Holiday Shopping Emergency Snack Kit

It’s coming whether we are ready or not!  This busy holiday season is upon us and, if you are like me, you will be frantically running around trying to get things done.  As we all know, malls and shopping centers are great places to shop for a variety of gifts, but they are also known for their unhealthy fast food restaurants, snacks, and food courts.  These places are traps for mindless eating (eating even though you aren’t really hungry) and this can pose real problems for anyone trying to stay healthy.

For many, shopping can be hard work and very stressful, so adding additional guilt from eating low-nutrient, sugary, greasy foods on top of all that is not ideal.  The goal is to come home from a day of shopping with a sense of accomplishment, not defeat.

Strategies such as eating a healthy meal before you go out, staying hydrated, and taking pre-packed nutritious treats like a holiday shopping emergency snack kit can keep you on track and energized so you can power through that list of gifts with confidence! Healthy snacking on nutrient-dense foods can help balance your blood sugar levels, curb your appetite, and can make a difference in your overall health.  Nutrient-dense foods are defined as those high in lean protein, vitamins, minerals, and complex carbohydrates , but low in saturated fats, sodium, and refined sugars.  With these types of foods, you get the most nutrients from fewer calories.

Healthy Holiday Snacking

A healthy emergency snack kit can make all the difference in your busy day.  Your snack kit should contain a perfect balance of these nutrient-dense foods and should be able to travel with you wherever you go. Non-perishable items, like granola, nuts and dried fruit, offer the most flexibility, nutrition, and flavor.  Hunger can hit at any moment and you want to be able to reach into your purse, glove box, or backpack and pull out something that will keep you fueled until your next meal.

Preparing an emergency snack kit ahead of time and having it on hand can make snacking while shopping easy, quick, and guilt-free (and cheaper too)! The trick to making your snack kit delicious, nutritious and fun is variety.  The best thing about these kits is that you can try almost anything and switch them up anytime so they never get boring. Sweet and salty combos always taste great and are sure to leave you feeling satisfied.  Don’t be afraid to experiment with more unique superfoods like dried kale, milk thistle seeds or dried dragon fruit.

 

Below are a few dietitian-approved ingredients to consider for your holiday shopping emergency snack kit:

  • Almonds – A handful of almonds is great way to satisfy hunger. Twenty-two pieces contain 6 grams of protein, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and fiber.
  • Dry Roasted Edamame – This roasted version of your favorite soybean treat is great for adding a rich, nutty crunch to your snack.  A 1-ounce serving boasts a whopping 9 grams of protein along with fiber, vitamin A, calcium, and iron.
  • Goji Berries – These sweet berries are full of antioxidants and vitamin C to help boost your immune system and keep you healthy for the holidays.
  • Crunchy Dried Mulberries – These fun crunchy snacks are full of anthocyanins and resveratrol -antioxidants known to decrease inflammation and reduce your risk of heart disease.
  • Shredded Organic Coconut – A yummy add-in for any snack, coconut has iron and zinc to boost your energy and your immune system.  These little shreds are also full of fiber to keep you satisfied between meals!
  • Granola with Flax and Hemp Seeds – Granola is so versatile and comes in many varieties.  When mixed with hemp and flax, a handful of granola (about 2 ounces) has 6 grams of protein, 1 gram of iron, 34 grams of carbohydrates.  Flax and hemp provide omega-3 fatty acids making granola a good source of fuel for your body and your brain.
  • Milk Thistle Seeds – Milk thistle contains silymarin, which has anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer properties and may help detoxify the liver.  These amazing seeds have a wonderful herb taste similar to fennel and are a great source of protein, healthy fats, and antioxidants.
  • Dragon Fruit – Dragon fruit provides a unique flavor that is only slightly sweet and is packed with antioxidants, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids.  Dragon fruit also tends to have fewer calories than other dried fruit options.
  • Baked Kale – If you are looking to add the perfect savory flavor for your snack, try some dried and slightly salted baked kale.  It is high in protein, complex carbohydrates, potassium, and fiber, and is very low in calories.

 

Healthy Holiday Snacking

Remember this easy equation when making your next emergency snack kit.  Simply combine 4 ounces of protein, 3 ounces of granola, high-fiber cereal, or popcorn, 2 ounces of dried fruit, and 1 ounce of a sweet treat.

STEP 1: Incorporate a protein – 4 ounces

  • Peanuts
  • Cashews
  • Almonds
  • Pepitas (Pumpkin Seeds)
  • Pistachios
  • Macadamia Nuts
  • Walnuts
  • Pecans

 

STEP 2: For a nice crunch add granola, high-fiber cereal, or popcorn – 3 ounces

  • High-Fiber, High-Protein Oat Cereals
  • Crunchy Shredded Wheat Cereals
  • Granola Cluster Mixes containing Flax, Hemp, Chia, or Milk Thistle Seeds
  • Bran Flakes or Shredded Wheat Bran Cereals
  • Air-Popped Popcorn

 

STEP 3: Pick a chewy or crunchy dried fruit– 2 ounces

  • Goji Berries
  • Banana Chips
  • Raisins
  • Currants
  • Cranberries
  • Cherries
  • Coconut Flakes
  • Dragon Fruit

 

STEP 4: Add a kick or sweet treat – 1 ounce

  • Dark Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans
  • Dark Chocolate Covered Ginger
  • Cocoa Dusted Almonds
  • Candied Ginger
  • Yogurt Covered Pretzels or Raisins
  • Peanut Butter or Butterscotch Chips

 

STEP 5: Mix all ingredients in a small bowl and transfer to small, airtight containers or zipper-lock plastic bags using a ¼- cup measuring cup.  At approximately 160-calories per ¼ cup serving, snack mixes can be stored for up to two weeks or even longer if refrigerated.

 

Healthy Holiday Snacking

  • Dragon Tail Trail Mix: Try this crazy combination of tangy dragon fruit and ginger that is packed with antioxidants to fight those free radicals like a dragon!
    • 4 oz. Raw Almonds
    • 3 oz. High-Fiber Shredded Wheat Squares
    • 2 oz. Dragon Fruit
    • 1 oz. Dark Chocolate Covered Ginger

 

  • OMG GORP: This healthy combination plays on the old “Good Old Raisins and Peanuts” theme for trail mix but adds a punch of omega-rich coconut and flax.  OMG!
    • 4 oz. Peanuts
    • 3 oz. Granola Clusters with Flax Seeds
    • 2 oz. Coconut Flakes
    • 1 oz. -Chocolate Covered Raisins

 

  • Espresso Yourself: This combination of cranberries and espresso beans is high in protein, vitamin C, and iron, for a tremendous kick to keep you going all day long!
    • 4 oz. Cashews
    • 3 oz. High Protein Oat Cereal
    • 2 oz. Cranberries
    • 1 oz. Dark Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans

 

Any way you mix it, an emergency snack kit is a great way to help you get through those cravings and say “no” to those cinnamon rolls and french fries as you cruise the mall.  Stash some snack kits in your glove box and in your purse for those hectic days of running errands or standing in lines.

 

Additional Healthy Holiday Eating Tips:

  • Don’t forget to grab a water bottle and eat a good breakfast high in protein before you take off for the day.
  • Eat mindfully. It is okay to indulge a little bit this time of year, but don’t use the holidays as an excuse to go overboard.  Savor your absolute favorites and leave the mediocre treats behind.

 

It is possible to stay on track this busy holiday season!  In fact, with all of that extra mall walking, you might even find that you can lose a couple of pounds if you just incorporate a few simple tips. Now if you could just survive that upcoming Christmas Party.

 

This post was written by Eat Chic Chicago intern Liz Gold. Liz is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Dietetics from Eastern Michigan University.  Her interest in nutrition focuses on strengthening the immune system through clean eating, creating a balanced life, and obtaining harmony within the body.  

Comments

  1. Michaele Gold

    Great article; great ideas!

  2. Susie klepak

    Extremely well written and fun article! Way to go, Liz!

  3. Jaime Seranella

    Liz, wonderful article and very detailed. Thank you so much.

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