As a private practice dietitian, one of the main concerns clients come to me with is what they see as an uncontrollable sweet tooth. They’re trying to cut back on sugar, but the sweet cravings are intense!
It may seem obvious, but one of the main things that fuels sugar cravings is low blood sugar. Our body works to keep blood sugar within a narrow range, so when it dips, the body wants to bring it back up – and fast! We experience this as a craving, often powerful and maybe for, oh I don’t know, a triple chocolate chunk brownie dipped in icing. No judgment! Of course, it’s perfectly fine to enjoy sweets, but if low blood sugar is triggering your craving rather than simply a desire to enjoy something sweet, sugar isn’t the solution. It will just send your blood sugar on a roller coaster ride that’ll lead to even more cravings.
I see this most often in clients who try to follow a strict diet or are too busy to eat during the day. They go too long without eating because they’re afraid of the extra calories or simply can’t find time for nourishment. Or, maybe they do snack between meals, but choose something too light, like an apple or small handful of nuts. Nutritious? Sure, but it doesn’t last long!
An easy rule of thumb for a snack that will last is to pair a carbohydrate food, preferably one high in fiber, with another food that contains fat and/or protein. The carbohydrate provides your body with the glucose it needs for energy. Fat and protein both promote fullness and help slow the release of glucose into your bloodstream, keeping blood sugar steady until your next meal.
A few examples of carbohydrate snack foods include whole grain crackers, fresh or dried fruit, brown rice cakes, tortilla chips, and popcorn. Examples of fat/protein choices include cheese, yogurt, nuts/nut butter, avocado, and hard boiled eggs. For a well balanced snack, you might enjoy goat cheese spread over whole grain crackers, brown rice cakes topped with avocado slices and hot sauce, fresh fruit paired with almond butter, or one of my personal favorites, tortilla chips and hummus.
Did you know tortilla chips are actually a whole grain? Also, hummus contains healthy fats from olive oil and tahini (or in this recipe, peanut butter), as well as plant based protein from garbanzo beans. This recipe for Asian peanut hummus is a fun spin on traditional hummus, packed with bright and fresh Asian flavors from peanut butter, soy sauce, ginger and herbs. You might want to double up the recipe, especially if there’s more than just you in the house because this snack has a way of disappearing!
Spicy Asian Peanut Hummus
- 1 14-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
- 3 tablespoons peanut butter
- 1 serrano chili, seeded and minced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon honey
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil or peanut oil
- Sliced green onions, cilantro, chopped toasted peanuts and seeded, minced chili, for garnish
- 1 tablespoon of sriracha (optional)
- In a food processor, blend garbanzo beans, peanut butter, chili, garlic, ginger, soy sauce and honey until starting to get creamy.
- Slowly stream in oil with the motor running, stopping to scrape down sides as needed.
- Season with salt and black pepper, and sriracha (if desired) to taste.
- Garnish as desired. Serve with tortilla chips, brown rice crackers or crudités.