Healthy snacks for binge watching TV

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Qualified Nutritionist (BSc, MSc, RNutr)
@EmmaThornton
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17 April 2020

What can I snack on whilst watching TV?

Healthy snacking can be a great way of getting more nutrients into your day, as long as you pick the right things to eat! The best snacks to eat whilst watching TV will be nutrient-dense, packed with vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients, such as:

  1. Popcorn
  2. Hummus
  3. Fresh fruit sweet treats!
  4. Healthy crisps.

Read on to find out about the health benefits of these foods, and get ideas on how they can be enjoyed as part of a healthy TV-watching snack!

1. Popcorn

Many of us may think of popcorn as an indulgent treat which should only be enjoyed as a one-off at the cinema. However, popcorn on its own is actually pretty nutritious, and when you make your own and add your own seasonings, it can be a low-calorie healthy snack!

Popcorn is actually a wholegrain food, making it naturally high in many important nutrients. Consumption of wholegrains has been linked to health benefits such as reduced inflammation in the body1 and decreased risk of heart disease.2

Popcorn also provides a source of many key nutrients, including B vitamins, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and manganese. In addition to this, popcorn contains large amounts of polyphenol antioxidants.

Polyphenols are plant compounds which have been associated with numerous health benefits, such as improving blood circulation and digestive health, and reducing the risk of many diseases.3

As it is made from wholegrain carbohydrates, popcorn is also a great source of fibre. High-fibre foods can keep you feeling satisfied for longer by providing a steady release of energy, making you less likely to crave more food soon after eating!

The combination of this, plus the fact that popcorn is low in calories, makes it a great choice if you're looking to lose a bit of weight. One study, which compared feelings of fullness after eating popcorn or crisps, found that 15 calories of popcorn were as filling as 150 calories of crisps!4

To reap the benefits of popcorn, try making your own by popping corn kernels in a microwave or popcorn maker. This is the healthiest cooking method, and allows you to add your own healthy toppings.

Smothering your popcorn in butter, salt or sugar cancels out the health benefits. So, try seasoning your popcorn with herbs and spices such as oregano, garlic or curry powder.


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2. Hummus

Hummus is a versatile ingredient which is healthy, tasty, and really easy to add to many dishes, or to enjoy as a snack. Traditional hummus, made from chickpeas, ground sesame seeds (tahini), olive oil and lemon juice, is high in protein, fibre, and slow-digesting carbohydrates.

Chickpeas, the main ingredient in traditional hummus, contain a type of starch called amylose that digests slowly, which helps to keep blood sugar levels stable. This can keep you feeling fuller and more satisfied for longer periods of time.

Chickpeas are also high in dietary fibre, containing around 9 to 12 grams per cup. They contain a soluble fibre called raffinose, which is broken down and digested slowly in the body. This can help to make bowel movements easier and more regular.

In addition to this, chickpeas are a source of iron, calcium, folic acid and phosphorus, which are all essential for maintaining good health!
Another benefit of hummus is the fact that sesame seeds and oil contain healthy fats. Healthy fats can help to reduce the risk of heart disease, and decrease inflammation.

Moreover, healthy fats may be beneficial for energy levels. In research they have been shown to be helpful in slowing down the absorption of carbohydrates, avoiding blood sugar spikes which can cause your energy levels to crash later.5

So, hummus is a really nutritious snack to eat whilst watching TV, as long as you stick to the recommended serving size and enjoy it with healthy accompaniments! Hummus can be used as a dip for veggies such as red pepper strips, carrot or cucumber sticks. Toasted pitta bread and wholegrain crackers are also yummy dipped in some hummus!

You could also try our Dry-Roasted Curried Chickpeas - they are utterly delicious, and make a great 'picky' food!

3. Fresh fruit as sweet treats!

As I am sure you are all aware, fresh fruits are so nutritious and provide us with lots of health advantages!

Fruits are rich in vitamins and minerals, and contain antioxidants which help to protect the body from damage caused by harmful molecules known as free radicals. As well as this, fruit is low in calories, and provides a source of fibre. So, when it comes to keeping healthy, you can't go wrong with including more fruits in your diet!

If you have a sweet tooth when it comes to TV-snacking, fruit can be great. There are many sweet treats you can make which include fruit, and you can add lots of different things to spice things up!

  • If you're a fan of dark chocolate, try melting 30-60g and use this as a dip for fruits such as banana or strawberries
  • Try having sorbet with lots of berries, such as raspberries, blueberries and blackberries
  • Cut up an apple and enjoy with a serving of peanut or almond butter
  • Mix some plain Greek yogurt with your favourite fruits – I like to use a mix of berries, or apple and grapes.

With all the recipe ideas above, it is important to make sure the fruit is the main star! Make sure you stick to the recommended portion sizes for your sweet add-ons. If you indulge in these too much, the calories will start to add up, and so will the sugar and fat content.

4. Healthy crisps

For many people, crisps will be the first choice for snacking on when watching the TV. However, these may not be the best choice as they can be high in saturated fat and salt, high in calories, and they are extremely easy to eat far too much of!

A good alternative to this is to make your own crisps. Oven baked homemade crisps are a lot healthier than fried, shop-bought ones – and you can decide what goes into them and what seasonings you add.

How to make homemade crisps:

  • Preheat oven to 230 degrees C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  • Cut 3 medium potatoes into thin round slices (about 1/8 of an inch thick)
  • Cook the potato slices in a pot of boiling water for around 3-5 minutes
  • Drain potatoes well then combine with 1 tbsp of oil, some salt and pepper, and any herbs and spices that you like, for example, garlic powder, oregano, paprika or basil
  • Place the potato slices on the prepared baking tray. Bake for about 15 minutes until crisp and golden brown. Gently remove crisps and place on a cooling rack or piece of baking paper; let them cool for a few minutes and then they are ready to serve
  • Weigh out one serving (around 30g) and enjoy!

You may also like to try our Easy Baked Curried Tortilla Chips. These are very simple and quick to make, and are an excellent alternative to shop bought crisps.

Another great alternative you can try is vegetable crisps. These types of crisps are generally lower in saturated fat, and provide a source of fibre. As well as this, vegetable crisps can provide a source of essential nutrients such as vitamin E, and small amounts of iron, vitamin C, potassium and vitamin K.

Just like potato crisps, it is beneficial to make your own vegetable variety. Shop-bought ones can be really high in salt, which isn't what we want for a healthy snack.

Also, as I have previously touched on, make sure you are only eating the recommended serving size. Some people may eat double the amount they usually would, just because the food is deemed 'healthy', and end up eating the same number of calories as they would with an unhealthy snack! Recommended serving sizes are often provided on food labels and, if not, you can easily look them up online.

Vegetable crisps can be made of anything from carrots and spinach, to lentils. Try out our Kale Chips - they are crunchy and full of flavour, yet so healthy! If you like having a dip with your crisps, try out our Spicy Guacamole Dip or our Tomato and Pepper Salsa.

What you said!

We recently ran a poll to find out if you always eat snacks when watching a movie. We've crunched the numbers and here are the results.

Results: Do you always have to eat snacks when you watch a movie?

It's good to see the majority of you only sometimes eat snacks when watching a movie. Often, when snacking whilst watching TV, people can fall victim to 'mindless eating' and consume lots of extra calories without even realising! If you do enjoy snacking, make sure you opt for healthy foods.

References

1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25646321 
2 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20685951 
3 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22747081 
4 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22978828 
5 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15975169/ 

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