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In winter, it’s tempting to fill our tums and lunch boxes with comfort, rather than healthy foods. Let’s rather get the best of both with our snacking plans.

The relentless task of packing lunch boxes for work and school gets even more tiresome in winter. And we know we’re going to want to choose something nutritionally dense that hits our comfort spot – possibly because we spend more time indoors or perhaps our brains are wired to add an extra layer of fat when the weather gets colder. Whatever the reason, the problem is that munching our way through a box of chocolate chip cookies may make us feel happier, but because it doesn’t meet our nutritional requirements, we’ll soon feel hungry again and need to eat more.

Follow our guide to nutritious snacking that will keep you warm and satisfied this chilly season.

Guilt-free goodies
Avoid the temptation of the tea trolley or tucks hop by filling your lunchbox with a truly delicious, filling snack that isn’t loaded with kilojoules:

Wheat-free muffins
Try making your own wheat-free muffins. Just add whatever chopped veggies take your fancy – peppers, mushrooms, courgettes, corn, etc. Sprinkle with grated cheese, top up with scrambled egg and pop in the oven. These only take about 15 minutes to bake, so you can get them done while you shower and get dressed in the morning. Great eaten hot or cold.

Popcorn
Want to make the kids happy? Give them popcorn! Plain popcorn is high in protein, complex carbohydrates, fibre, vitamin A, folate, potassium, phosphorus and iron, while coconut oil plays a role in increasing immune function. Try to avoid salt, but rather remember that popcorn is a blank canvas, and flavour your popcorn with whatever (naturally) takes your fancy.

Sweet potato crisps
Just as tasty, and much healthier than your spud variety! Slice them finely with a mandolin, drizzle with olive oil, a pinch of salt and any herb or spice flavour. Roast them in the oven on a non-stick tray until they are crisp, but not burnt. If you plan to buy them, do check the label first – many shop brands are loaded with salt and not much nutritional value.

Toasted Almonds
Pack a tub of 10 toasted and spiced almonds – experiment with different flavours at home. Almonds are packed with protein, fibre and healthy fat, the spices are also loaded with immune-boosting properties.

Chickpeas
Chickpeas are another underrated potential snack. Full of fibre, as well as iron, phosphate, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and vitamin K, chickpeas are all essential for good bone health, while selenium helps the liver to function properly. Use a tin of cooked chickpeas and follow this easy and tasty recipe for a delicious, crunchy snack.
Roast them with various flavours (lemon-pepper is really good) and keep a container of these handy for when the munchies strike. Not only that, you can use them to add interest to your soup or salad.

Oatmeal
A bowl of hot oatmeal is just what the doctor ordered on a cold winter’s morning or as an after-school snack. Literally. The soluble fibre is oatmeal helps lower bad cholesterol and slows down the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream, so it helps to reduce our overall cholesterol levels. If you have a slow cooker, you can cook your oatmeal overnight and enjoy a steaming bowl in at teatime with no effort.

Berries
Berries are gorgeous, tasty and loaded with antioxidants and polyphenols to help fight chronic disease and cancer. They’re great for snacking on, but also perfect for adding some sweetness to your morning oatmeal or smoothie.

Sunflower seeds
These are rich in potassium, fibre and Vitamin E. You can eat them raw or try roasting them (and other seeds) for variety. Our favourite: sprinkle with some Egyptian Dukkah (sesame seeds, hazelnuts (if you’re not allergic, of course), coriander and cumin seeds, freshly ground black pepper, sea salt a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Dried fruit
Dried fruit contains quite a lot of sugar, but it’s a perfect fuel when you need an energy boost. Once inside your stomach, dried fruit increases in size, so a very little goes a long way to making you feel full.

Guavas
Guavas are a wonderful winter fruit. Full of antioxidants, iron and vitamin C, they don’t need peeling, and absolutely every bit is edible, so they are the perfect no-mess snack. Stewed in water with a little brown sugar and some cinnamon sticks, they make a wonderful warming winter dessert.

Prep and contain:
How you store your snack makes a marked difference to how delicious it will be when it’s time to snack:
If you’re at home or at work with access to a microwave, you have the option to eat a healthy, warm snack, but it’s a bit more tricky packing warm snacks for school lunch boxes. Not impossible though – with just a little planning, it can be done!

  • It’s not hard to find insulated, foil-lined lunch boxes, which will also help to keep your snacks warm for several hours.
  • Make tin foil your friend and keep your muffins, hard-boiled eggs, mini meatballs, veggie fritters, etc., warm.
  • Mini pizzas loaded with veggies and cheese can be quickly warmed in the microwave in the morning and then wrapped in tin foil. They won’t stay hot, but will still be warm at lunchtime. The same goes for wraps – make them the night before, give them a blast in the microwave in the morning, then wrap your wrap.
  • If you don’t already have one, winter is the time to get yourself a small steel flask – great especially for kids as they don’t break like the old glass vacuum flask cylinders. Homemade, low-sodium soup, sugar-free hot chocolate and hot smoothies are all great snacking choices for winter.

Enjoy your treats!

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