Hunger pangs distracting you at work? Here are some quick recipes for healthy snacks that will satisfy your cubicle cravings!
Around 4 in the afternoon, a while after your lunch break, comes a smug realization that you’ve made it through half the day, tackled a substantial chunk of the workload and sooner than later you’ll wrap up and head home. With this thought, the day turns unseemly sluggish. So to perk myself up, I resort to a snack that gets me gambolling towards the finish line.
Surely snacking at work isn’t a personal quirk but a widely manifested phenomenon. It deems to be taken seriously, because the seemingly harmless little morsels of whatever you stuff your face with in between meals, add up and affect your wellbeing. However, isn’t it convenient to walk into the office canteen, a nearby pizzeria, fast food joint or to a street food hawker to get a quick fix?
Can you hope to gain one up on the convenience and lure of snacking on junk or processed food? With careful planning, organizing and some quick recipes in your repertoire, you can.
Hummus is a popular dip consumed in the Middle East. A quick recipe: blend (two fistfuls of) boiled chickpeas which are high-protein legumes, with two tablespoons of tahini (sesame seed paste), one crushed garlic, pinch of salt and pepper, two tablespoons of olive oil and lemon juice.
You can replace tahini with peanut butter, chickpeas with white beans, black beans and add sun-dried tomatoes or roasted bell pepper for more flavour and colour. I prepare a substantial quantity of hummus and snack on it throughout the week with carrots, celery, cucumber, toasted pita, brown bread or whole-grain crackers.
Dips such as this, have great nutritional value, are easy to make in bulk, can be stored for long, and are portable as well as tasty. Baba ghanoush, a Levantine dip, prepared by blending roasted aubergines (without skin) with olive oil, tahini / peanut butter, crushed garlic and the usual seasonings is another keeper!
If you’ve boiled chickpeas for hummus, steal some, drizzle olive oil, coriander and cumin powders, seasonings, smoked paprika and roast in the oven at 220 degrees for 20 minutes. Or toss salted pumpkin seeds with sesame oil, garam masala powder and bake at 350 degrees until crisp. Voila! A crispy and healthy snack is ready!
Popcorn – high in fibre, low in calories – is a healthy snack if made without butter and salt. Pop some in olive oil and keep a jar of that on your desk.
If you are making spaghetti meatballs or kebabs for dinner – both easy to cook in bulk and store – save some, because once you throw them in a pita pocket, slather some of that creamy hummus, top it with sliced onions, lettuce and herbs – you get an irresistible snack. Use whole meal tortilla instead to make wraps, slice them into bite size pieces and carry that to work.
Another great idea for a healthy snack is mini sandwiches made with the filling prepared for stuffed paratha – like spicy mashed potatoes, pureed green peas, paneer, and minced soyabean.
Refrigerate boiled pasta – macaroni / fusilli / farfalle, boiled eggs and boiled vegetables – carrots, beans, potatoes, beets over the weekend and whip up a cold pasta salad by mixing these with salad dressing. If you want fancy, add fresh herbs, olives, leftover kebabs, cherry tomatoes, lemon juice, pack in an airtight container and you are good to go.
The next day, mix the vegetables and eggs (boiled and cubed) with two tablespoons of low-fat mayonnaise, a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, seasonings and snack on a delicious Russian salad.
Next time you prepare rajma-chawal, save some boiled kidney beans in the fridge. Prepare a healthy salsa snack by adding cubed mangoes, chopped onions, tomatoes, green chillis, fresh coriander, chopped lime leaves, olive oil, seasonings and lemon juice. Give it a shake and pack it to work.
How about storing a jar of low-calorie chivda at office? Roast a cup of poha (pressed rice), along with peanuts in a non-stick pan. Heat oil, add mustard seeds, chana dal, green chillis, curry leaves, asafoetida and turmeric, sauté, add the poha, seasonings, mix well and it’s done.
Or make yourself a trail mix of unsalted cashews, almonds, walnuts, dry raisins, and dates and keep that handy.
Healthy oatmeal cookies can be made in 15 minutes by mixing whole wheat flour (1/2 cup), all-purpose flour (maida) (1/2 cup), 1 teaspoon baking powder with oil (1/3 cup), brown sugar (2/3 cup), one egg, one teaspoon vanilla, rolled oats (1/2 cup) and raisins. Roll two tablespoons of dough per cookie into balls and bake them till light brown.
If you didn’t plan in advance, what could be easier than slicing some fruits, pouring a dollop of flavoured yoghurt and taking a deliciously healthy yoghurt parfait to work? Or make a smoothie by blending your favourite fruits with a cup of yoghurt and snack on that.
Once you get the hang of it, you’ll surprise yourself with your creativity and who knows, even convert your co-workers, spouse, and friends to healthy snacking.
*Photo credit: Somali Roy.