Thursday, February 4, 2016

Current Snack Time Loves

Whew. It has been a hot minute since I've been on here and boy, have I missed you guys! January is always one of the busiest months in higher education and this last month did not disappoint on the crazy factor. That being said, I've been a little terrible about neglecting my little blog baby, as well as all of you and I promise I'm working on planning ahead so there's not radio silence for weeks on end. But as I so sweetly tell my overwhelmed students, sometimes, life happens. And boy, did it. I was offered a new position yesterday in my current department after interviewing the last few weeks and so I know that planning ahead is going to be key in all areas of my life in making this transition a smooth one. And being prepared. Which is a lot of what this post is about.  

While life has been busy these last few weeks, I've really gotten into a new little groove with my food routine and I've been actively searching out and trying new and different products that are low carb but also are a step outside of the norm of what I typically reach for. Let's be serious, I, like most of you, go for quick and easy. When it comes to low carb snacks, especially, that means that I alternate between the same few snacks that I've reached for consistently over the last 11 months. But at the end of the day, there's gotta be something more interesting than smoked turkey sausage and string cheese, am I right? I thought so, too.

With a new year brings new excitement for the things to come and I've been setting goals and am particularly motivated with the fresh start of 2016. Last year was nothing short of amazing both in my personal life and on the health journey front, and I want to ensure that I can keep the motivation and excitement fresh. And really, nothing is more refreshing than a blank slate in my mind. So, with that, the first week of January I set out to find new foods to try, different snacks to take to work to keep things interesting, and I've come up with a handful of items that I never even knew existed, are fairly inexpensive and keep me intrigued enough in what I brought to snack on to keep me away from the campus bookstore. Where there are Cheetos. And Little Debbie. #hateherloveher

The college where I work is pretty much surrounded by every food option known to mankind. In a 2 mile radius, I could get a kolache, a Whataburger, life changing chicken fingers and fries, the best coconut shrimp known to man and about 5 bazillion other delicious and totally not on plan options. I have always been a "bring my lunch to work" kinda girl for reasons that I honestly can't even tell you. Even before I cared about what I put in my mouth, I brought my food with me probably because we always have leftovers on hand and I can't be bothered with parking on a college campus more than absolutely necesssary. And the middle of the day.. #itaintnojoke 

And especially since starting my weight loss journey, it's been incredibly important for me to be prepared. I've been starving at work with a debit card and cash before and if I'm not prepared, it means the possibility of making a bad choice. But there's nothing worse than that FOMO (fear of missing out) which is real sometimes when my co-workers are munching on free pizza or a tray of amazing, homemade desserts from the pastry arts students.. and I'm over here gnawing on my veggies.  Well, maybe it's not a fear of, but I just loathe missing out on something really good if I'm eating something really boring or not tasty.. it's just a recipe for me to be mad about it. And if I'm mad about it and my mind is set on my option being ridiculous, again, another recipe for disaster. So, really, I feel like I just have a hatred of the MO. (Is that a thing?) 
Sometimes, it just is really, really hard. And annoying. And typically, if I'm starving, annoyed at my lame food option and smelling fresh pizza, bad things can happen. I just know myself.

But these snacks.. are incredible. And I'm pretty sure there's something for everyone. Unless you have a sweet tooth, in which case.. I'm so sorry. But check out my low carb peanut butter cookies because they would be perfect! I haven't found many "go-to" sweet snacks that are easy to get a hold of. Unless my dear friend Lisa comes to see me with a low carb lemon wafer. AKA Heaven.

I found these cheese whisps at Costco and I can't get enough of them. I pack a handful or 2 in a little baggie for when I might want something that tastes like a chip and I love them. In the way of cheese chips, I've tried them all and these are my favorite. I've had the fresh ones from Whole Foods and Central Market and find that too many of them are too "cheesy" and not enough chip-like.. well, these hit it right on the mark. They're good on their own, they're good with a dip. They're just GOOD. 

How handy are these little guys? I found these at World Market and they were very inexpensive. I'm sure it's cheaper to buy a jar of olives and distribute them in a little baggie, but what's the fun in that? If I can't have free pizza on campus, I'm gonna be munching on the cutest little guilt free snacks! And they don't disappoint on the taste factor. 

I was super surprised at how much I liked these. Absolutely no carbs and very cheesy in flavor, but they have more of a crunch to them than the whisps. They're great for on the go, they will tide you over, I just really enjoy them. 

And these.. are so good! If you like green olives, you will love these! I have always been an olive girl and completely forgot about them since going low carb until a friend of mine mentioned how great they'd be as a substitute for chips or something salty. I have SUCH a salt tooth and these are super convenient, super portable, not messy and have a really good flavor. And even better- I don't have the guilt! The flavor is amazing and can we TALK about how adorable the packaging is? Sucker for cute packaging.. right here. 

By this point, if you're not into cheese snacks or aren't picking up that I'm so desperately looking for a healthier Cheeto substitute.. then we may need to re-evaluate or relationship. :) I am, and will always be, a lover of all things cheese. I'm really trying to limit my cheese intake but I can't promise that I haven't substituted real cheese for these crunchy cheese snacks. These guys have blown UP all over my Instagram feed and after the 52258th person mentioned these, I decided I had to try them, too. Immediately. I found these at World Market, too, but now every time I ask them if they have Moon Cheese, they look at me like I really do live in outer space. And this is what my people eat. And what in the heck am I talking about? So I'm assuming that was a one time thing. 

But it's okay. They're worth it. And they live up to the hype! I wasn't a fan of the gouda and I've never really cared for pepper jack, but those are options, too, if cheddar isn't your thing. 

They're crunchy, they're cheddar-y, and they're freakishly addictive. At first bite, I thought "Huh, interesting.." and then I tried another and another and another.. you get the picture. If you love crunchy snacks and you're looking for a good salty snack substitute, you must give these a try! They're hard to find but word on the street is you can find them at Starbucks. 

Sooooo, these veggie chips are INCREDIBLE! And only 2 net carbs for 16 chips! They're a heftier chip, which I love, and although they're great on their own, they would be fabulous with a homemade veggie dip of some kind. Holy moley, they are goooood. I picked these up at World Market, as well, #surprisesurprise and brought them home to a very, very happy husband who also brings a bag to work with him to munch on during the week. He was skeptical, so that's saying a lot. 

I love that it's all natural ingredients, no crap, no chemicals, just veggies. And I'm slightly obsessed with them. I found a parsnip chip that this brand also makes and they don't disappoint, either. The parsnip chips actually taste like a thicker, slightly drier potato chip, if you can believe it.

If you buy one thing from this little list of my new loves, buy THESE! You will adore them. Low carb or not, I would have eaten them at my highest weight and loved them still. That good. 

And again with the cute packaging.. those names! 

I've always fancied myself a kale chip. Homemade, store bought, I love them all and always have. And while I've only made them at home a few times (and they're so easy) when life is busy, sometimes it just makes more sense to buy them. The only issue I have with the store bought versions is that so often they are little carb bombs! And if you're not a Cheeto or a Boulder Canyon potato chip, you're not worthy of being a little carb bomb. Especially if you're kale. #sorrynotsorry
I love truffle anything and although these aren't too truffle-y, they hit all the right notes and are simple and perfect. 
I picked these up at Sprouts and have loved adding these to my little snack rotation. 

While spending time in Virginia with family and getting down to my southern roots last Fall, I tried fresh pork skins for the first time at a little Fall festival in a small town high school parking lot..And sort of have been in love ever since. It's hard to find the perfect pork rinds, though. The ones at the grocery store can be too "barnyard-y" if ya know what I mean, and really, the best ones I've ever had were from that very same Fall festival where 4 southern farmers who may or may not have been wearing tank tops and overalls in 40 degree weather, stood over the fryer and made them and seasoned them while they were fresh and hot. 

But these... are a close second. I love Central Market and found them there. Not a dud to be found in the entire bag and the salsa seasoned pork rinds really pack a punch. 

And if you are lucky enough to have an HEB or a Central Market close to you, pair my favorite pork rinds with my very favorite CARB FREE, all natural queso and have a party. And thank me later. Because this combo is to die for. 

But really, that queso is liquid gold. And is amazing on everything. From pulled pork to eggs.. it's good on anything and we add it to everything in this house. And sometimes, we just add it to a spoon. Hands down my very favorite queso of all time. Which is saying a lot since I feel like I have a PhD in chips and queso.

I found these little gems about 4 or 5 months in to going low-carb at my local Central Market. And while they do have 3 net carbs and there is brown rice in them- which I try and stay away from- on the days where I need to meet my carb count or I just want a crunchy treat, these have been a go-to. 
 I SO enjoy having one every so often. 

I love all of the flavors: chive, strawberry, cinnamon and cheese. They're all good alone but a smear of cream cheese sends them over the top. With the cinnamon kind, I sprinkle additional cinnamon on top of some cream cheese to put them over the edge and I love them.

The cheese flavor honestly tastes like Cheetos Puffs. Not even kidding. But without all the grease and chemicals, obviously. And, sadly, no finger licking. #iknowimnotalone

I have loved having one of these for lunch with a teaspoon or 2 of ricotta smeared over top, some salt and fresh cracked pepper, a few slices of deli chicken or turkey and a few cherry tomatoes on top. Without a doubt, my most favorite new lunch or snack that I've added these last few weeks. It's such a treat and SO incredibly filling. 

And while this isn't a snack (how weird that would be) it is certainly one of my current loves and something that I have so immensely enjoyed. I recently put this in my spice rotation and it has amped up every meal I've added it to. Salmon? It goes over the top. Chicken? Off the charts. 

It's amazing and fresh and herby and chivey and garlicy.. and I'm not even certain that I'm using real words, but you get what I mean. It is happiness in a jar. #justwentthere

All of the herbs in this little jar are perfect and it's just a marriage of incredible flavors that make any simple, run of the mill meal truly special and delightful. I have SO enjoyed this and am already planning on running out before it's gone to have the big jar on stand by in my spice cabinet.  

So there y'all have it! My current snack favorites. What fun snacks have you tried recently? Let me know in the comments below if there's something I need to try or if you try anything I mentioned. 

Happy Thursday, my beauties! Make it wonderful. 

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