In the Kitchen with Keri: 3 Fast, Creative Homemade Protein Snacks

protein snacksWe share heaps of healthy information on Nutritious Life’s blog every day, but “In the Kitchen with Keri” is your chance to spend some quality time with the wonder woman behind it all, Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN. It’s where she invites you into her space to share the ingredients she’s currently obsessed with, recipes she can’t get enough of, and other tips and tricks learned over many years of life as an always-ahead-of-the-curve nutritionist and wellness expert.

When you’re having one of those weeks, reaching for a packaged protein bar may be the only option. But in an ideal world, I’d make all of my protein snacks at home—and so would you!

The ideal snack provides protein and healthy fats to keep you satisfied and give you energy without being a total calorie bomb (since it’s supposed to fill in gaps between meals, not become its own meal).

These are a few I’ve been making lately that are a little creative and different (AKA, not just handfuls of nuts…which I also love, by the way) but require very little time and skill to make.

protein snacks

Protein Snacks: Roasted Chickpeas

Let’s start with my Chickpeas with Toasted Nori and Cayenne. Chickpeas are a great plant-based source of protein, fiber, and antioxidants. I like to throw them in everything, from salads to sauteed greens. Roasted, they make a great snack.

Here, I tossed them in a little bit of avocado oil and sprinkled them with a pinch or two of cayenne (be cautious if you’re sensitive to spice!) and sea salt. Then, I roasted them in the oven, on 400, for about 15 minutes. When there was just about a minute left, I took them out and sprinkled them with a sheet of nori, which you can either just tear up or chop. Then, back in the oven for one minute to crisp it all up, and they’re done!

RELATED: Why You Should Add Spices to Every Meal

protein snacks

Adding the nori is super beneficial since sea vegetables are loaded with minerals and they’re not something we have a lot of opportunities to get in often. They also add salty flavor and crispy texture.

When these are done, you can throw handfuls into baggies to keep in your purse or keep a little bowl on your desk for an afternoon bite.

Protein Snacks: Peanut Butter Bites

protein snacks

Next, I’m loving these No-Bake Peanut Butter Bites. Made with peanut butter (obviously), chia seeds, and flaxseeds, they’re filled with protein and healthy fats. I also like that these are automatically portion-controlled, since they’re made in a mini muffin pan and end up being bite-sized.

They make a great snack, or you can also serve ‘em to your kids as a high-protein, low-sugar breakfast that’s nice and sweet.

Get the full recipe, here.

protein snacks

Protein Snacks: Overnight Oats

Speaking of breakfast, you might think Overnight Oats are just for the AM hours, but they’re also a perfect make-ahead protein snack, when you throw in a little high-quality protein powder.

RELATED: 7 High-Protein Breakfast Recipes to Power Your Mornings

protein snacks

I love filling a bunch of jars and having them in the fridge for whenever you need something quick and filling. They’re especially great for post-workout, since the protein powder is paired with healthy carbs from oats. Bonus: You can add whatever you want to the jar to dress it up and keep things exciting: chia seeds, berries, bananas, almonds, cashews, coconut, etc.

Get the full recipe, here.

If you’re really feeling like a pro, make all three of these on a Sunday night and you’ll be set for snacking all week.


This Former Junk Food is Now a High-Protein Snack

Here’s a phrase that might sound like an oxymoron: healthy beef jerky.

Traditionally, gas station jerkies like Slim Jims were straight-up junk food (not gonna lie…I had a weakness for these in my younger days!). They cured cheap meat with nitrates and nitrites (classified as “probably carcinogenic to humans” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, by the way) and then loaded it with sodium, sugar, and artificial flavors and additives (um, yuck!).

RELATED: 4 Reasons You Have Sugar Cravings

Those still exist, but there’s a whole new category of healthy beef jerky, made by companies using high-quality, grass-fed beef (and also organic chicken and turkey in some cases), which is higher in healthy fats like omega-3s and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than grain-finished beef.

RELATED: The Paleo Diet, Explained

These brands are dehydrating the meat or curing it with natural ingredients like salt and vinegar and skipping unhealthy additives. In many cases, they’re even adding additional nutritious ingredients, like antioxidant-rich spices and coconut oil. (Just keep an eye out for excess sugar, still.)

The result? A fast, easy high-protein snack that’s perfect for after a workout or to throw in your travel bag. You can also make your own at home, or check out these five healthy brands worth biting into.

5 Healthy Beef Jerky Brands to Try

Lorissa’s Kitchen

Made with 100 percent grass-fed beef and other clean ingredients, Lorissa’s flavors—like Korean Barbeque—are super delicious. The only downside is the sugar is a little high, so stick to a serving at a time.

Laura’s Lean Beef

Laura’s doesn’t have as many fancy flavors as others, but it’s made with meat that’s both grass-fed and certified USDA organic. It’s high protein and low sugar.

The New Primal

If Slim Jims were your jam, try The New Primal’s meat sticks, like the Cilantro Lime Turkey Sticks made with free-range turkey, sea salt, and antioxidant-packed spices or Habanero Pineapple, made with grass-fed beef.

Wilde

Wilde makes jerky-based protein bars with grass-fed beef and added healthy ingredients. Its Peach BBQ bar, for instance, also contains quinoa, chia seeds, coconut oil, and cinnamon.

RELATED: Coconut Oil Vs. Olive Oil: Which is Healthier?

EPIC

If you love cured meat, EPIC makes it all—Chicken Sesame BBQ jerky, Venison Sea Salt snack strips, and Bison Bacon Cranberry bars. Not to mention bone broth, animal oils, and more, all of it produced with the highest, healthy standards—for both you and the planet.

 

The 5 Healthiest Protein Bars

Protein bars are everywhere, calling out to you from next to the cash register at every deli, cafe, and drugstore. The healthiest protein bars, however, are much harder to find.

In fact, most options are just plain bad for your body. They contain more sugar (in multiple forms!) than protein, and the protein is low-quality and over-processed. Not to mention additives like artificial flavors and preservatives.

To help you figure out which to reach for, we unwrapped dozens of the most popular brands and evaluated the ingredients, nutrition facts, and flavor. Our top picks all contain at least 10 grams of protein and less than 10 grams of sugar (in most cases, less than five, and sugar is also far down on the ingredient list). They’re all made with healthy sources of protein (that come in bar form, that is) and the additional ingredients are real, clean food, not fillers.

RELATED: 4 Reasons You Have Sugar Cravings

Important: We cut off the calories at around 250, but all of these are basically mini-meals, for when you’ve got no lunch break between meetings or need fast protein after an intense workout. (We’ll share our favorite lower-calorie snack bars, later!)

Many of these are still not perfect, but they’re the best of what’s available now. Stick to whole foods, and grab these only when you’re in a bind.

The 5 Healthiest Protein Bars

healthiest protein bars

EPIC Chicken Sesame BBQ

Traditional beef jerky is all cheap meat, sugar, and nitrates from the curing process. EPIC is one of the companies reclaiming the category, with its line of jerky-inspired meat bars. This superstar bar packs 15g of protein into just 120 calories and contains only 3g of sugar. It’s made with high-quality lean chicken and other healthy whole foods like hemp seeds and antioxidant-rich garlic, onion, and ginger.

RELATED: Want More Smart Nutrition Advice? Sign Up for the Nutritious Life Newsletter, Now!

healthiest protein bars

Oatmega Chocolate Coconut Crisp

Oatmega’s bars have a lot going for them. This chocolatey one has 14g of whey protein from grass-fed cows and just 5g of sugar, plus added fish oil for an omega-3 boost. (Don’t worry, it  doesn’t taste fishy.) Bonus: it’s under 200 calories and also provides 7g of fiber. One note of caution on whey protein: These bars contain both whey protein isolate and whey protein concentrate. Both can upset digestion in some people, depending on your sensitivity. And the concentrate form has more lactose, so if you’re intolerant, this one isn’t for you.

healthiest protein bars

Strong & KIND Honey Mustard

KIND bars are a little bit of a mixed bag. They generally contain mostly whole food ingredients (points!), but some include non-organic soy lecithin or are a little high in sugar. This one from the new Strong & KIND line is pretty great, with 10g of protein from nuts and pea protein isolate and only 5g of sugar. It’s a great pick for vegetarians (but is technically not vegan because of the honey) and also contains healthy spices like turmeric and paprika.

RELATED: The Essential Guide to Plant-Based Protein

healthiest protein bars

Primal Kitchen Dark Chocolate Almond

Primal’s bars contain 15g of protein and only 3g of sugar, and the ingredient list reads like a healthy menu: almonds, pumpkin seeds, coconut oil, dark chocolate, etc. They also include collagen from happy, grass-fed Brazilian cows and 6g of fiber, so you may get some gut health benefits, too.

healthiest protein bars

GoMacro Protein Purity

We really don’t like that a form of sugar (brown rice syrup) is the first ingredient in this bar, but we’re including them on the list for an important reason. It’s the only protein bar with a decent nutrient balance (10g protein to 9g sugar in 260 calories) that is also totally allergen-free. So, it works for those who need to avoid nuts, soy, gluten, eggs, and dairy. And the ingredients it does contain mostly come from healthy whole foods, like sunflower seed butter, sprouted brown rice protein, cinnamon, and vanilla.

(Top Photo: Instagram/primalkitchenfoods)

 

In the Kitchen with Keri: My Quest to Make Fried Pickles Healthier

in-the-kitchen-with-keriWe share heaps of healthy information on Nutritious Life’s blog every day, but “In the Kitchen with Keri” is your chance to spend some quality time with the wonder woman behind it all, Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN. It’s where she invites you into her space to share the ingredients she’s currently obsessed with, recipes she can’t get enough of, and other tips and tricks learned over many years of life as an always-ahead-of-the-curve nutritionist and wellness expert.


This month, I’m starting with a confession: I love fried pickles, AKA frickles.

To be honest, I ate them recently at a bar while on date night with my man. Then, I went back to that same bar with friends on my birthday, and they were my only indulgence. I even chose them over cake. That’s big for me! I love cake!

But, I also love pickles. Why do I love thee? Well, cucumbers are hydrating and filled with fiber and vitamins, and when they’re pickled, they’re crunchy, salty, and virtually calorie-free. Some pickles are also fermented, which means major gut health benefits. (How to tell? Most pickles on the shelf at the supermarket made with vinegar are not fermented; look for brands that say “naturally fermented” and are stocked in the refrigerator. Or, ferment your cukes at home.)

Pickles are the perfect addition to salads, sandwiches, and bunless burgers and work perfectly as a finger food…watching a game or while sitting at a bar. Martini not included.

And fried…sigh. Frickles are just delicious to the point of dreamy.

But I’m a nutritionist, of course, so my go-to thought is: How can I make this a food that works for you instead of against you? How can I take out all of the bad stuff like the white flour, unhealthy oils, and the process of deep frying but keep the flavor?

fried-pickles

How to Make Fried Pickles Healthier

My solution: Bickles.

What the heck are bickles? Well, the first step is to replace the “fr” for fried with a “b” for baked. And instead of breadcrumbs, I coat them with almond flour and add antioxidant-rich spices like cayenne pepper.

The result is a baked pickle that comes with a kick but without the greasy taste. Compared to frickles, they taste “cleaner,” but the flavor’s still intact since most of it comes from the pickle itself, anyway.

fried pickles

Get the recipe, here, and serve them as part of a burger-and-salad night, as finger food while watching a game, or as a snack for the kiddies.

Bon appétit!

 

Travel Workouts: The Easiest Ways to Maintain Your Routine

Whether you’re getting ready for a road trip to visit family during the holidays, just snagged a new job that involves tons of business travel, or are planning your next vacation, fitting in travel workouts can be tough.

But figuring out how to stay active while jet-setting is not as hard as it seems. (It’s way easier than doing burpees for a minute straight, for example.)

Here are a few easy ways to sweat as often as possible while you’re on the go (just don’t forget to throw a few healthy snacks in your bag, either).

 

3 Travel Workouts You Can Do Almost Anywhere

 

1. Pack your running sneakers. Traveling involves a lot of stress, so don’t add to it by overcomplicating your workouts. Running is the simplest of exercises—all you need are your favorite kicks and any open road. Even if you’re more of a SoulCycle person, make an exception and hit the pavement. There are also a few great portable tools for resistance training on the road, like lightweight resistance bands you can toss in any bag or the TRX, which you can attach to a hotel room door or tree in a park to get in a full strength-training sequence.

2. Find a fast, free online workout. You’re going to be pressed for time, but good news: most recent research points to fast, intense workouts delivering the same benefits as longer sessions. YouTube is stocked with free workout videos that range in length from five to thirty minutes and don’t require any equipment at all. Or try this five-minute workout that happens to be one of our favorites.

3. Sign up for a digital membership (or try a new studio).  If you’re a boutique fitness junkie, many of the top brands now offer digital version of their workouts, so you can keep up your routine even when far from a studio. A few great options include Natalie Jill’s inspiring body-weight strength-training programs, Barre3 and Physique 57 for barre, AKT on Demand for dance and HIIT training, and My YogaWorks for yoga. Bonus idea: do a quick search for gyms and fitness studios in the city you’re headed to before you leave and book a few new classes to try before you even leave. Then you’ll be locked into sweat sessions before your trip even kicks off.

 

The Busy Parent’s Guide to Healthy Snacks

When the kids come home from school, more often than not, they’re hungry and scavenging the kitchen for a quick snack. What’s a busy mom (or dad) to do? You need easy, interesting, healthy, and fast go-to’s…like a guide to healthy snacks!

When it comes to snack time, especially for kids who may eat small amounts at meals, snacks are an equally important place to squeeze in nutrients. Half a sandwich eaten at lunch? The second half combined with a ½ cup of fruit may just be the perfect snack.

Snack time is also the perfect time to sneak in a serving of veggies, which don’t need to make an appearance only at dinner time. Veggies contain fiber and antioxidants while being low in calories, and after school snack time is a key time to make sure your kids are feeding their brains.

Broccoli rabe is a great source of vitamin K, known for its help in boosting cognitive function and brainpower. It also has high levels of vitamin C, proven to protect against brain degeneration.

Before the kids have time to grab a bag of chips or the candy you try your best to keep stowed away, check out this guide to healthy snacks that you and your kiddies will love to dip, crunch, and snack on. And they’re all are packed with nutrients and can be made in 5 steps or less!

 

The Busy Parent’s Guide to Healthy Snacks

Broccoli Rabe Quesadilla

brocc-rabe-quesadilla


Broccoli Rabe Toast

broccoli-rabe-toast


Beet Dip with Crudites

beet-dip


Chickpea, Broccoli Rabe, Cucumber Salad

broccoli-rabe-chickpea-tomato-cucumber-salad

 

3 Healthy Snacks for Weight Loss


Today I’m talking about one of my absolute fave topics. Drumroll please… snacking!

Lunch was at noon. It’s now 3pm and you’re starving, and dinner isn’t until 6pm. But you promised yourself you’d avoid the vending machine today and you don’t want to blow it.

Well, you can check those “guilty” feelings around having an afternoon snack at the door, because when done right, snacking can be healthy for you and even be a weight loss tool.

Snacking on the wrong types of foods — 90% of what’s in that vending machine – as well as not snacking at all can actually cause you to gain weight and simply be unhealthy.

Nut there are healthy snacks for weight loss that can help you stay satisfied, reduce how many calories you eat at your next meal, lower your cholesterol, improve your energy and make you feel happier!

The key is to make sure your snacks work for you, not against you. Yes, I’m talking to you pretzels and baked chips.

 

3 Healthy Snacks for Weight Loss

Crudites with guacamole: Choose bright colored veggies like carrots and red peppers instead of those fluorescent orange snacks and satisfy your crunchy craving. Pair them with guacamole for healthy fat that can actually help you burn fat.

Try two tablespoons of guacamole with 1 cup sliced veggies. Get creative and mix it up with grape tomatoes, celery, green beans, endive, radishes…in season produce is best!

Mixed berries, ricotta and flax: Need to satisfy your sweet tooth? Raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries have high water volume, are packed with fiber and are loaded with cell repairing antioxidants. Ricotta is satisfying and creamy, but also provides you with protein and calcium. Ground flaxseed adds healthy fat and more fiber.

Try 1 cup mixed berries, ⅔ cup ricotta and 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed for a perfect snack trifecta.

Apple, peanut butter and cinnamon: Sweet, tart, and crunchy, green apples will satisfy almost any craving while also being the highest in antioxidants of any apples. Sorry, Gala. Peanut butter is the perfect combo of protein, fat and fiber, all which help to keep you satisfied. Just make sure you’re opting for a natural peanut butter with no added sugars. A sprinkle of cinnamon not only adds a boost of flavor, but it’s also been shown to help control blood sugar and even to help you relax.

Ahhhh….Try one small sliced apple with one tablespoon pb and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon.

So give these healthy snacks for weight loss a try next time you’re feeling ravenous in between meals. Snacking the right way can actually help you consume less calories throughout the day, help you avoid that habitual pull to the vending machine for the not-so-great snack options, and lead you to be happier and healthier overall!

12 Awesome Healthy Snacks On The Go

Healthy snacks are hard enough to pack as part of your normal routine, so when it comes to traveling, packing them can be more stressful than deciding between wedges or flats.

You’ve heard it a thousand times: Be prepared, pack smart, snack smart, blah blah blah. But there’s more to life than boring snacks!

I’ve done all the hard work for you and I’m sharing my favorite fresh, non-boring, packable healthy snacks.

And, since I like to be prepared for pretty much everything, pack both the wedges and the flats.

12 Awesome Healthy Snacks On The Go

So the next time you travel, before you decide that “vacation = inevitable weight gain”, pack along these healthy snacks to keep you on track wherever you may go.

Whether you’re racking up the frequent flier miles or just a once-in-a-while vacationer, you have the means to snack smart at any and all destinations. Bon voyage!

If you need more snackspiration, you MUST check out The Wellnecessities Collection for a regular dose of the newest products. The Collection offers is a seasonal delivery of healthy foods and lifestyle essentials that protect and promote your health. Made by a Dietitian and a Doctor. The founder, dietitian, Lisa Hayim is a Nutritious Life Certified rock star, so we’re super proud of what she is doing and lucky us and you, enter code: NL20 and for 20% off!

2 Farro Salad Recipes You NEED in Your Life

Kale salad, check. Three berry fruit salad, check. Cucumber salad, check. Farro salad? Hmmmm.

You’re eating clean. Getting in those greens. Drinking your tea. And, chowing down on nuts and avocado. But, you still need a little substance.

Something solid as a side dish (or even a main meal) when salmon and spinach alone don’t do the trick.

Rice? Pasta? No thank you refined starchy evil doers.

Quinoa? Been there, done that for the past two years.

Enter your new friend farro, also known as emmer or “true” farro. Sometimes this ancient grain gets confused with spelt, worthy of praise too, but different in taste, texture and nutrients than the the real deal variety.

When you a need a hearty side dish that you can feel empowered eating, give this really retro grain a try. Farro is a whole grain loaded with vits and mins, fiber and a little protein. Its also your new grain friend-with-benefits: it’s lower in calories than brown rice and quinoa and higher in fiber. Queue the mic drop.

Here are two of my fave go to farro salad recipes for you to give a try:

 

Fresh Mozzarella Farro Salad – Get the Recipe!

fresh mozzerella farro salad

 

Asparagus Farro Salad – Get the Recipe!

asparagus-farro-salad-cropped-x

 

One Surprising Reason to Have a Healthy Sex Life

I talk a lot about having a healthy sex life and the benefits of sex, but today’s reason might surprise you.

Did you know that having sex improves your sense of smell?

After sex, there is a surge in the production of the hormone prolactin, which causes your brain’s stem cells to form new neurons in the olfactory bulb, also known as the brain’s smell center.

Why am I talking about this? Well, you know I always support having a healthy sex life, because research shows it’s a best way to lose weight.

And we know that how well you can taste your food is tied to how well you can smell.

Research also shows that there are certain aromas that will actually curb your appetite. So, the more sex you have, the better your ability to smell these foods, the more weight you may be likely to lose!  Now if that’s not a beautiful trifecta of benefits, I don’t know what is.

 

How a Healthy Sex Life and a Better Sense of Smell Relate

 

One study showed that strong aromas can cause you to grab a smaller forkful of food, so think chiles and onions if you need a little help in the not devouring-your-meal department.

Another study found that the smell of bananas and green apple can actually curb your appetite, so reach for a whiff of these when you’re trying to lessen the amount of times you open the pantry door every afternoon. Licorice works well here, too.

Grapefruit has been shown to lower appetite and weight. I love having my clients eat half of a grapefruit with cinnamon as a snack when they are cleansing or trying to lose weight.

And here’s a fun fact: my mom started dinner every night with a half grapefruit on all of our plates. I have no idea why, and it had nothing to do with weight loss, but there is a special place in my heart for these citrus powerhouses.

So, back to why I originally started writing this. You should have more sex. It’s part of a Nutritious Life, and there are so many other benefits we didn’t cover here today. Clients always raise their eyebrows when I ask them about sex in our nutrition counseling sessions but it truly does have a place in a nutritious life.

I don’t want the private details – I want to know they are using it as a secret weapon to manage stress, burn some calories (sexercise, anyone?), and in the end, lose more weight. See, it’s not all about the food.