Tag Archives: healthy snacks

Smart Snacking

When that mid-afternoon slump hits and you need a snack to get you through the rest of the work day, it’s tempting to head to the vending machine and grab a candy bar or chips. But there are healthy snack options at the vending machine that will satisfy that salt or sweet craving but won’t completely sabotage the hard work you’ve put in at the gym. Some snacks even have nutritional fiber and protein, and protein is your best bet for increasing your energy.

Here are 10 top picks when you need a pick-me-up:

1. Planters Sunflower Kernels
2. Baked! Lays Original
3. Sun Chips Original
4. Snyder’s of Hanover Mini Pretzels
5. Smartfood Reduced-Fat Popcorn
6. Peanut M&M’s
7. Fig NewtonsNature Valley Smart Snacking
8. Nature Valley Granola Bar, Oats & Honey
9. Planters Honey Roasted Peanuts
10. Quaker Chewy Low-Fat Granola Bar, Chocolate Chunk

Other smart options include 100 percent fruit snacks and even Rice Krispie treats. So don’t fear the vending machines, just make smart snacking choices!

It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane… It’s a Superfood!

Foods with high levels of vitamins and minerals are often called superfoods.  Superfoods may also contain antioxidants, substances that prevent or delay cell damage and help prevent disease.  Some people also claim that superfoods have incredible health benefits, today's superfoodssuch as lowering the risk of cancer, arthritis, and Alzheimers.   It could just be good marketing—these extraordinary claims have yet to be supported by scientific research—but experts do agree that a nutritious diet is essential to maintaining a healthy weight and overall good health.   At a minimum, superfoods are natural, unprocessed foods that can play a leading role in a nutritious and healthy diet.

Blueberries are a great source of antioxidants, potassium, and vitamin C.  Blueberries are also a natural anti-inflammatory. Looking for something more exotic? Try açai, a small purple berry with high levels of antioxidants.  Because it is native to South America, it is not usually found fresh here in the United States, so it is usually seen in smoothies and juices.  Another option is goji berries, which are small, red-orange berries high in Vitamin C.  Native to Asia, they are sold here dried or in powders and drinks.

Kale is the current star vegetable, packed with lutein, potassium, and vitamins A and K.  It is served raw in salads and smoothies or sautéed with apples and onions.  If kale is old news, try mustard greens, which are also high in vitamin A and C.  Other trendy choices include seaweed, such as kelp used to roll sushi.  Seaweed contains omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, and magnesium.

Probiotics are “good” bacteria that assist in digestion.  Yogurt is the most common source of probiotics, but they are also found in sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, and kefir.

Chia seeds are a hot new superfood because they contain fiber, omega fatty acids, calcium, and antioxidants.  Yes, it’s the same seed that was used to grow a “Chia Pet,” but they can be mixed into granola and tossed into smoothies for a superfood nutrition boost.


2014 Trends in Corporate Dining

As we welcome a new year, it’s a good time to look ahead to new dining trends. What 2013 trends are still hot, and what will your employees be looking for next year?

  1. Calorie-dense, healthy snacks.  A great example is nuts. Evidence continues to accumulate that nuts are good for your health.  People who eat nuts are less likely to corporate-diningdie of cancer, heart disease, and respiratory disease. The easiest choice is peanut butter, which is a good source of protein, but nuts can also be found in trail mix and granola bars, or added to salads and wraps.
  2. Allergy sensitivities: Gluten-free offerings were hot in 2013, and will continue to be popular.  Although few people are actually allergic to gluten, many people perceive gluten-free choices as healthy.  Non-wheat options, such as rice bowls, quinoa, and buckwheat are popular, because choosing gluten-free does not necessarily mean avoiding carbs.
  3. Vegan and Vegetarian Choices: More consumers are looking for meatless options, at least some of the time.  With the popularity of “Meatless Mondays,” flexitarians and others looking to make healthy choices will seek out these options.
  4. Fresh and local: Locally-grown produce and local sourcing of meat continue to be important to employees.  As vegetables take center stage in a variety of meals, the variety and quality of vegetables become more important.
  5. Healthy Eating Backlash:  Not everyone is looking to make healthy choices, so full fat options will remain popular. To makes those indulgences worthwhile, some employees will be looking for real cheese, fresh breads, and other “real” ingredients.
  6. It’s always snack time: Eating is less tied to the clock. Possibilities include extending breakfast foods to all day options: mixing the sweet and savory, such as chicken and waffles, or serving a spicy breakfast wrap at lunchtime.  Other employees may be looking for a more substantive snack around 4:00 pm, such as a smaller portion of a “real” meal.
  7. New flavors: Trend experts suggest that diners will continue to be interested in ethnic and street foods, particularly in sauces and dips. Pickled and sour foods, such as Kim chi and other pickled vegetables, are expected to become more popular in the workplace.
  8. Technology trends: Apps for consumers, with menus and daily deals, will continue to be popular in 2014.  Other growing technology trends include mobile payment options and using social media for market and loyalty programs—all of which USConnect provides, and has been a leader in bringing to the corporate food service market.