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As my due date for our first baby’s arrival gets closer and closer, I’ve actually been thinking less about labor, and more about what life may be like as a Mom. Because I’m a voracious reader, I’ve transitioned from the books about breathing through contractions (that was so 2 months ago) although I certainly plan to revisit them in my final month of pregnancy, and have started to read more about healthy sleep habits for baby and other post-natal considerations.
It’s kinda funny that we spend so much time thinking about labor, and we often forget about the whole ‘being a mom for the rest of your life’ thing. As I’ve been considering this, my nesting reflex has been kicking in and I’ve been thinking about the meals I’ll be preparing for our freezer once the fall rolls around.
But what about the hungry times that happen between meals? Or when meals don’t happen because I’m learning how to feed and diaper a new baby? What about the quick snacks that I’ll need? In fact, one of the most common struggles Moms face is how to get protein packed snacks in through the day (or any sort of food that resembles a ‘snack’ or ‘meal’).
Regardless of what busy means in your life as a Mom, most of us will be concerned with changing diapers, feeding a toddler, breastfeeding a baby, and maybe even getting laundry done. I imagine it is a zoo, a tiring, worthwhile zoo. I’m sure the Moms who are in the trenches of this reality could add a few things to this list!
When we are strapped for time, energy and focus, the first thing to go is our ability to spend time making decent food choices. Ironically, it’s at this point in our lives that we need to be eating well more than ever. We’re often not getting regular sleep and are outputting a ton of energy on a daily basis. In short, we need protein and we need fibre when we’re eating.
So I’ve done the work for you and have come up with six of the easiest to prepare, most accessible protein-packed snacks you can have around the house to help keep your blood sugar balanced and energy more stable through the days, nights and whenever you’ll need ’em.
These can be assembled before hand and wrapped in plastic or tin foil, or can be thrown together in a matter of minutes. You’ll need a couple lettuce leaves, two slices of deli turkey breast, a squirt of mustard and a piece of cheddar cheese for each wrap. Honestly, this is such a satisfying snack, it is a go-to for me already.
Of course you can play around with the filling for your lettuce wraps and use rotisserie chicken, a slice of red onion and aged white cheddar (my personal fave) or canned tuna, olives and tomato. The goal is to pair a source of protein, something to up the tasty factor like mustard, onion or olives and some fat from the cheese to make the snack last a bit longer.
No refrigerator needed. Heck, you can even keep some apples and protein bars stashed in the nursery if you need a middle of the night snack. (I think I’ll be following this plan).
I usually pick Granny Smith apples as I love the sour taste and guaranteed crunch, but any apple will do here. For the best protein bar options, we are looking for a protein packed, relatively low carbohydrate option. This will help to stabilize your blood sugar and keep you fuller for longer. You can use the label rule to figure out if your favourite bars fit the bill. I use Clif Builders, Think Thin, Hemp, Solo GI or Vega bars.
This is a snack option that I use when I know I am expending a ton of calories through exercise or perhaps, breastfeeding? Nuts, coconut and seeds contain more fat than they do protein, so eating even a small amount of nuts will significantly increase the amount of calories we take in. Remember, one gram of fat contains 9 calories while one gram of protein contains 4 calories. I certainly do not want you to stress all about your caloric intake, but endless handfuls of trail mix will provide you with a fair amount of calories.
For this reason, try to pre-pack your trail mix into smaller containers to help with portion sizing. If you are a nut lover, be aware of how much trail mix you are eating each day and keep this snack for every few days instead. My favourite recipe is 1/4 cup raw almonds, 1/4 cup shelled pistachios, 1/4 cup unsweetened dried cherries and 1/4 cup unsweetened dried coconut chips.
In my current life, I’ve been known to make oven roasted chickens from scratch. It’s honestly not that hard…but I’d be lying by omission if I didn’t share how often I purchase a rotisserie chicken from the store. It is probably my number one go to for easy protein. It goes into my lettuce wraps, it tops my salads, heck it even gets torn up and eaten with carrots as a snack quite often.
I can imagine that my upcoming Mom life will include some of what I already do which is grab rotisserie chicken right out of the fridge as a quick, filling and satisfying snack. Pair it with carrots, celery and hummus or just eat it on its own.
There’s a reason I call it ‘rotisserie chicken to the rescue’!
This idea comes from one of our Lifestyle Club members, Chelsea. She is the mom of a baby and a toddler so she knows exactly what it is like to be feeding little ones, getting workouts in, running a household and trying to maintain her energy all day.
I love to make smoothie bags when I’ve got a bunch of produce that is about to go bad, or if there is a good deal on fresh berries at the store. Spread out all your greens, berries and even some veggies on the counter. Wash, chop and assemble small ziploc bags of greens + fruit + veggies to freeze. Some of my favourite combinations are spinach, blueberries and carrot or kale, kiwi and raspberries.
When I need a quick snack or meal on the go, I’ll put one of my frozen smoothie bags into the blender with a cup of unsweetened almond milk, a cup of water, a scoop of vanilla protein powder and some hemp hearts. It’s a major time and brain saver when you need the thinking process to be easier.
This has been a go-to pregnancy snack for me, but they are super easy to make ahead of time so I plan to keep them on the roster for when baby comes too.
I use a 500mL mason jar and layer fresh fruit with one cup of plain unsweetened greek yogurt and a tablespoon of hemp hearts. I don’t put any honey or sweetener into this recipe, but you could easily add maple syrup to satisfy your personal taste. These keep well in the fridge for a few days.
You will need to spend a few minutes purchasing these items so you’ll have them handy, and a couple of the ideas above will take some time to prepare so you’re all stocked up for a few weeks. But let’s remember that when everyone else in the household is finishing up their lunch and you haven’t got time to cook yourself a full meal, you can grab something from the fridge or pantry to keep yourself going for a couple hours.
P.S. If you’re looking for more protein + fibre packed ideas you can grab your copy of my comprehensive nutrition guide, the Balanced Meal Blueprint. It’s a three week program designed to help you learn to eat better and craft meals that support your physical goals. It includes over 20 protein + fibre packed recipes too.