Pushing through the dreaded 3 p.m. slump is never easy, and while pounding a coffee and something sugary may work in the moment (or worse, a canned combo of the two), it just sets you up for a crash an hour later. Ugh.
That’s why the best antidote is a snack that combines protein and fiber, the dynamic duo when it comes to providing sustained energy, says Joy Bauer, MS, RD, founder of Nourish Snacks (and The Today Show‘s go-to nutrition guru). “Protein wakes up brain cells, making you more focused and alert,” she explains. “Fiber takes a while to break down, so it slows digestion and tends to prevent spikes in blood sugar.”
Of course, the real key to avoiding the vending machine’s siren song is planning, so make sure your bag is always packed with at least one healthy nibble—like one of the seven smart, and really delicious snack ideas Bauer’s sharing here… —Amy Marturana
(Photo: Joy Bauer)
Shrimp cocktail sounds decadent—especially at your desk. But from a calories-perspective, it isn’t at all—and it’s relatively easy to toss together and stash in the office fridge. “Shrimp is so light and low cal,” says Bauer, and it’s a great source of lean protein. Plus, the cocktail sauce provides a hit of capsacin—an awesome antioxidant—”which ever-so-slightly revs up your system,” Bauer says. (Pro tip: On crazy days when you can’t stop until late afternoon, add a grab-and-go gazpacho for the ultimate summer power lunch that feels really fancy.)
This healthy “pudding” is one of Bauer’s go-to snacks, because it’s suuuper simple and tastes like pumpkin pie. Mix a single serving container of plain, non-fat Greek yogurt and half a cup of 100 percent pure pumpkin puree. “It gives you the fiber and volume together,” she says. Add a dash of ground cinnamon or nutmeg for flavor (and for anti-inflammatory benefits), and top with chopped, toasted pecans or walnuts for an added protein boost.
Hummus deviled eggs
Traditional deviled eggs are notoriously mayo-heavy, but this version is light and easy. Just hard boil eggs, slice them in half, scoop out the yolks, and fill with hummus. “You get a double dose of protein and drive down the calories by scooping out the yolk,” Bauer explains. It’s also a great recipe to have up your sleeve for any last-minute house guests—just add a dash of paprika for color, and delight in them thinking you’re a super on-it hostess.
Green tea mango smoothie
With half the caffeine of coffee, green tea is perfect for helping you sail through the afternoon without bringing on insomnia later. Bauer’s easy smoothie recipe provides that hit of caffeine, plus a solid dose of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber—all in one glass. Just blend a small mug of green tea, half a cup of vanilla, fat-free Greek yogurt, one cup of mango chunks, and some ice. “The yogurt supplies the protein to fuel your brain cells, and the mango flavors it with natural sugar,” Bauer says.
Bagel with bean cheese
A bagel with cream cheese is a pretty so-so breakfast, but a bagel with bean “cheese” makes for a killer late afternoon snack. Whip up this topping before you head to work by mashing cannellini beans and spices like garlic, basil, red pepper, black pepper, sage, and salt. Then spread it over a scooped out bagel. “You wind up getting much more protein and energy,” Bauer says—while still getting your bagel fix.
Be gone, Doritos. When you want something crispy, “these are the ultimate snack,” Bauer raves. Chickpeas are basically a self-contained, one-stop-shop for protein and fiber, and when they’re roasted, they give the perfect crunch—and lots of delicious seasoning. Bauer tosses them on salads, adds them to pasta dishes, and uses them as a topper for chili (instead of tortilla chips).
Homemade trail mix
When it comes to trail mix, the combinations really are endless: you can go sweet, you can go savory, or you can do a bit of both. Take Bauer’s preferred blend, which has lots of different tastes and textures. “To me, one of the most energizing and slimming at the same time is roasted edamame, peanuts, light popcorn, dried fruit, and if you want to go crazy, a tablespoon or two of dark chocolate chips,” she says. Just toss everything into a bag, mix, and you’re out the door.