A popular trend in snack food is the 100-calorie “snack pack.” Major manufacturers of processed food market these tiny bags as a “healthier” way to indulge in the full-sized versions of their chemical-laden, preservative-filled counterparts. While the recipes are often tweaked slightly, they’re still in no way healthier. Take a peek at the ingredient lists on some of these items, and you’ll find “high fructose corn syrup,” “partially hydrogenated soybean oil”, “artificial coloring,” and “artificial flavor,” just to name a few. Not the best fuel for our precious bodies.
Despite the promise that little calories = little weight gain and good health, it’s safe to say that total nutrient consumption is a much better indicator of health than a calorie count. While the number of calories in a food can be helpful in determining its density and how much work it takes for the body to break it down, we also know that not all calories are created equal. If that were the case, 500 calories of soda and French fries would have the same impact on the body as 500 calories of spinach and quinoa. As Mark Bittman states in VB6: Vegan Before 6:00, “Hyper processed junk foods appear to be “fattening.” Their calories have a greater negative impact than the calories of real, unprocessed foods.”
When your body is receiving the nutrients it needs from whole foods, the brain will signal that you’re full, and hunger goes away. Consuming processed foods with “empty” calories devoid of nutrients may lead you to reach for even more of the bad stuff. A 2008 study published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that smaller packages of snack foods encouraged people to eat almost twice as much as those who consumed from larger packages. It’s likely that one tiny portion of processed crackers isn’t enough, and you’ll be grabbing a second baggie in no time.
100-Calorie Snack Pack vs. OA Chocolate Mousse
It’s 3pm and you need a snack to get through the rest of the workday. You have 2 choices: A 100-calorie pack of processed cookies, or a 380-calorie Organic Avenue Chocolate Mousse. Although the Chocolate Mousse has more calories, its main ingredient is avocado, a water-containing fruit from which the body understands how to break down and extract nutrients. The lower-calorie cookies, on the other hand, are composed of an ingredient list that includes nutrient-devoid additives and preservatives foreign to the body. This foreign matter is then stored in the cells and tissues and may actually contribute to weight gain in the long term. Ingredient list always trumps calorie count when comparing food items.
Eating a balanced diet with a high percentage of plant-based foods, namely fruits and vegetables, sets you on a path to health and longevity. Focus on the quality of the nutrients you are consuming, rather than a single calculation.
Healthy Plant-Based Snack Alternatives
Here are some of our favorite deliciously simple, nutrient-rich snacks:
▪ Avocado with a sprinkle of Himalayan pink salt—envelop in a Nori sheet for a wrap on the go!
▪ Sliced banana dusted with cinnamon
▪ Strawberries and blueberries topped with shredded coconut
▪ Chia seeds soaked in Coconut Mylk—instant “tapioca” pudding!
▪ OA Veggies & Hummus—crunchy crudités paired with a raw, zucchini-based dip
▪ Celery and carrot sticks with a spread of creamy almond butter
▪ Sliced cucumber, tomato and red bell pepper with a squeeze of lemon or lime—low- sugar “fruit salad”
▪ OA Coconut Yogurt—experiment by adding your own fresh or dried fruit and raw nuts
▪ Handful of savory Kalamata or Castelvetrano olives
▪ Peeled and sliced raw sweet potato—yes you can eat sweet potatoes raw!
▪ Handful of almonds, cashews or walnuts—clean protein for sustainable energy
▪ 1-2oz of high-quality dark chocolate—we’re partial to our OA Almond Chunky and Sea Salt bars, handmade in Brooklyn by Fine & Raw