It is Sunday morning. Hopefully you will wake up well-rested, stretch out your arms, and open your eyes to a sunny day. Maybe you will have a warm cup of coffee, some eggs with toast, or maybe you will even get really lucky and have some homemade pancakes. After that you might relax with the Sunday paper, catch up on the news, or watch some cartoons with your kids. Of course, you will do all that while still in your comfy pajamas. On Sunday morning, you can rest easy because the next work week is still a distant 24 hours away.
As the day wears on, you might run some errands, meet a friend for lunch, or do some laundry. But by Sunday evening, you will have the unfortunate revelation that Monday morning and that-thing-that-shall-not-be-named (ie. work) is right around the corner. You will start gearing up for the week, thinking about what you need to accomplish, what you will wear for work, and hopefully you will think about what you will eat for lunch during the week.
Maybe you have a catered meeting on Tuesday, and lunch with a co-worker at that new burger joint on Friday. The other days you will probably bring your lunch, and I would wager a guess you will eat sandwiches, leftovers from the night before, or healthy portable foods like fruits, yogurt, or hummus. Some days if you are extremely busy, you might not even have time to eat lunch at all! Am I describing your week about right?
I wouldn't call myself a fortune teller, but I can also reasonably predict that by the time 3 or 4 o'clock comes around, you will be looking at your watch - your eyes will bulge with astonishment as you realize there are still several hours to go and lots of work to be done before you can eat dinner, and you are hungry. Your energy from lunch is gone (if you had time to eat anything at all) and you are seriously contemplating a vending machine run. It is a situation of serious food desperation, and we have all been there.
At the root of this problem lies the simple facts that:
A.) You are hungry.
B.) You have failed to anticipate you would be hungry.
C.) As a direct consequence of B., you have no food on hand.
You could also make the excuse that:
D.) You anticipated the hunger strike, but had no time to rustle up some grub.
Ok fair enough. But since this problem occurs on a daily basis for most people (and amnesia is not currently an epidemic), fact B. is clearly ridiculous. If you are honest with yourself, I am sure you can agree that you know you will be hungry. So really, the reason we suffer through these late-afternoon snack monster attacks is that we don't take the time to prepare.
I know we all have busy lives full of very important things to do, but let me tell you how you can feed the snack monster with something healthy and delicious that will give you the energy you need to finish the day strong. You can make it in 5 minutes over the weekend, and these snacks should last you for 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Now that sounds like quite the payoff doesn't it?
By simply combining peanut butter, whole grains and seeds, dried fruit, and a bit of honey, you have a no-cook snack that is made with ingredients to specifically give you energy. These bites are especially packed with protein from the nuts and seeds, but also have healthy oils, more natural sugars, and obviously no preservatives or strange binders/additives. They are just sweet enough to feel like an indulgence, but not enough to spoil your dinner or turn away savory/salty snack fans. Since they are extremely easy to make - just mix the ingredients together and press and roll them into balls - you can actually make this a fun family activity for the weekend and include them in kid's lunches too. Wasn't snack time invented in kindergarten?
But let me tell you what I like the most about these snacks - for several reasons, you will only want to eat one at a time. Since they are kept cool, you will need to go all the way to the refrigerator to get one, making it less likely you will go back for seconds (as compared to eating chips/cookies/candy that can be kept in an desk drawer). Also, they are about 2 inches in diameter, which makes them big enough to satisfy but still small enough to be just a snack. And lastly, the peanut butter makes them slower to eat and chew, so it would be almost impossible to rapidly eat them in multiples (though I won't stop you from trying).
So this weekend, before the work week starts, be good to yourself and your tummy and get prepared to deal with late afternoon cravings or energy crashes. You will be able to finish your day with more focus, more productivity, and less stomach growling. All good things in my book.
One year ago: Avocado and Red Grapefruit Salad
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Peanut Butter and Oat Energy Bites
Adapted from Kylie, at A Hungry Spoon
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup unsalted, roasted sunflower seeds
1/2 cup (or more) dried cranberries, roughly chopped*
2 tbsp ground flaxseed
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl, making sure to evenly distribute all the ingredients. Take some of the dough and press it together between your hands - if it sticks together well, it is ready to go, if it feels too dry then add a bit more peanut butter or honey. Likewise, if it is too 'wet,' add some extra oats or flax.
To form the dough into a small bite, use a spoon or a cookie scoop to portion out the dough, squeeze it between your hands, and then gently roll it into a ball. This amount of dough makes 12 bites that are about 2 inches in diameter. Store the bites in an airtight container, and keep them refrigerated until eating. Bites will keep for 1-2 weeks refrigerated.
*Feel free to substitute other dried fruits if you like such as apricots, mango, or apples, or you could take this a totally different route and swap in carob or chocolate pieces.