If you're super lucky like me, the festive break has fondly gifted you with some unwanted extra padding around the waistline, thanks to those colossal Christmas feasts and general holiday chow.
As the new year gets well and truly under way, we're all getting back into that work routine, and with that comes the mindless drift towards the vending machine for a mid-morning/afternoon perk up. We all have long days and find ourselves needing a boost of energy, or succumbing to the afternoon snack attack.
But before you go digging up those not-so-good treats you kept hidden in that bottom drawer, or start making excuses that you've run out of ideas for healthy snacks, we've done the hard yards for you and dug up some nifty little snack recipes that won't make you sluggish or crash from a sugar high.
Here's our roundup of some low calorie, waistline and heart friendly albeit delicious snack ideas you may not have thought of yet.
Kale is a leafy green vegetable that is considered to be a variation of cabbage. Don't let that throw you off though! Chop up some kale and place over baking paper. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and a touch of olive oil. Bake at 180 degrees for approximately 10 minutes (or until crisp) and you have the healthiest alternative to potato chips around and they taste fantastic!
Cucumbers & Whipped Cheese
I know what you're thinking – whipped cheese doesn't belong in this category! But trust me, there is a reason why this combination takes high teas and canapé platters by storm. Search your local grocery shop for whipped cream cheese. This has fewer calories than your standard cream cheese. Cucumbers are also a great water source too so no bloating! Apply the mix to light crackers or wholemeal bread, or even just stack the two like canapes. Versatile and tasty. For only 100 calories? Win.
Healthy Ice Block Treats (Strawberry and Kiwi)
Granted this probably isn't something you can pack for work, but these ice-blocks (and their countless variations) are packed with nutritious fresh ingredients that won't make you feel sluggish from excessive sugar. Toss together a punnet of strawberries, 2 peeled and chopped kiwi fruit, and about 1 ½ cups of OJ. Pop these in the freezer for a great afternoon snack during the sizzling summer. Don't have an ice block maker? Not to worry – plastic cups and paddle pop sticks will suffice. Think of all the different fruit combinations you could throw together too!
The grand soybean. Some of you have probably seen this delightful little vegetable floating around your local sushi bar and Japanese restaurant, but haven't ventured to trying them.
Or if you have, you've probably been caught off-guard by the shells.
Edamame beans are packed with iron and protein and are an awesome low calorie snack to munch on – and they're tasty too! Unshelling them is also pretty fun. Track down your local Asian grocer for these. Steamed with a sprinkle of rock salt on top and you're good to go! Or, you can go the lazy route and pick up a pack from your local Japanese haunt (our picks are Reef Seafood and Sushi Bar and Fresh Sushi Co. for beans on the go!).
Avocado Devilled Eggs
If you're a fan of devilled eggs as it is, the addition of avocado will please your tastebuds! These are also a great option for a platter for a gathering, or taking on picnics too.
Spicy Crunchy Chickpeas
We rarely think of chowing down chickpeas outside of them being blended into hummus. The texture of roasted chickpeas is surprisingly crispy and crunchy. Oven roasting them also means you're cutting out excess oils and fats. The chilli is also optional too if you're not a fan – simply sprinkle with salt and pepper and even herbs of your choice. One can will make multiple snack servings so you can pack them for work during the week.
Opting for healthier meal/snack alternatives doesn't necessarily mean you have to forego the deliciousness of your traditional favourites. Here we have pizzas made on wholewheat pita bread instead. The smaller serving sizes mean you can either have them as both a meal or slice them up into snack size strips. The crispiness of the pita base is like having a thin'n'crispy pizza base! Top with your favourite ingredients and voila!
Greek Salad Bites
The typical salad has been done time and time again and has been talked about in healthy meal discussions for eons. These little bites are a great spin on one of our trusty favourite salad options, and is also easier to portion-control when stacked. You can set aside a certain number for your mid-afternoon snack without worrying about overeating. These also make for a great appetizer for a dinner party.
Baked Coconut Prawns
As Australians we do love our prawns. These protein-packed coconut-sprinkled prawns get a healthy twist when baked rather than fried.
Brown Rice Sushi
Another variation of a favourite is using brown rice instead of white rice in sushi. This option is popping up in a lot of local sushi bars too (Fortitude Valley's new health hot spot Bang Bang Lulu is a noteable mention). Round up some friends to come over and make some homemade brown rice sushi. Fill with nutritious and fresh ingredients, cut down to snack portions and you have readily available sushi to munch on for a few days. Half the fun is also in making your own too!