Friday, August 23, 2013

Snack Hijack

Snacking seems to be a popular topic, especially early on in adoption of the organic lifestyle. I don't snack everyday but when my body needs some fuel, I give it to it. I recommend adopting this same self-aware approach to your own snacking. Make sure you're snacking for the right reasons.  I've gotten a lot of questions about what snacks I enjoy, in addition to the ones I listed in the post. Since we are heading into the weekend (woo-hoo!!) I thought I'd take the opportunity to arm you guys with some great snack options taken right from my own kitchen and routine. So, I'm going to share with you 15 of my go-to snacks, but not before taking a look at three snack "foods" I've seen in a lot of pantries that you need to toss in the garbage... right now. 

Throw These in the Trash - Now!

Wheat Thins (Especially Reduced Fat Wheat Thins..Throw those away, like, yesterday!)

I've seen these in friends' and family members' pantries A LOT. If I could go around at night like the Easter Bunny, removing boxes of Wheat Thins from pantries near and far and replace them with whole, safer foods, I totally would. They'd call me the Food Fairy or... Foodie Claus! In the meantime, while I wait to be accepted by that exclusive club of characters, I will remove them from pantry shelves by means of spreading awareness about what exactly you're eating. Take a look at the 22 ingredients that make up your Reduced Fat Wheat Thins:

In addition to the fact that there are WAY too many ingredients going into this seemingly simple cracker AND that the first ingredient on the list is enriched flour (just a more pleasant way of saying heavily, heavily processed!), I have one major issues with these crackers. 

1. The deadly combination of Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil (PHSO) & High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). 

This toxic team is more like a quadruple-whammy of GMO Soy, Trans Fat, GMO Corn and Highly Processed Sugar. To start, GMO's are highly controversial and totally detrimental to our own health as well as the health of our environment. I hope you know by now that anything partially hydrogenated is dangerous (and even more so when using GMO soy bean and corn oil). The trans fats from these ingredients (read: toxins) are directly linked to cancer, chronic health problems like obesity, asthma, and autoimmune disease, decreased immunity, diabetes, increased bad cholesterol, reproductive issues and more.

Then you have high fructose corn syrup which is a heavily processed sweetening additive derived from corn (typically GMO), which makes it very cheap to make but very dangerous to your body and your health for multiple reasons. As I've explained, our bodies are not meant to ingest genetically modified organisms. By genetically modifying an organism, its make-up is altered and therefore our bodies become confused and contaminated by the artificiality, often mistaking it for something else, like fat, and storing it in our cells where it wreaks havoc on our health (putting it very, very simply). Consumption of HFCS also spikes your blood sugar, causes fat deposits in your liver and constricts blood vessels. It has been linked to Diabetes, immune system damage, allergies, asthma, pre-mature aging, and more. This stuff is pure sugar, pure fat and pure garbage. Scientists have proven time and again that GMO corn, soy and others are causing serious damage to our health with no end in sight as manufacturers continue filling our stores with products full of this stuff!

What is also important to note is that a lot of genetically modified corn contains a gene that prevents it from being damaged by pesticides and herbicides. This is great for the chemical and seed company (usually the same company owns both, i.e. Monsanto, CarGill) because the farmer can plant his seeds immediately and then spray and spray and spray his chemicals, and ultimately harvest his crops sooner. Then its back to the seed company to buy more seeds and chemicals. However, as a result we are ingesting not only genetically modified materials but also foods that have been heavily contaminated by intense exposure to toxic chemicals. The chemical glyphosate, probably the most common of these toxins, is very clearly and continually proven to cause cancer and other serious illnesses. According to the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, "animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food consumption including infertility, immune dysregulation, accelerated aging, dysregulation of genes associated with cholesterol synthesis, insulin regulation, cell signaling, and protein formation, and changes in the liver, kidney, spleen and gastrointestinal system." And just in this box of Wheat Thins there are up to 3 different GMO crops at play: corn, soy bean and wheat.
Throw these away. Now.

Kashi Chewy Granola Bars 

I'm pretty sick of hearing about Kashi. I've got to hand it to them though, they've got some great marketers at work for them. They've got much of America, including my own friends and family, believing their products are superior in quality and nutrition. I beg to differ. First of all, Kashi is owned by Kellogg's, which explains the giant marketing budget, I guess. Second, Kellogg's has been a long time customer of Monsanto's and defender of GMO crops. (Don't their commercials claim they are all about "going back to nature". I'll tell you what, GMO soy and canola..they didn't come from nature, Kashi, they came from a labratory.) Third and Finally, a company that spends millions of dollars to convince me their GMO-laden food is healthy and that I should therefore pay a premium for it, well that's not the kind of company or product I support. It's stuff like this that makes me sad because I know those jungle and safari-based commercials really paint a nice picture, and as a result people are picking up the Kashi frozen dinner or breakfast bar over another brand, when, really, they should just stay away from those aisles all together. Just take a look at the lengthy ingredients list for this popular granola bar:

Ingredients in Kashi Chewy Granola Bars in Dark Mocha Almond: Rolled Whole Grain Blend (Hard Red Wheat, Oats, Rye, Triticale, Barley), Brown Rice Syrup, Roasted Salted Whole Almonds, Soy Protein Isolate, Dark Chocolate (Cane Syrup, Chocolate Liquor, Cocoa Butter, Soy Lecithin, Vanilla), Soy Grits, Dried Cane Syrup, Chicory Root Fiber, Cane Syrup, Cocoa, Corn Flour, Honey, Rice Starch, Expeller Pressed Canola Oil, Natural Coffee Extract, Vegetable Glycerin, Natural Flavors, Oat Fiber, Nonfat Milk, Kashi Seven Whole Grains & Sesame Flour (Whole: Oats, Hard Red Wheat, Rye, Brown Rice, Triticale, Barley, Buckwheat, Sesame Seeds), Evaporated Salt, Soy Lecithin, Peanut Flour

I lost count, but that list is way too long for my standards. It's also full of hidden toxicity. We've got corn, canola and soy in various forms. Most troubling for me is the amount of soy in these bars. Soybeans are one of the top 3 GMO crops in the world and, like corn, have taken over the processed food market. Soy, especially GM Soy, has been linked to female infertility, hormone dysregulation, erectile dysfunction in men, total loss of libido. A completely "routine" study conducted by Russian scientists on the effects of GM soy found that by the third generation of soy-fed animals, they had lost all ability to have a baby. Another study, conducted by Dr. Lon White of the Hawaii Center for Health Research found that soy in the diet resulted in accelerated aging, both mentally and physically. Who wants that!? Avoid this stuff like the plague. Check out this post by Dr. Kaayla Daniel for more ways to avoid ingesting soy, including where it's hiding and what it is doing to your body. I also highly recommend reading Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma. While he touches more on the corn industry, he does an incredible job explaining how these crops (wheat, corn, soy, canola) have taken over our food system and how they are ending up in EVERYTHING. 

Throw these away. Now.

TOSTITOS Salsa Con Queso
Now, I don't think anyone actually believes this stuff is healthy, but I do see it in a lot of pantries and at a lot of picnics. I was a big fan of this stuff in college, though I hate to admit it. I get the appeal. Instantly warm creamy cheesy salsa-y dip for your chips, crackers and pretzels. I get it. But it needs to get lost. I know they've recently started using "real cheese" and everyone is using that to justify consuming it but you are much smarter than their marketing scheme. This stuff is deadly, deadly, deadly, guys. I would go so far as to say "Do not let your loved ones eat this"! The reason can be summed up by 3 little letters packing a toxic punch : M.S.G. 

Ingredients in Tostitos Salsa Con Queso: Water, Nonfat Milk, Monterey Jack Cheese (Cultured Milk, Salt, Enzymes), Corn Oil, Modified Food Starch, Diced Tomatoes in Tomato Juice, Jalapeno Peppers, Chili Peppers, Red Bell Peppers, Maltodextrin, Natural Flavors, Salt, Sodium Hexametaphosphate, Monosodium Glutamate, Sodium Citrate, Datem, Sodium Phosphate, Artificial Colors (Yellow 5, Yellow 6), Spice and Soy Lecithin.

Where do I even begin...I've highlighted some of the biggies. We've got corn, corn and more GMO corn...Corn Oil..Maltodextrin... We've covered the detriments of GMO corn in your diet above but I think you're starting to see how prevalent it is in our food system, aren't you? More concerning and threatening to your health though is the monosodium glutamate, or MSG. I'll give them some credit (I guess) for blatantly listing it as an ingredient. Many times it is hidden in a laundry list of ingredient names. (See my guide to MSG here.) Monosodium Glutemate (MSG) is a food and drink additive used to enhance flavor. It is a known excitotoxin, a type of neurotoxin that causes brain cells to be overly-excited, resulting in a brief sort of "high" but  ultimately causing the cells to die. It's what causes you to become "addicted" to or unable to stop eating certain foods and/or drinks. This is because it blocks off messages to the part of the brain that controls our appetite. MSG has been known to cause headaches, fluttering heartbeat, mood swings, gastrointestinal issues, weight gain, and more. (See a full list of symptoms here.) In fact,  MSG is so widely known for causing excess weight that scientists studying obesity, inject mice and other animals with MSG to MAKE them gain weight in order to study obesity's effects on a body. That should be a huge red flag right there! What's more is that continued exposure to excitotoxins like MSG can ultimately result in neurological damage, including but not limited to, depression, hyperactivity, numbness and anxiety, something I struggled with daily before eliminating MSG from my diet. 

As if Corn and MSG aren't enough, this stuff also has Artificial Colors, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6. First of all, this crap is added simply for aesthetic reasons, there is ZERO nutritional or flavor benefit. So, to make this deadly dip more visually appealing for the superficial consumer who thinks cheese should be bright orange, they've also made it more dangerous. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Yellow 5 and 6 (as well as Red 40) are known carcinogens, cause allergic reaction and induce hyperactivity in children. More specifically, these dyes directly cause skin rashes, migraines, rapid heart beat among other symptoms. For this very reason, and because the symptoms are so obviously caused by these artificial colors, countries like the UK, Norway and Australia have banned them all together. If you feel funny, get a headache or rash, or feel warm after eating foods containing these additives - there's your answer. I suggest avoiding artificial colors at all costs. As I've written about before, color occurs so beautifully and abundantly in nature, with hues rich in nutrients, there is no reason to ingest chemical color. No reason at all.

Throw this away. Now.

Have a Snack, Jack!

We've covered a lot of great info and now your pantry is a little roomier without those "food-like substances" hogging valuable shelf space. What do you say we enjoy a little snack now, Jack? (I tend to refer to people as Sparky, Jack, Charlie, Bubba...It's a thing, I don't know why I do it, just got with it.) I'm so happy you're here, sharing in this information, becoming more aware of the foods you're putting in your body, and creating a healthier life for yourself. A big theme around here is that you should never feel deprived. Instead, you should feel your food-spectrum widening to accommodate a bunch of new, whole, organic, local foods that will nourish your body and support you in your journey toward a happier, healthier life. So, since I just took away a bunch of your snacks, I want to share with you my 15 favorite go-to snacks! Enjoy!

1. Carrot Cake Super Cookie by GO RAW

My Personal Bag!
Only 5 Ingredients: Organic Coconut, Sprouted Organic Sesame Seeds, Organic Carrots, Organic Dates and Organic Nutmeg - THAT'S IT! Plus, 10 of these delicious little cookies are only 75 calories! I always, always, always have these around the house. GO RAW also makes Lemon, Masala Chai, Chocolate and Ginger Snap versions of the cookies and has a similar line of chips. You can find them at Whole Foods or online here.

2. Homemade Hummus

Lemon Kale Hummus
I've talked at length about hummus on here, not only because it is one of my favorite snacks, but also because it is totally customizable and incredibly nutritious. I've mentioned before the promise I made to myself: I said, "Self, I will never serve store-bought packaged hummus again." And neither should you! Store-bought hummus travels hundreds or thousands of miles in plastic (we all know the dangers of exposing our food to plastics) containers; more often than not it is jam-packed with non-organic ingredients and LOADS of salt and preservatives. Besides, it is just as easy and much more cost-effective to make it ourselves!  And making hummus at home allows you to use 100% organic ingredients and customize the end result to meet your exact taste-buds! You will ALWAYS find a far of at least one of my homemade hummus flavors in my kitchen. Paired with some fresh organic veggies, pretzels, or kale chips, this is a killer clean organic snack. I've shared my recipes for Red Beet Jalapeno Hummus (my favorite), Lemon Kale Hummus, and Black Bean Lime. Today I'll share my super simple Original Hummus Recipe:


  • 2 1/2 Cups Organic Garbanzo Beans, Strained and Rinsed
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Organic Tahini
  • 2 - 3 Tbsp Organic Lemon Juice (more if you prefer a tangy hummus)
  • 2 Tbsp Organic Coconut Oil (Or Olive Oil, if you prefer something more traditional, I just like something about the way Coconut Oil tastes in the recipe)
  • 1/4 Cup Water
  • Fresh Organic Parsley, Chopped (1/8 Cup)
  • 1 Tsp Organic Cumin
  • Dash of Organic Onion Powder
  • 1 Organic Garlic Clove, chopped (Raw or Roasted, your preference)
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Blend, Baby, Blend! Taste occasionally and adjust salt, pepper and cumin to your preference. Adjust thickness with additional oil of choice. Garnish with parsley and kalamata olive & serve! 

3. Crudités
There are always containers full of fresh local organic veggies in my fridge. My favorites are dark orange carrots, bright red bell peppers, deep green celery stalks and chopped organic cauliflower. I take a small container of them with my everywhere I go, especially to work. They are there when you just need a little crunch and pair well with my Almond-Coconut-Raisin dip and all of my Hummus recipes!

4. Almond Butter-Coconut-Raison Dip

Layers of Raisin, Coconut & Almond Butter
I LOVE having this as a snack. Raw Almond Butter + Unsweetened Coconut + Organic Seedless Raisins, served with Celery and Carrots for dipping. I almost always have some version of this "dip" with me. Some days I will swap out the coconut for some cacao powder or chop up some dates instead of the raisins. When I need a little salty crunch I even swap the carrots or the celery (not both, leave one of the veggies!) for some gluten free pretzels. With a sweet and savory snack like this, you never feel deprived - ever! 

5. Quinoa Mixer

Eating This While Writing This
Quinoa is .. awesome. It's been around in the human diet for thousands of years and it's a shame we lost our connection with it for a stretch there. I'm pretty determined to reinstate its importance though! For a grain, it is extremely high in protein and fiber, contains iron which is very important for women, lysine which is responsible for rebuilding our tissues, magnesium which is powerful in detoxifying our bodies and controlling blood sugar and Riboflavin which boosts metabolism. 

I do a lot of cooking with quinoa whether for breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack time! Usually, I make a medium sized pot of it and keep it around for use in other meals. A few night ago we had black beans and quinoa as a side. As I'm writing this, I'm enjoying some of that leftover sprouted quinoa with organic seedless raisins, organic walnuts, chopped organic apple and local maple syrup. Delicious!!! Here are a few of my favorite sweet or savory ways to incorporate quinoa into a snack:

My Favorite Quinoa

  • Quinoa + Chopped Walnut + Coconut + Raisins + Maple Syrup
  • Quinoa + Apples + Cinnamon 
  • Quinoa + Blue Berries + Coconut + Chopped Almonds
  • Quinoa + Banana + Almond Milk + Walnuts
  • Quinoa + Pepitas (pumpkin seeds) + Chopped Dates + Touch of Honey or Almond Milk
  • Quinoa + Black Beans + Sautéed Onions + Hot Sauce + S&P
  • Quinoa + Green Peas + Lime Juice + Crushed Red Pepper + S&P
  • Quinoa + Spoonful of my Bison Bolognese + S&P
  • Quinoa + Garbanzo beans + Lemon Juice + Parsley + S&P

6. Grapefruit & Kiwi
I love all fruits, but I'm on a grapefruit and kiwi kick right now. I avoided grapefruits all my life until just recently, when, for whatever reason, I developed a strong liking for them. No arguments here, they are low-glycemic, loaded with Vitamin C and lycopene and are considered one of the "world's healthiest foods". They are also on the Environmental Working Group's Clean 15 list, meaning it is relatively safe to consume conventionally grown versions. I still buy organic grapefruits, but if you're looking for ways to save a little at the store, the Clean 15 is a good starting point. Kiwis are another fruit on the Clean 15 list and pack another helping of Vitamin C, antioxidants and disease fighting, health promoting power! Kiwis are also full of fiber that keeps blood sugar from going haywire. 

7. Banana Nut Ice Cream

My Homemade Banana Nut Ice Cream
I recently wrote about this recipe that I whipped up for Jon one night as a consolation dessert after I kicked his butt at Mini Golf. However, being that the only ingredients are Banana, Almond Butter and Almond Milk - it also makes a great protein and fiber rich snack. Simply blend 1 frozen banana with a couple tablespoons of almond milk and half a tablespoon of almond butter and enjoy! 

8. Guacamole

I live for avocados. They're fantastic. I use them to make soups creamier, as a base in tuna and chicken salad, a salad topping, and who doesn't love some guacamole!? Jon loves "guac" and I often find myself whipping up a batch on a lazy Sunday, especially during football season. I sometimes bring a small container to work with me to snack on with carrots and red bell pepper! Here is my recipe: 
  • 2 Avocados
  • 2 Limes
  • 1/4 Sweet Onion
  • 1/2 - 1 Local Tomato (depending on size)
  • Cilantro, chopped finely
  • Salt, Pepper, Red Pepper Flake
  • Finely chop onion and tomato and place in medium mixing bowl. Add flesh of 2 avocados. Mash together. Add juice from 1 1/2 limes and cilantro. Add salt, pepper and just a dash of red pepper flake. Adjust to taste with extra lime juice and salt. I prefer mine chunky, but if you like a smooth guac, toss in blender and give it a couple pulses. 

9. Trail Mix
Trail Mix is great, especially when traveling. Keep a baggie in your car or purse so you always have something to turn to in a pinch or to hold you over until your next meal. I make all of my trail mix from scratch from containers or nuts, seeds, coconut, chocolate and dried fruits that I purchase from farmers markets or the bulk section at my Whole Foods. The following are ingredients I always have on hand. Mix & Match to tickle your tastebuds.
  • Pepitas
  • Walnuts
  • Cashews
  • Almonds
  • Hazelnuts
  • Unsweetened Coconut
  • Cacao Nibs or Dark Chocolate Chunks (at least 75% Cacao)
  • Dried Unsweetened Bananas
  • Dried Unsweetened Cherries
  • Chopped Madjool Dates
  • Seedless Raisins
  • Dried Apples (dried in oven)
  • Sunflower seeds
  • GO RAW Carrot Cake or Chocolate Cookies (broken into pieces, such a fun addition to trail mix)

10. Sweet Potato Fries
My SP Fries, Closest to Camera - YUM
This is a staple in our house. Whip up as a side and bring leftovers with you to work for a snack or whip up a small batch when you need a savory sinful-tasting treat. I always bake, never fry, my sweet potatoes and always use local organic varieties - I find they take the taste to a whole new level! Here is my recipe:

  • 1 Large or 2 Small Local Organic Sweet Potatoes
  • 1 Tbsp Coconut Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Paprika
  • Chili Powder
  • Scrub potatoes. Remove ends. Cut into rounds or long french-fry-like pieces. 
  • Heat Oven to 375
  • Put coconut oil in small oven safe dish, sit in oven for a minute just to soften/liquify (If you don't have a small oven save dish, heat in small sauce pan. Do not microwave.)
  • In large mixing bowl or brown paper bag, toss coconut oil, sweet potatoes, salt, pepper, paprika and chili powder. 
  • Lay on baking dish & bake for 20 minutes or until crispy!
  • Serve alone or with an organic HFCS-free ketchup (I like to stir a little chili pepper into my ketchup with these!)

11. Spicy Avocado Tuna Salad 
Perfect Size for a Snack!
Last night, I posted on our Facebook Page that Jon and I were enjoying a simply made, laid-back meal centered around Avocado Tuna Salad. After making Jon a heaping sandwich and putting some on my salad, I find there is always this little bit remaining in the bowl.. not enough to make a sandwich or a meal out of, but PERFECT for a snack. So, this afternoon my snack will be that very same avocado tuna salad, kicked up a notch with a tiny bit of cayenne pepper and red pepper flake and served with organic celery sticks and pretzels!

  • 1 Avocado
  • 1 BPA-Free Can Wild Tuna in Water
  • 1/4 C diced celery
  • 1/4 C diced red bell pepper
  • 1/4 C diced tomato
  • 1 Lime, juiced
  • A Few Cilantro Leaves
  • Salt & Pepper
  • For Snack: Add a Bit of Cayenne Pepper and Red Pepper Flake (Known to increase metabolism)
12. Mary's Gone Sticks & Twigs Sea Salt Pretzels

This is the only snack-food-esque bag you will find in my house and the only thing I mean when I say "pretzel" on my blog. These pretzels are 100% Organic, Non-GMO Project Certified, Gluten-Free, Kosher, Vegan and made in their owner and operated gluten-, nut- and dairy-free facility. The ingredients are whole grain brown rice, quinoa, flax seeds, sesame seeds, amaranth, millet and chia seed. It really doesn't get much better than that. They are perfectly salted and pack the perfect CRUNCH! They also make a mean assortment of crackers that I recommend as well, though I don't find myself eating them as often as the pretzels. You can pick these up at Whole Foods.

13. Raw Cheese and Fruit

Cheese used to have its own food group in my dietary pyramid. I mean I put it on everything. After much research  and listening to my body I've made two adjustments to its role in my diet. I eat it only as part of a small snack (and sparingly, if at all, in a recipe) and when I do, I only use pastured raw cheese. I get mine from a local farm and sometimes from Whole Foods.The whole raw dairy thing can be unnecessarily controversial in my opinion but as a result your state may not permit the sale or production of raw milks and cheese, you can check on that here:

I prefer knowing my food has been processed as little as humanly possibly, if at all, and has maintained it's essential nutrients. Otherwise, what's the point? I have also found that softer cheeses like a brie or soft goat or blue cheese are much easier to digest and therefore are what I choose to use in my snacks. As I said earlier, I use cheese as part of a snack. I like to pair a little wish fresh organic melon, local grass fed prosciutto, some Mary's Gone Crackers, raw honey, pears and figs. When it comes to dairy, its certainly not for everyone so I recommend listening to your own body on this one. If you find you have some adverse reactions to dairy, trying raw dairy has shown in some cases to resolve those issues, though for others it is best to remove it from their diet completely. Again, listen to your body.


A nutritional powerhouse and totally customizable- what more could you want in a snack? See my full post about Getting your GREENK on here. Try differently combinations depending on what your body needs - some offer a nice rush or bright green nutrients, other also pack in protein and fat.

15. Veggie Chips

I wrote this post awhile ago and it remains a favorite almond my followers.  Veggies chips are a nutritious way to snack without ever longing for Lays or Doritos again. You can find my recipes for a number of varieties here. My favorites are Old Bay Kale and Salt & Vinegar Sweet Potato!

BONUS: Freshly Popped Organic Popcorn

I keep organic kernels on my counter at all times! Popcorn is a fantastic and filling treat. In my opinion, it takes a million times better when made at home on your stove-top. Take a bag with you to the movies to save your self from toxic chemicals and crazy prices! I recommend trying out different flavors too! Refer to my veggie chip recipes for ideas on how to season your snack!

Here is a good video on how to make popcorn on your stove top:

Snack On!

I hope you've taken away some great snack ideas after reading this post and have thrown out the bad guys we talked about up top. I'd love to hear what kind of success or trouble you may be having adopting these into your new lifestyle. I'd also love to hear from you about what snacks you use to stay on track! Do we have any in common? 

Let me know in the comments section below or over on my Facebook Page!

Keep it Real,


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