Crunching Cravings

Thanks to Elise of Kale & Chocolate, for sharing her chewy story on One Healthy Hamptons!

Recently, one of my awesome clients came to me with a situation:

She nourishes her body regularly with vibrant, nutrient-dense meals. Fitness is a fun part of her daily regime. When it comes to her health, she feels better than ever.

Except…

photo(194)Every night, during family time, her husband heads into the kitchen to pop a huge bowl of movie theater popcorn. You know—that caloric bomb swimming in salt and mysterious bright yellow butter.

And, every night, that bowl of popcorn would seep into her senses. And before she could stop herself, her hand was digging in—over and over.

I knew this smart, savvy, health-conscious woman wasn’t actually craving that kind of popcorn. She usually makes the right choices, and truly prefers whole foods over processed & fat-laden options.

So, what was she really craving?

Together, we dug deep and went through a roadmap to discover her cravings, peeling back the layers and looking for any emotional triggers, too. We still couldn’t crack the crunchy code.

She filled up on nutritionally balanced smoothies for breakfast. Lunch was usually a big vibrant bowl of veggie or lentil soup, and she was enjoying dinners that included some combination of fish (or other protein), sweet potatoes and sautéed leafy greens.

She told me that when the popcorn appeared each night, she wasn’t hungry. She felt satiated, and noticed that her energy levels were sky high. So, what was ultimately the problem?

She was missing the CRUNCH. While her meals were nutritious & delicious, her smoothies, soups and softer foods weren’t cutting it with her urge to crunch.

Craving the crunch is quite common. When we’re stressed from a long day, we subconsciously clench our jaw. Chewing a crunchy food in your mouth releases this tension. And when you don’t satisfy your need for crunch in your meals, then you’re much more likely to turn to the less healthy options in between. (Hello chocolate chip cookies!)

When we think of balancing our meals to prevent cravings, the “protein-fat-carbs” macronutrient trifecta is at the top of our minds. (And it should be for steady blood sugar levels.) But, we don’t often consider the importance of balancing texture to keep us satisfied & satiated.

In the spirit of recognizing our craving for crunch (minus the calorie-laden, nutrient-deficient chips, popcorn & pretzels), here are my favorite ways for you to munch & savor crunch as part of your meal or for a mid-day snack.

Crunchy Meal Toppers:

For a creamy smoothie or an extra thick smoothie bowl, top it off with nuts, trail mix, homemade granola, seeds, cacao nibs, coconut chips or chopped up apples, pears, or frozen fruit. (If you haven’t checked out Breakfast Criminals yet, you should! I’ve been totally inspired to step up my breakfast game with some pretty creative smoothies & toppings.)

For a satiating meal of oats or quinoa, put walnuts, almonds or any combo of nuts and fruit to add more texture.

For beautiful salads in a bowl or mason jar, think about including the crisp vegetables like carrots, red pepper, cucumber, cabbage, celery, jicama, and broccoli. Then, sprinkle some kale chips, nuts, seeds or roasted garbanzo beans as a finishing touch.

For that piping hot bowl of soup that will warm you up from this inside out, pair it with flax crackers or a side of carrots & cucumbers.

crunchy-wideCrunchy Standbys:

Kale Chips (or sweet & spicy here)
Pumpkin or sunflower seeds
Nuts—almonds, walnuts, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, cashews, pistachios
Trail Mix
Roasted Chickpeas
Raw veggies
Apples, pears
Frozen grapes
Homemade Granola
Cacao nibs
Chocolate (Keep it in the freezer for that extra snap when breaking off a square.)

Just in case you’re curious, my client now happily enjoys a crisp apple and a handful of almonds while her husband still eats his popcorn. She feels amazing and completely satisfied.

One Healthy Breakdown: A little crunch goes a long way.

*Elise Museles is an attorney turned Certified Eating Psychology & Nutrition Expert. She helps women stuck in a motivation-to-frustration cycle adopt a more joyful & positive approach to nourishment that starts with the food on the plate, but ultimately extends to all areas of life. Enter a delicious world full of freedom, ease, and fun at Kale & Chocolate. For daily inspiration, join Elise on Facebook and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @kaleandchocolate.

Blueberry Me!

Blueberries are always good, but now is their time to shine! July is National Blueberry Month and blueberries are more available, affordable, fresh, and tasty than ever…go get some for yourself!

photo 3Read ALL about blueberries, their health benefits, and recipe suggestions too. One of my favorite ways to eat blueberries is in a nice cold, healthy smoothie like this one:

Blue Delicious Smoothie:

photo 5

  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1 handful spinach or romaine
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 4 fresh mint leaves
  • 20 almonds or walnuts
  • 1/3 cup almond milk
  • 1/3 cup ice cubes
  • 1/3 cup water

One Healthy Breakdown: the perfect way to enjoy those berries on a summer morning!

AB + J Superfood Smoothie

I have BIG news for you. Brace yourself, you may want to sit for this one…it’s pretty life-changing. Guess who is the proud owner of a brand new Vitamix? Yup, this girl. It’s pretty freaking exciting. The first item on my wedding registry now lives in its permanent parking spot on my kitchen counter, prime real estate indeed. More days than not, I make a green smoothie for breakfast and this Ferrari-of-all-blenders instantly blends anything in seconds. Here’s a new favorite of mine. (No, you do not need a Vitamix to make this smoothie, any blender should do!)

photo(178)

Almond Butter + Jelly Superfood Smoothie:

  • 1/4 cup organic strawberries, blueberries, or berries of choice (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1 handful spinach, romaine, or kale
  • 3 spoonfuls almond butter
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • ice if desired

One Healthy Breakdown: classic flavors that never get old…only healthier!

Banana Chocolate Chip Yum Muffins

photo 3Bananas getting a little too ripe on the counter? These bad boys are the perfect solution and make the yummiest breakfast or snack any day! Recipe makes about a dozen muffins.

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 2 eggs (or flax egg for vegan alternative)
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon honey or pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup carob or dark chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup chopped nuts (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon raw oats to top (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix all ingredients in a food processor or blender.

2. Spray muffin pans (I use organic coconut oil spray or cupcake liners) and pour batter, top with oats or toppings of choice (coconut and peanut butter are fab too!) Bake for 15-20 minutes and voilà!

photo 1One Healthy Breakdown: Healthy? Check. Breakfast? Check. Snack? Check. Dessert? Delicious!