The Balance Box Guide to Healthy Snacking 

Fruit, nuts, seeds and energy bars lined up

As we find ourselves confined to our homes, many of will find our food intake rocketing – whether it is through comfort eating, boredom or genuine hunger. 

 

Being at home all day you will feel inclined to graze more than usual but the chances are you aren’t being as physically active as usual so need less calories. We’re not saying don’t snack – snacking is a natural urge that is necessary for optimal health – but make healthy choices rather than reaching for the biscuit tin. 

 

When mid-morning and mid-afternoon come around, we all feel a pang of hunger. Your body is telling you it has hit an energy slump and needs refuelling. There is always the temptation to grab a sugary treat but eating sugar has a negative effect on focus and energy levels so you’re much better off sticking to foods such as nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables.  

 

If you are in one of our food programmes you know that we consider snacking important to achieving consistent energy levels and a healthy body. These snacks needn’t be boring and uninspiring. Our clients love our snack bars and our recipe for coconut, date and cashew bliss balls has been one of our most popular yet! 

 
Fresh fruit is an ideal mid-morning snack, and if consumed with a handful of nuts or seeds, you will feel full for longer. As well as being packed with protein and essential fats, nuts and seeds slow down the rate at which the fruit’s sugars are absorbed by the body, steadying blood-sugar levels. Our favourites include a peach and a palm full of pecans, a banana and walnuts or kiwi fruit and sunflower seeds. Want to dress it up a bit? Sprinkle some almonds with a little smoked paprika.  

 

In the afternoon, opt for something savoury such as one tablespoon of your favourite nut butter spread on toasted rye. In her book, The Balanced Diet, Jennifer suggests making your own simple dips, they take moments to make. Try mashing or blending a tin of butterbeans with a handful of sundried tomatoes or pesto. Or mash an avocado with black pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. Scoop your dips up with crisp raw slices of vegetable such a carrot or pepper.   

 

Need a little help to stay on track? Order a Balance Box. Containing three meals a day, we make sure to include two delicious snacks every day to keep your cravings at bay and ensure you are eating at regular intervals. 

How to grow your own kitchen herb garden

Whether you’re short on space, do not have access to a garden or wish to have more plants in your home, there something very satisfying about growing your own kitchen herb garden. Herbs are some of the easiest plants to grow and will transform your efforts in the kitchen. 

Not only do you gain deliciously scented fresh herbs to add to you cooking all year round, plants are good of your health and happiness, purifying the air and creating a calming atmosphere.   

 

Our founder Jennifer is a keen gardener, so we asked her for her top tips for growing herbs indoors. 

 

 

 

Choose herbs you cook with the most frequently.  

My favourite herbs to grow indoors are basil, parsley and rosemary but I also like to grow chillies. They are great to have to hand and aesthetically pleasing.  

 

Choose a sunny location  

Light is key to the health of your plants. A south or east facing window is best. Rotate your pots and move them around as light and seasons shift. 

 

 

 

Use a container with good drainage.  

Choose pots with drain holes and saucers or place small pebbles at the at the base of your pot to aid drainage. I like to recycle Balance Box pots into plant containers. I heat a kitchen utensil and burn little holes in the bottom for drainage and add a few pebbles to the bottom. Add soil and sprinkle seeds over the top. Scatter a little more earth on top and water.  

 

Don’t overwater your herbs.   

The idea is to keep the soil damp, not saturated. It is best to water your plants in the morning and late afternoon when it’s a little shadier.  Wait until your herbs are mature before harvesting for the first time. Never harvest more than one third and wait for it to grow back before harvesting again.  

 

Pick your herbs from the top.  

This will ensure your plants stay bushy. If you pick from the side, they will grow tall and spindly. Take the large leaves first, giving the baby leaves chance to grow. Also, remove the flowers to prevent your herbs from going to seed. 

 

In a hurry? 

While growing from seed can be more rewarding, it takes a lot more time to get to the point where you’ll have herbs that are mature enough to eat. If you want your herb garden to be ready now there is nothing wrong with buying potted herb plants from the shops. Just pop then in you Balance Box pot or a larger container so they have more space to grow and keep then hydrated. Buy a few more plants than you need. They will look great on your windowsill, and you’ll be able to harvest and rotate your pots as cook with them. 

 

Recipes to add your home-grown herbs to:

Roasted Asparagus and Baby Tomatoes with Basil and Parmesan 

Grilled Lamb Cutlets with Mint Raita 

Warmed Pineapple with Orange & Basil 

Is there a nutritional difference between eggs?

From the “go to work on an egg” advertising slogans of the 1950s and 60s to cholesterol warnings of the 70’s the egg has had a chequered past. Fortunately, since then our understanding of nutrition has improved and we know that cholesterol in food has little effect on the cholesterol in your blood. Eggs are firmly back on the table and have been come one of the most instagramable foods around.

The humble egg has impressive health credentials and has long been considered a nutritious, inexpensive and tasty form of high-quality protein. Eggs are a natural source of many nutrients including vitamins B2, B12, D, A, folate and iodine.

There’s a lot of eggy options out there. The most commonly raised are chicken eggs, while more gourmet choices include quail, duck and goose eggs. But from organic to free-range, omega-3 enriched to barn eggs, research shows there is little difference in their nutritional values.

The mineral content will vary depending on the rearing environment and what is the hen’s feed. Free-range tend to have a slightly better nutritional profile especially if the hens have spent most of their time outdoors roaming.

Birds that get to eat insects and plants can transfer a wider array of nutrient into the eggs. And from an animal rights perspective, hens raised organically enjoy the highest level of welfare, greater space, outdoor access and a diet of organic feed.

Of course, the way we eat eggs can have the biggest impact on how healthy or unhealthy they are. A fried egg cooked in oil will never be as wholesome as a boiled egg so should be enjoyed as a treat. The healthiest ways are scrambled, poached, boiled or baked. One of our favourite ways to enjoy eggs is this recipe for Smoky baked eggs on rye.

 

 

 

In Season: British ingredients to eat now

Although there is a year-round supply of fresh food in the shops, it doesn’t mean the produce is at its best. We all know that its best to eat with the seasons, not only does it reduce carbon emissions and support the local economy, seasonal food is fresher and therefore tastier and more nutritious 

At Balance Box, we look forward to the abundance of British produce that becomes available at this time of year. Here are some of our favourite ingredients to choose this spring.  

Isle of Wight tomatoes 

Right now, we’re are celebrating this season’s first crop of beautiful British grown Isle of Wight tomatoes and The Tomato Stall have recently launched a home delivery service so you can get them straight to your door. 

Asparagus 

For a short period of time each year, the best asparagus spears are available on British soil. Boasting incredible flavour, asparagus spears decline quickly so are best enjoyed locally.  

Containing more folic acid than any other vegetable, asparagus is also a source of fibre, potassium, vitamins A and C. 

Jersey Royal potatoes 

Prized for its waxy texture, paper-thin skin and subtle nutty flavour, the Channel Islands’ most famous export has arrived on the shelves. An excellent source of fibre and vitamin C, we think they pair beautifully with new season asparagus and watercress. 

Watercress 

Bite into a crunchy sprig of watercress and you’ll discover the peppery punch it packs. Rich in vitamin C, calcium, iron and folic acid, watercress contains anti-cancer phytochemicals such as beta-carotene and flavonoids and can help improve liver and kidney function. Add watercress to your salads, soup and sandwiches. It’s a super versatile salad leaf that should be treated as more than a pretty garnish.  

Spring onions 

A good source of vitamins B and C, folate and fibre. Onions are relatively high in flavonoids, an antioxidant that is thought to protect against cancer and heart disease. Raw, spring onions have a subtle sharpness but cook them and you tease out their natural sweetness. We love them griddled or barbequed with a romesco sauce. 

Rhubarb 

Flavourful field-grown varieties of this vegetable (not fruit!) are now in season. Packed with fibre, its sharpness works extremely well with meat and oily fish dishes. But nothing beats a deliciously comforting a bowl of crumble. Try our recipe for rhubarb and banana crumble for a lower-calorie take on this classic. 

5 Mental Health Questions to Ask Yourself

While many of us will book a doctors appointment when we’re feeling unwell, it is less common for us to check in with our mental health. Give yourself a daily check-up by asking yourself five questions.

 

How am I feeling today?

Stress, anxiety and worry not only manifest mentally but physically too. Headaches, nausea and dizziness may be signs of stress that you may have overlooked. Stress may also take a little time to present itself since we often notice it we are physically tired. Think about scheduling in 10-minute time-outs during your day. Use these times to sit still, relax or to simply breathe; taking time to notice the breath. 

 

Whats taking up most of my headspace?

Whether it be difficulties in working from home, finding activities to keep your little ones occupied, or wondering where your next meal is coming from, having many things circulating in your mind may mean your arent fully available to take care of yourself. Social distancing doesn’t help in these situations. Ask for help when you need it. A call to a friend or family member can really help you to feel more supported and connected to others.

Have I eaten well today?

Nutrition is vital to support both mind and body. Ask yourself if youve eaten well today. Notice any changes to your appetite or cravings creeping in, they may be a sign that your body is lacking certain vitamins and minerals. A low appetite or comfort eating can also be signs of depression. 

How well am I sleeping?

Sleep is hailed as one of the best things for our physical and our mental health. Perhaps you are going to bed at a normal time but struggling to drift off and stay asleep throughout the night. Worries ad stresses, as well as your day routine (food, alcohol consumption and physical activity) all impact the way in which we sleep. We suggest that you routinely avoid screen time one hour before bed, sip on a warm drink and write down your worries and stresses before getting into bed.

What have I done today that brings me joy?

Do one thing each day that you love. Whether it be walking your dog, speaking to your best friend or baking a cake. Regardless of what else is on your to-do’ list, we encourage you to add your something’ to the list as a priority.