Extraordinary Snack Co The Carolinas Equestrian 01We all know it is important to eat a healthy, balanced diet.  That used to mean three square meals and perhaps a mid-day snack.  But, in today’s busy, techy fast-paced world, chances are many of us rarely are making time for the sit-down meal on the day to day.  We savor special events and holidays with family & friends, but when it comes to our daily lives, between work and our passions, Americans are becoming Snackified!  Now more than ever, we are looking for tasty treats that are packed full of nutrients.  We are eating snacks to achieve maximum nutrition while satisfying our taste buds … on the go.

Extraordinary Snack Co The Carolinas Equestrian 02 The Hartman Group’s “The Future of Snacking 2016” report found that 91% of consumers snack multiple times throughout the day and that, “snacking now accounts for half of all eating occasions as America’s consumers say that snacking is essential to daily nutrition.” 

I am a big fan of snacking, and as a former Licensed Massage Therapist, I often relied on healthy snacking to get me through the day.  Eating a meal between massages was not only stressful, but often made me sleepy.  My body was ready to rest and digest, not give an hour and a half deep tissue massage!

I found that eating what I call “functional foods” worked for me for 3 reasons:

1. ENERGY … I needed power to provide the best therapy to my clients.
2. NUTRIENT DENSITY … a small quantity of food provided me with the nutrients a well-balanced diet required.
3. SATIETY … whatever I was eating needed to taste good, so I didn’t feel deprived. A feeling of deprivation can lead to a binge on salty, sugary or fatty foods later on.

Extraordinary Snack Co The Carolinas Equestrian 04 Functional foods, in this context, are whole, minimally processed foods that we eat for specific, targeted outcomes.  For instance, if I need energy, I am going to look for a complex carbohydrate (fruit, vegetable, some grains) but since I am highly sensitive to gluten, I don’t choose grains.  Also, I need something to keep my sugar stable, so I am looking for fat, fiber, and protein to slow the breakdown and absorption of sugars from the carbohydrate to avoiding spiking my sugar (which gives you that sleepy, hungover feeling).  The perfect snack for in between massages became nuts & fruit for me.  This would explain the combinations you often find in trail mix for hikers.  I even developed my own recipes using soaked nuts and seeds mixed with various fruits to achieve unique nutrient and flavor profiles.  They became my fuel for workouts, massage time and travel.  Nuts & seeds contain an incredible array of essential vitamins and minerals, healthy fats and protein.

Extraordinary Snack Co The Carolinas Equestrian 05 As horse riders are athletes, healthy eating and staying fit is high priority.  Equestrians must maintain a healthy weight and develop coordination along with core strength to ride safely and with accuracy.  The physical demands of maintaining a horse alone demand good health.  Working in a barn strengthens muscles and requires cardiovascular health.  I, myself, am a rider in pleasure alone.  But even for this, one must be flexible enough to reach the stirrup!  Then you must have enough leg strength to push up.  It is a lovely experience, and one must have some level of fitness to enjoy the thrill and profound calm that comes with riding.

Eating for peak performance
– Choose whole, unprocessed foods as much as possible
– Eat a wide variety of foods with different colors and textures
– Choose Low GI carbohydrates for lasting energy and serious health benefits
– Avoid ‘bad’ fats by steering clear of most pastries, cakes, biscuits, meat pies, sausage rolls, chips, fried foods, visible fats on meat and hydrogenated fats
– Eat the recommended amount of protein for your body weight and choose lean sources
– Drink plenty of fluids – mainly water – and avoid excessive intake of caffeine and alcohol.

Harnessing the power of snacking, getting Snackified, is easier than ever before.  There are so many healthy snacks available today.  There are a few things to remember when sourcing healthy snacks to fuel your workouts, your ride, and your barn time.

Extraordinary Snack Co The Carolinas Equestrian 03

1. Always check your label! If you are looking for healthy, what you don’t want is high-fructose corn syrup, artificial colors or flavors, fillers, chemicals or preservatives.
2. Look for clean foods, which means simple ingredients you can recognize.
3. Avoid, when at all possible, hydrogenated soybean oil. Many of our “healthy” choices are laden with these and have been touted as being better for us because they contain high levels of Omega-6 oils.  Omega-6 is great for keeping inflammation in the body low.  However, it there is too much in our system, it can actually encourage inflammation and can create Omega-3 deficiency.
4. Know your body. Knowing how we respond to different types of nutrient is vital to reaching optimal health & vitality.  There is no medical journal, study, or meal plan that was developed just for you.  A touch of mindfulness before, during, and after meals can often help us to identify foods that work and foods that we would feel better without.

Erica opened The Extraordinary Snack Co in April of this year.  Her flagship product, Banana Not Bread, saw her through 24 years of Massage Therapy and now she’s sharing it with the world.  Erica hopes to continue her passion to support healthy lifestyles in her quest to create snacks with exceptional nutrition and flavor.  You can find her products in Charlotte, NC, at Reid’s Fine Foods, and through the Charlotte’s healthy meal prep company, The Blossoming Kitchen.  You can find more information about Erica’s snacks on the company website, www.extraordinarysnacks.com.


Photos courtesy of The Extraordinary Snack Co.