Eating small snacks throughout the day helps you avoid dips in energy to keep you productive and alert at work. Choosing the right type of snacks can also help you maintain a healthy body weight, which is important for cancer and chronic disease prevention.
Foods that contain protein, fiber and heart-healthy fats slow the digestion process and lead to a longer feeling of satisfaction compared to processed, sugary snacks. A great snack option that includes all of these nutrients are nuts. Research has shown that eating nuts at least 4 times a week can reduce your risk of cancer. Nuts contain a variety of cancer-protective nutrients and phytochemicals, and are a good source of heart healthy omega 3 fatty acids.
This weekend I spruced up my usual snack of plain nuts by making homemade spiced pecans with a touch of sweetness and heat. Most candied nuts you buy in the grocery store are laden with sugar and excess fat, and expensive. Instead, I prefer to make my own – it’s surprisingly easy and with a few tweaks you can make a tasty, nutritious option at home.
This recipe only takes about 20 minutes and includes just 6 simple ingredients! Here’s the full recipe: Maple Cayenne Pecans.
To prepare, mix the pecans with all the ingredients except the coconut oil in a medium bowl so they are evenly coated.
Lightly grease your baking sheet with coconut (or other) oil. The oil prevents the nuts from sticking, and coconut adds a nice, mild nutty flavor. The sweetness from the maple syrup contrasts well with the spicy kick from the cayenne pepper. I chose Himalayan sea salt as the crystals are sustainable and purer than table salt, but regular salt would be fine here as well.
Make sure to stir the nuts every 5 minutes to prevent them from burning or sticking to the pan. Once you remove the pecans from the oven, quickly transfer them to a plate. They will crisp up as they cool.
Although nuts are highly nutritious, they are also high in calories so portion control is important. Pre-portion these nuts out into 1 ounce (1/4 cup) servings ahead of time so you can quickly grab a small tin or zip-log bag on your way out of the door.
What’s your favorite quick-and-easy office snack?
Sonja Goedkoop, MSPH, RD, is a registered dietitian at Zesty, Inc. She is passionate about helping others improve their health through diet and physical activity and believes eating nutritious food should be easy and taste great. You can follow her on twitter @SonjaGoedkoopRD.