Those who nibble on snacks in the mid-afternoon tend to pick healthier bites, according to a study from the University of Illinois at Chicago that was published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. The researchers found that afternoon snackers ate more fiber, fruit, and veggies; while also losing more weight. Snacking helps you lose weight because, by eating a planned nosh between meals, you are less likely to overeat at mealtime. Having a snack between meals prevents you from becoming so hungry that you reach for unhealthy junk food. A healthy snack keeps hunger at bay and allows you to stick to a moderate amount of food when you do eat your next meal. It offers the opportunity to fuel your body between meals.
The key, however, is not to overdo your snack or make wrong choices. Choose a snack with about 100 calories and a mix of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats. A healthy snack made up of complex carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats increases your energy levels for a longer period of time, than sugary snacks will. This is because sugar will cause your blood sugar to spike and then crash, leaving you hungry and lethargic. Complex carbohydrates are a stable source of energy, and including them in a healthy snack helps you power through your tasks between meals. Aim to eat your snack about halfway between meals to keep energy levels consistent, and a general guideline is to limit snacks to two a day and figure in the caloric cost of your snacks with your overall daily caloric needs.
Sweet potato quinoa cakes
Olive oil cooking spray
8 cups water
2 cups (12 ounces) quinoa, rinsed
1/2 pounds kale, large stems removed and leaves finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
1/2 cup (2 ounces) finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons fresh chives, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons Sriracha chili sauce
1. Preheat oven to 400°F and grease a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray; set aside.
2. In a medium pot, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add quinoa and reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until water is absorbed, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside, covered, for 10 minutes.
3. In a large pot, bring another 4 cups of water to a boil. Add kale and salt; cook for 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, scoop kale into a large bowl and leave the cooking water in the pot. When kale is cool enough to handle, squeeze out excess water and set aside.
4. Bring the water back to a boil and add sweet potatoes. Simmer until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Strain the sweet potatoes and transfer to the bowl with kale. Add quinoa to the bowl and lightly mash to combine.
5. Gently mix in onion, Parmesan, chives and cayenne. Let cool for 10 minutes then mix in the eggs.
6. Place a 3-inch round cookie cutter on the baking sheet and scoop quinoa mixture into it; press firmly to level the top. The patty should be 1-inch thick. Slide the cookie cutter off and repeat to form 18 patties total.
7. Bake until lightly browned and crisp, flipping halfway through, about 20 minutes.
8. Combine ketchup and Sriracha in a small bowl and serve with quinoa cakes.