Last week, I mentioned a few of my favorite quickie-meal staples for portable or on-the-go eating (and I will be updating it soon with some of the things I forgot!). And one of my first posts was a discussion of eating when you have to be at work but have a long run the next day. Today will be a little of this, a little of that. I am going to split this post up into 2 parts: Standard and #strangebutgood. On Friday I will also discuss how I put all of this eating together to get me through long shifts.
First, a major thanks to Jenn and her peas for the Sharing Partay! Now, let’s talk healthy work snacks.
We all know what it is like to be in a marathon. Whether that be a running (26.2 mi) run, or an all-day study sesh, a freakin’ long road trip in the middle of nowhere, parties with no refreshments (idiots), or, as is the case for me now, 8-10 hrs of work, often with select and very limited time for breaks, and no chance of a proper meal. When you are in a fast-paced customer-service environment like the one in which I work, you have to look after yourself and stay fueled and hydrated. Hangriness only leads to bad tips and major mistakes. And misery. But how do you keep on, keepin-on when you can’t eat while you work? You get creative.
Adequate nutrition is not just a “thumbs up, you did good for once” aspect of my life. For my body, proper fueling is an absolute necessity. My body does not absorb nutrients consistently, or sometimes even at all, and certain factors impact my mood and physical well being far more than others and in positive/negative ways. To boot, my body (and mind) does NOT handle hunger well–physically, I will start to feel ill, mentally, I become a huge beeyatch, get distracted even more easily, and basically am a pestilence on humanity. Add in a hectic, multitasking-based work environment, and hunger=disaster.
So how do I cope? Snacks. SnackssnacksnacksnacksnacksEVERYBOOODAAY (to the tune of “Shots,” dur) As I always say, I come packing heat. Not firearms, though. That is illegal. And dangerous.
Susie’s Top 5 Favorite Keeps You Full/Focused Snacking Go-tos for the Working Girl.
1) Greek Yogurt/Cottage Cheese
We all love it. I used to save this for during shift, but now I have it as part of my preshift meal because I have more time to savor it, I can eat it over time as I am folding napkins, etc without risking smudges or being unsanitary, and it gets solid protein and a little bit of sugar in me for both a boost and staying power.
My go-to’s are Dannon Light and Fit Greek and any 0% Plain Greek. I don’t buy the fruit flavors of Fage/Chobani etc because that is more than just a little bit of sugar, and I would rather put a dash of sweetener with lemon/lime juice in (instant lemon chiffon) and get the added protein of the plain and save my time for more nutrient-packed options.If I am packing up my snacks at home, I like to add cocoa powder and sweetener/stevia (especially the coconut flavor or the dark chocolate!) into no-salt-added cottage cheese, with however much almond milk and some cereal and (if I have it) freeze-dried fruit. Stir it up, let it sit (especially if you are using a puffed cereal, like Special K, it will gain body) as you get to work, put it back in the fridge for a bit, and enjoy!
2) String Cheese
Protein, a little fat, a little interaction, a little break. Not a huge snack, but when you feel yourself starting to drag, a great, great option. One of the only types of cheese that I eat. Also, pretty much any convenience store will have it, unlike fancier things.
3) A medium-small apple.
Sugar boost, vitamins, taste, carbs, you know. But I don’t go with the hughjass ones because a) so much sugar b) too much c) takes way too long to eat (we are talking seconds to minutes of available eating time here, people).
4) Pretzels, oyster crackers, saltines
I am not a big 100 calorie pack believer, but with pretzels, hells yeah. The density is filling, the salt is important when you are on the go and movingmovingmoving, and you can discretely place the bag in your apron pocket and pop a few when you can. And the oyster crackers and saltines are easy on your stomach (crucial when you have to test a bajillion drinks and random foods) and surprisingly very satisfying.
Again, the 100 calorie packs here are essential. I love the Emerald Cocoa Roast packs. Those I will pop 1-2 in and literally suck on them as I am doing busy work and then chew after they have softened a little bit. Much more discrete.
And here are a few other go-tos if you have a little bit more time and/or the ability to clean up after:
1) High-protein, lower-sugar nutrition bars. My top 5 go-tos are:
*Kind Nuts and Spices (low sugar, decent protein, good fiber, good fats)
*NuGo Slim bars (5-10 g fiber (enough but not too much), very low sugar, very high protein)
*Ricklands Orchard Dark Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter bar (low sugar, 10g protein, delicious, all natural)
*Balance Bare Blueberry Acai (more sugar than the others but soo filling and delicious, high protein, all natural, the usual)
*Think Thin Crunch (the ultimate granola bars–low sugar, good protein and fats, delicious)
These are more of a mini-meal-stand in but definitely help when I get behind in my eating, I’m really hungry, or the night is going to be a looong one. I obviously keep an eye on my sugar intake (this is in large part to the fact that I have ice cream every night (mucho sugar), too much sugar makes me insufferable (crazy and crampy), and it’s just a good idea) but I do NOT like to overload on sugar alcohols (so present in many protein bars like Detour, Pure Protein (though I used to love those)) or 17 grams of fiber (Quest bars scar the *&^% out of me).
2) Hard boiled eggs/deli meat
We have a baby fridge in the back service area that we use for milk and wine chillers, so we the servers are able to keep smaller things cold. I don’t usually prep my own hard-boiled eggs, but when they are included in comida, I will grab a small to-go container and load up (on the whites, I hate hard-boiled egg yolks). Deli meat/precut protein like grilled chicken is another great idea, and one I have used time and again. Look for the lower sodium! **Bonus points that convenience stores also usually have these!
While I’m getting carbs and protein in from the eggs, yogurt, and fruit, healthy fats are also critical to staying satisfied and healthy. Plus, the texture is easy to work through and doesn’t get stuck in your teeth!
I am including this in the “more time more messy” section because of the increased volume/amount needed for the same nutritional stats as, say, a bag of pretzels. But if you have the time, and need some good hand-to-mouth action, popcorn is a great snack. Fiber, carbs, salty, sweet (I am a kettlecorn fiend). You can pop your own (just put the kernels in a plastic tupperwear, brown sandwich bag, or other microwave-safe, seal-able container with sufficient room, and pop in the microwave. You’ll need to play around with the timing and your microwave (also depends on the amount of popcorn, obviously). I am a fan of finishing it with spray butter and salt, maybe some cinnamon and/or cayenne, and done!
5) Dry Cereal
Very similar explanation to popcorn–small pieces require more time to consume. Cereal offers you various options: frivolous (like a fruity, fluff-filled option), to quite substantial (Kashi Go Lean Fiber Twigs and Protein). The Kashi Go Lean Twigs, Special K Original or Protein, and Multigrain Cheerios are my go-tos while at work. I prefer to go a bit blander so that I don’t get too many flavors working. One time I even had a to-go bowl of Special K with a cashew butter packet for pre-shift meal (I was on a double, and comida was a no-go for me that day). Hey it worked.
So, these are all no-brainers, right? Well, I have few rifts on some oldies-but-goodies that get me through the night, #strangebutgood style. Look for these on Friday, when I link up with Laura, Clare, and Heather. And Kierston, I hope to have a new recipe for you soon!