Healthy Snacks for Work & the War on Vending Machines
The war on obesity has turned its eye towards vending machines. Rightfully so considering that the average vending machine is stocked with nutrient deficient, sugar- and fat-laden junk. But, will such measures really improve the eating habits of American consumers or help us develop a sustainable dietary philosophy that promotes lasting health and vitality?
According to a new FDA proposal under the guidance of President Obama’s health care overhaul, vending machines operators will be required to “clearly and prominently” display calorie information for items made available in their machines. The Huffington Post estimates that this proposed mandate will apply to approximately 5 million vending machines operated by 10,800 companies nationwide.
I would like to believe that such regulations have been proposed with the best of intentions, but my concern is if this information will really matter in dietary decision-making of “everyday” consumers or contribute to reductions in rates of obesity and lifestyle disease. In a society dependent upon speed and convenience, I believe that regular vending machine patrons are not making their eating decisions with physical and mental health in mind and such information would largely be ignored. The majority of us know that the processed foods sold in vending machines do not promote health and we understand that such decisions may ultimately lead to illness and disease.
A couple of recent studies confirm the notion that posted calorie information is either ignored or fails to generate systematic improvements in consumer behavior. The first study, published in the online journal Health Affairs, “did not detect a change in calories purchased after the introduction of calorie labeling.” The second study, published in the Journal of Business Research, shows that although caloric labeling changes the perception of a foods healthfulness in men and women, only women modify purchase behavior based on such information.
In an attempt to extrapolate practical advice from the apparently grim reality of caloric labeling, improving health through better dietary decision-making becomes a matter of planning and preparation. We patronize vending machines against our better judgment because we lack quick and healthy alternatives. However, if we develop the habit of planning for instances where healthy options may not be available and learn how to prepare healthful snacks we will be less compelled to purchase unhealthy foods.
Fortunately, planning and preparing nutrient dense healthy snacks for work and healthy snacks for our kids is probably one of the simplest healthy habits to establish. Dedicating an hour a week to preparing snacks that are compact and stay fresh for days without refrigeration can pay huge dividends in the quest for absolute health and wellness.
One of my absolute favorite healthy snacks to have on hand in case a hunger emergency strikes is a ½ cup of the following Portable Granola:
- ½ cup organic pineapple juice
- 2 ripe bananas
- ½ cup honey
- 1 cup sliced almonds
- 1 cup cashew pieces
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 3 cups gluten-free rolled oats
- ½ cup raisins or other dried fruit
- Heat oven to 350 and lightly coat a large cookie sheet with coconut oil cooking spray or parchment paper.
- Place juice, bananas and honey in a food processor and blend until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl.
- Stir in almonds, cashews, cinnamon, salt and oats and let soak for 10 minutes.
- Spread evenly on prepared cookie sheet and bake on the center rack for 15 minutes.
- Stir mixture thoroughly and cook for another 10 minutes.
- Stir one last time, add dried fruit and cook for an additional 5 minutes or until oats are golden. Remove from oven and let cook.
- Package ¼ or ½ cup of granola in snack baggies or containers and store in the fridge for 1 week. Granola will last approximately 3 days at room temperature.
Portable Granola also makes an excellent breakfast when combined with your favorite milk alternative and heated for 2 to 3 minutes.
A few more of my favorite quick snacks from Vibrant Wellness Journal:
Planning and preparing healthful snacks is essential if we want to avoid the vending machine conundrum, develop a positive dietary philosophy and experience lasting health and vitality. Take charge in your journey towards health and embrace healthy snacking!
Image courtesy of Matthew Lovitt