By Gloria Altherr
The best excuse for staring into that treasure trove of goodies, aka the vending machine, is ” I don’t have time to eat right because I work crazy hours.” For a perpetual snacker like me, it sounds darn reasonable any time of the day, but especially when it gets late. I’ve also been trying to lose that last 15 pounds of baby weight (the baby turned ten) forever. Time to get serious!
I decided that I needed to get fuel from better sources than those small bags of delicious, crunchy, chocolatey, calorie-filled goodness. It’s time for small bags of delicious, crunchy, sometimes chocolatey, good food. And while I was at it, I’d get the whole family involved because it seemed to make sense.
I added quantities of seasonal vegetables and occasional fruits to my shopping lists twice a week. This means four pounds of green beans when in season. I steam them lightly (you don’t want to kill the crunch) and place them in a large bowl in the fridge. I remove a large container for myself every morning, and smaller ones for the children’s lunch boxes. Insta-snacks! Carrot sticks, celery sticks, pomegranate seeds, even the occasional chocolate drizzled rice cake, make for crunchy treats that make snacking healthier and low calorie, not to mention less expensive than machine fare. There’s a wonderful root vegetable called jicama, which I peel, cut into French fry-like sticks and douse in lemon juice. It’s very refreshing and will have coworkers asking, “what’s that?” every time.
Now, our fridge is full of bowls of one vegetable or another. The children have their favorites and I make certain we have variety from local farmers’ markets. We’ve had our duds (there aren’t too many calls for baked parsnip curls). Creativity can sometimes backfire. But, lunches and after school snacks always include a sampling of some veggie or another.
Cookies are not banned, just not the first option. We always have rice cakes, almonds raisins, and low fat cheese sticks available, too, to round things out. My husband has even jumped on the veggie bandwagon to a degree.
I usually bring most of my food to work. Cooking is a weekend pleasure so I’ll steam pots of brown rice and throw it into little bowls during the week. A piece of fish or a bit of stir fry from dinner, some veggie containers and I’m set. Keeping sugar, salt and white flour at bay has given me more energy and strangely, stress seems less pronounced.
It’s a bit of work, but worth it. I still manage to consume my body weight in food every day (or so it seems). But, the pants feel better and I’ve saved a nice bit from not buying calorie-laden snacks and food from local places. Yes, a candy bar calls once in a while, and I answer… once in a while.