Smart Snacking

What do you do when you feel like you’re dragging your feet and its hours until your next meal?  If your answer has something to do with caffeine, a vending machine or nibbling on some of the chocolates or cookies that are ubiquitous this time of year, I encourage you turn over a new leaf and try thoughtful snacking instead. This is a sustainable way to boost your energy and keep you going for the long run.

The key is how you snack, not what you snack on. When you feel like reaching for something to munch on, check in with your brain to verify that you are actually hungry- not just bored, thirsty or tired. If that is the case, act accordingly instead of eating. Making the effort to take a deep breath and listen to what your body is telling you will give you more confidence and control over your actions.

Photo courtesy of Appletree Staging blog

As far as the snack goes, avoid very sugary foods and those with many ingredients on their label. Try choosing nutrient-rich snacks one with fiber that will healthfully release energy into your bloodstream at a steady rate. A fun way to do this is to combine at least two food groups together, packing the most nutrition in per bite.

Here are some snacks I like:

✴ Whole wheat pita chips & cottage cheese, drizzled with a little ho

ney & cinnamon

✴ Cucumber slices with hummus & olives

✴ Yogurt with some peanuts and grapes mixed in

✴ Celery sticks with natural peanut butter & dried cranberries

✴ Whole wheat tortilla with salsa & black beans

✴ Apple slices with cheddar cheese on wheat crackers

✴ Homemade “trail mix” made by combining nuts, raisins & whole grain cereal

Homemade peanut butter is easy to make! Photo courtesy of

Once you decide on the snack your body is asking for, prepare it and put it on a plate. Do not eat your snack standing up or in the drivers seat! Sit down and enjoy it in a civilized manner, appreciating it and the little break you’re allowing yourself to have from whatever is on your mind. Eating a well rounded snack in a calm environment will reduce your stress levels.  Although thoughtful snacking may be more difficult to do away from home or in a noisy place, it is worthwhile to improvise with your surroundings and find a way to treat yourself right (carrying basic utensils and a key-chain knife prepares you for hungry situations whenever they hit). At first, thoughtful snacking is a little more difficult than scarfing on a bag of chips, but with some practice your mind and body will feel the difference and thank you for making the effort in the long run.

A version of this post originally appeared on The Fresh Dish in 2010.


Irish Soda Bread Recipe – An Excellent Easy Bread Recipe

Irish soda bread is a staple in my household – not because we’re Irish, but because it is so easy and a total crowd-pleaser. As far as I understand, it is not really an Irish food but an American invention reminiscent of wheaten bread, I gleaned from my real Irish neighbor as he nibbled on the batch I made this afternoon. This recipe freezes well and thus makes a great all-around snack, for hikes and afternoon coffee breaks at work.  After cooling, wrap individual pieces in aluminum foil. No need to reheat in the oven, just let thaw for a few hours before eating.

The key to cooking the perfect chewy, crunchy, crisp Irish Soda Bread is the pan. While any size or shape glass dish or brownie-type pan will do, a stoneware baking dish is the best because it cooks evenly and perfectly. This recipe is an adaptation from Mary Burke’s Irish Soda Bread recipe published in the Boston Globe Taste section in 2006 and the King Arthur Flour’s 200th Anniversary edition cookbook recipe.  It yields one large loaf (9×5) or about 8 small loaves.

Mixing the irish soda bread dough can be done by hand or with a mixer


  • 8 Tablespoons butter @ room temperature
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar + little more for sprinkling
  • ¾ teaspoons baking soda
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ½ cups plain yogurt
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 c. dried fruit (a mix of raisins and cranberries is my favorite)
For best results, bake the irish soda bread inside a clay baking dish


Set oven to 350 F.
Butter or spray the baking dish(es) with canola oil

In large mixer or bowl: mix the flours, 1/4 cup sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix well. Cut the butter into small pieces and mix into the dry mixture with fingertips.

In another bowl: stir together water, yogurt and egg.
Mix the wet and dry mixtures together well, stir in the dried fruit.

Transfer to pans, dividing evenly, sprinkle tops with a little sugar.
Bake 40 min or until tops are golden, and a knife or toothpick comes out clean.

Originally posted on on March 15, 2010

Healthy Drinks Demo, Medford MA

                  Syrah teaching kids about sugar content in soda at Medford Farmers Market                

Syrah represented Cooking Matters Massachsetts at the Medford Farmers Market on August 11, 2011.  With the help of with Nicole Maddox and Mimi Delgazzi, she taught market shoppers about how the sugar content of soft drinks and offered samples of healthy drink alternatives like sun tea, Nicoles amazing horchata (recipe beIow) and 100% fruit juice spritzers.

Nicole Maddox's amazing, refreshing Horchata recipe
Nicole Maddox and Mimi Delgazzi (not pictured here) helping teach the kids about healthy drinks
The kids enjoyed samples of healthy drinks