It’s a very rare person that doesn’t need an afternoon snack. Even so, very few individuals actually allow themselves the time to do so, often worrying about eating too many calories if they snack in between meals. However, getting overly hungry for dinner is likely the bigger problem. Staying well-fed throughout the day allows you to stay level headed about food choices, balance hunger and appetite, and normalize hormone levels – all of which increase health and well-being over time.
The key then is to snack on foods that will keep you full, satisfied and energized. That often means planning ahead and being prepared. I love the idea of, and recommend it often, baking a batch of some sort of healthy cookie or bar that will be both physiologically and psychologically satisfying. It’s very likely that you crave carbohydrates in the afternoon, for good reason. Carbohydrates are what make neurotransmitters and boost serotonin in particular, which is our “feel good” brain chemical. Having adequate carbohydrates throughout the day that are rich in fiber and nutrition leads to better mental function and helps to regulate mood, making you better able to handle stress.
I’ll help you out with a make-ahead, inexpensive, easily packed snack bar below. It’s not overly sweet, has a great chewy texture and a nutty flavor with chocolate chips throughout. I hope you enjoy!
Whole Grain Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp chia seeds
1/2 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
3 ripe bananas
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup natural peanut butter (or other favorite nut butter)
3/4 cup milk or milk alternative (almond milk, rice milk, soy milk, coconut milk, etc)
Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine flour, oats, baking powder, salt, chia seeds and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl and mix to combine. In a separate bowl, mash bananas (or blend in blender and then add) with vanilla, peanut butter and milk. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix well. Batter will be thick and somewhat sticky. Line 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil and press batter into it evenly. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool and cut into 10 bars. Enjoy!
Emily Fonnesbeck RD, CD