In early times – as in really early, like Prehistoric (before plastic bags or instant anything) – if people got hungry going about their daily drill, they could usually find something chemical or additive free to munch along the way, like berries, shoots or roots. Of course, there was the occasional poison mushroom, but in general, a quick pick-me-up was not so hard to find.
Today, life is much more complicated. We have Seven-Elevens and super duper superstores, but these institutions, I’ve observed, contain mostly items with very long shelf lives but very little actual life. Where is that simple, healthful (preferably organic) snack when you need it? (Of course, if you’re on the road and famished, it’s better to eat something than nothing, but how much better it would be to have a truly life supporting choice at your fingertips.)
The simple solution: bring your own (B.Y.O.)! A good 21st century healthy snack should be easy to prepare, portable (that is, light, non-spoilable and unmeltable, if unrefrigerated for several hours), non-messy to consume, and, of course, nutritious and delicious. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Fresh fruits: apples, pears, plums, grapes – whatever’s in season. Fruits like melon, pineapple, mango, kiwi, etc., can be cut up and put in small plastic containers. Squeeze a little lemon juice on slices of apple or pear to prevent browning. Keep plastic spoons and forks on hand. Bananas, conveniently, come in their own packaging!
- Raw, shelled, unsalted nuts and seeds, like almonds, walnuts, cashews, macadamia, pecan, pistachio, pumpkin seeds, pinola, fresh coconut. Just a few pack a powerful punch. Almond is known as the “king of the nuts” – highest in alkalinity, helps clean the arteries, high in fiber – but all the nuts and seeds are chock full of great nutrients. (Chew well – very calming.)
- In so-called Blue Zones around the globe (places with the highest concentration of centenarians), one of the food habits all have in common is raw nuts, consumed daily.
- Raw veggies & cheese. Personal favorite: carrot rounds with bits of raw cow or coat cheese. Also nice with cheese: mushroom caps, celery, cabbage, daikon radish, fennel, etc. Variation: substitute avocado slices for cheese.
- Leftover salad or cooked veggies: make a little extra for dinner and keep in fridge in a small plastic container ready to go the next day.
- Mini-sandwiches. Cut small squares (about 2″ x 2″) of whole grain sourdough bread or essene (sprouted) bread. Spread almond or walnut butter on slices, then place lettuce or arugula leaves, raw sauerkraut or whatever on one side. Press two sides together and store in ziplock bag or wrap in aluminum foil. Keep in the fridge to take with you.
- Fruit yogurt: fresh fruit pieces in whole, plain yogurt. Variation: In a blender, purée yogurt with fruit, like banana, peach, berries, cherries, plus dash nutmeg and put in plastic container.
- Sesame/carob nuggets: When you have a little spare time, blend or process in a food processor: 1/2 – 1 cup or so sesame seeds until smooth. Remove to a bowl and blend in well a teaspoon or so carob or cacao powder (to taste), then mix in a few dashes of raw honey. Add just enough distilled water to make a “dough” moldable into edible balls. Store in small plastic containers in refridge (good for a week or more) – ready to grab on your way out the door.
- Sesame seeds (especially unhulled) are exceptionally rich in iron, magnesium, manganese, copper, and calcium. They are also a great lubricant for the digestive tract. Women of ancient Babylon mixed raw honey and sesame seeds to prolong youth and beauty, while Roman soldiers ate the mixture for strength and energy.
- Cashew milk. Place 1/4 cup raw cashews in the blender with 2 cups water. Liquefy. Then add a few slices banana, heaping tablespoon almond butter, dashes of allspice and nutmeg. Blend until smooth. Pour in a small thermos or plastic container for a truly nutritious drink on the fly. Variation: add a teaspoon of carob or cacao powder for an extra flavorful mineral kick. Any nut or seed can be substituted. However, soak harder nuts like almonds, walnuts, brazil,, etc., in water for a few hours or overnight before blending.
- Crystalized ginger. Organic crystallized ginger (with raw cane sugar) is available these days in most health food stores.
Ginger, in any form, is a fabulous old remedy – aids digestion, colds and sore throat, flatulence, nausea., freshens breath on the run (forget the Tums or Tic Tacs!). Also, just a great treat to share with friends or if you need a quick pick-me-up. (While it’s tempting to pig out on this sweet, pungent snack, a few pieces here and there are probably enough!)
And last, but not least:
Pure water (ideally distilled) in one of those new adorable little stainless steel (no BPAs in non-biodegradable plastic bottles) thermoses because sometimes there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a drink of water!