(Family Features) The clock strikes 11 a.m. and the breakfast you had a few hours earlier isn't keeping your stomach from growling, yet it's too early for lunch. A snack, perhaps? Great idea, but it's the unplanned mid-morning and mid-afternoon meals that often steer people off the healthy track and smack into a bag of caloric trouble.
Cynthia Sass, registered dietitian and author of New York Times bestselling book "Cinch! Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches," is an advocate of snacking your way to a pair of skinny jeans. All it takes is a little smarts when it comes to choosing snacks and for Sass, her favorite is a handful of almonds.
"I encourage snacking. It helps one stay slim and healthy," Sass says. "The right snack keeps metabolism revved up and energy levels high while preventing mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacking. This is why I always encourage a handful of almonds as the ideal snack to turn to when you have the snacking urge."
If there is time to prepare a more complex snack, Sass recommends the following easy ideas to satisfy mid-morning or afternoon hunger:
- Layer a parfait in a special clear glass dish. Choose vibrant colors and textures, like crisp sliced almonds. Arrange even simple snacks in artful ways, and garnish with fresh mint or edible flowers.
- Make a few squares of 70 percent cocoa or darker your second snack of the day, or whip up my signature dark chocolate truffles, made with almond butter.
- Slather two tablespoons of almond butter on a slice of whole grain toast topped with a sliced peach and a dash of cinnamon.
- Combine frozen, pitted, unsweetened cherries, a small scoop of rolled oats, almond milk, almond butter and a pinch of cardamom.
When Sass is on-the-go, she fills her Almond Board of California tin with whole natural almonds and tucks it in her purse for a tasty and portable snacking fix.
"It's the perfect snack of 23 almonds," says Sass. "It can help avoid energy crashes and gets me through the work day without indulging in not-so-good foods."
To learn more about Sass's book and get additional delicious snacking tips and ideas, go to www.almondboard.com/Consumer/Pages/CynthiaSass.aspx.