By a stroke of luck, I was blessed with a speedy metabolism. Throughout my life, I’ve not only enjoyed eating breakfast, lunch and dinner, but usually need a snack to keep me fueled between lunch and dinner and sometimes in the evening, too.
So I’m glad to see the increased interest in snacking, discussion of what’s considered a “good” snack and how to incorporate snacks into a healthy lifestyle.
At a recent presentation I attended sponsored by Bush Brothers & Company and the Hartman Group, the topic was snacking along with the redefinition of meals. One of the themes presented is that snacks are not only becoming healthier, they’re also becoming more wholesome, satisfying, hearty and nourishing. And foods marketed as snacks are changing regarding their protein, fiber, vitamin and minerals content.
No doubt about it, there is clearly more eating on-the-go. A generation ago, three square meals ruled, with our activities fitting around our meals. Today, it’s just the opposite: Our eating is fit into our many activities. “To live a full life, you have to participate in many activities,” observed Shelley Balanko, PhD, Senior Vice President of the Hartman Group.
Meals are being replaced by snacks because they’re flexible, fun and easily individualized. According to Hartman research, 91 percent of consumers snack multiple times throughout the day; 8 percent of these consumers forego meals altogether in favor of all-day snacking. Wow!
The boundary between what comprises a meal and a snack is increasingly blurry. According to Balanko, snacks are not just complementing but replacing meals, increasing the need for them to fulfill traditional meal functions.
Two food trends that converge are high protein and plant protein. A perfect illustration of this convergence is the humble bean. And yes, taste still rules when it comes to our food choices.
John McDermott of Bush’s Beans asked consumers what they look for in a snack. Consumers said snacks:
- Must be healthy
- Should be easy to prepare and be consumed quickly
- Can be enjoyed without guilt
- May be eaten to improve energy or performance
- Younger millennials (under age 35) are more likely to say they snack for fuel and physical activity as compared to people aged 35 and above.
Snack options can be found in practically every aisle of the grocery store. Certain foods that previously might be overlooked for snacks can be turned into delicious and nutritious snacks for all age groups – from tots to seasoned citizens. Snack time can be an opportunity to add plants to the diet; why not serve beans? They can be served as dips (served with carrots, whole grain crackers or tortilla chips), oven-roasted chickpeas or packaged crisp-roasted chickpeas or bean baked chips. I happen to love all three!