers, added to a salad or yogurt, or spread over a piece of multi-grain bread. I’m more lenient with hummus, but usually stick to about 1 tbsp of nut butters to avoid calorie overload.
- Plain fat-free Greek yogurt: At just 100 calories per container and 18 g of protein per serving, fat-free Greek yogurt is by far my favorite breakfast and snack. It’s creamy and tangy at the same time, and you can add almost anything to it (fruits, nuts, veggies, honey, spices, cereal).
- Boiled (free range) eggs: I boil 3-4 every Sunday night and keep them in the office for the week. Eggs are high in protein and fat-soluble vitamins and make a great addition to breakfast, lunch or on their own as a snack.
I won’t lie to you— if a coworker bakes cookies, buys a tray of deep-fried frienemies from Donut Planet or offers me the last M&M, I don’t always reach for hummus and crudité. But having it there definitely makes it a lot easier to justify the occasional cheat.
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