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Cake is bad for you

I've started to eat more cake.

For some reason I'm getting hungry earlier. I never eat breakfast, but instead break my fast at around 11:30 with a meal from the canteen. But the past 2 weeks I've gotten hungry around 4:30, so I go and buy a cake. It's pretty much that or a chocolate bar or crisps, which I think are worse.

So is cake a reasonable alternative? Or perhaps I should take something extra to work to snack on?

The problem is, in my local mid-sized supermarket, I always struggle to find "picnic food". Sure, they sell sanwiches and overpriced fruit salads, but they don't do samosas or nibbles like that. The best solution I've found is bread rolls and humous, but it gets old fast.

What are your ideas for portable, easy snacks. And I know someone's going to say fruit, but short of oranges I don't like them much.

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  1. Cake is an excellent alternative, especially a large slice of chocolate layer. It's quite high in vitamins B, D, plus niacin.

    1. Peanut (or other nut) butter on whole wheat, with some jam. Very portable, keeps well. Nut butters are the best thing for satiety.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Karl S

        I'm with Karl here...sounds like you definitely need more good-quality protein, either derived from lean meat or non-meat sources...you might also consider sardines or kippers...maybe a bean salad if you don't like fish....protein will stay with you longer. If nut butters aren't going to work, keep a can of almonds or mixed nuts in your desk. Soop, there are so many threads going here on Chowhound about healthy snacks, too!

        1. re: Karl S

          I've seen single serving size packets of peanut butter. Good for people who can't be trusted around a whole jar.

          Can you prepare something at home and bring to work? Do you have a fridge or microwave?
          Some ideas that have worked for me..
          - small container of broth/soup
          - celery sticks with pb/hummus
          - homemade granola
          - yogurt
          - cold roasted veggies

          1. re: Karl S

            Peanut butter is the perfect food - seriously. Very high in protein per serving, reasonable amount of fat and calories it's got all the makings of a nutritious meal. Especially if its all natural. Almond butter is delicious too. Sandwiches, on pretzels, celery, crackers, etc. AND it's got a long and stable shelf life.

            Nutella would satisfy your love of chocolate and will add a hazelnut twist. Put it on toast, make nutella and peanut butter sammies, its good on crackers, etc.

            If it's baked goods you crave, what about banana nut bread? Substitute half the white flour w/ whole wheat or graham flour. Any quickbreads would be easy to whip up and you could portion and freeze them easily. For a cake, try catskinner cake. It has lots of carrots, nuts and coconut in it and is sweet but good w/ a simple glaze icing. Here's a link to a recipe: http://www.tastebook.com/recipes/9445...

            What about carob spread? Tastes kind of like chocolate and is good on the things mentioned above. Carob is often used as a chocolate substitute. It's all-natural and requires less sugar to taste sweet. You can find it in baked good too - check out your closest natural foods store.

            1. re: lynnlato

              HI Lynn - I love, love , LOVE peanut butter, but just for the sake of argument...i don't think peanut butter is a particulary healthy food.

              Very high protein? no. only 7 grams in a 2 Tbls serving and it's not a complete protein, so if you don't get a complimentary protein ...it's not usable.

              reasonable fat? only if you consider around 75% calories from fat reasonable.

              I've weighed 5 pounds more than I wanted to most of my life...and I blame it pretty much on peanut butter ;-)

              1. re: danna

                danna, as you can see, I'm not lynn...but peanut butter DEPENDING on what kind you're eating can be very healthy...and in what quantities, of course. The kind of fat found in NATURAL peanut butter is monounsaturated...pretty healthy...here's more in case you are interested...I'll leave the rest to lynn and apologies for butting in:

          2. Hmm, when you say "cake" what do you mean?

            Depending on the type of cake, I would say that a chocolate bar would probably be the "healthier" alternative.

            Why not just try crackers and cheese, or a handful of nuts, or an energy bar (like Clifs)?

            1. Thanks guys. I do have quite a high protien diet I guess.

              I see some good tips here, like youghurt.
              Bread and cheese could be a good move I suppose :/ or even bread and butter.

              I'm not a huge fan of peanut butter, but am I to believe there are other nut butters?

              As Ipsedixit says, maybe I could buy a big bag of mixed nuts (salty though - and it's only way I like them)

              And I have some homemade granola in a mason jar - how long does it last for?

              22 Replies
              1. re: Soop

                Soop, if you like salted nuts but are a little concerned about fully salted nuts, then maybe try "lightly salted" nuts...Walgreen's, for example, sells lightly salted mixed nuts that I buy constantly to keep here in our work area so that we have a healthier alternative at 4 p.m. and co-workers are hungry.

                1. re: Val

                  Aww that's sweet of you!

                  But I'm not in America, and I'd not seen lightly salted nuts over here. Pistachios are amazing and probably less salty, but they're too much £

                  1. re: Soop

                    You could buy raw nuts and toast your own in the oven with just a *little* salt and oil (not hard at all), or, why not buy one bag of unsalted nuts and one of salted and mix them? Easy peasy.

                    Also, do you have a microwave? You could bring the fixings for quesadillas....maybe some broccoli, low fat cheese, and whole wheat tortillas or pita pockets.

                    1. re: Soop

                      You should try "ethnic shops" as sources for Pistacios, you might find they are less £ in shops that cater to people from pistachio-producing countries. Quite a few Iranians in the UK, for one group.

                      If you don't live in a large city, try to make a trip to such places when you are in one.

                      1. re: Soop

                        You can also take salted nuts put some on a clean, dry towel or paper towels, bundle them up and roll them between your hands. That takes off a great deal of the salt but they retain a nice salty flavor from the roasting.

                        1. re: weezycom

                          yep, did this recently with some salted almonds I bought recently because they were on sale and it was either the roasted, salted or raw unsalted. I rubbed the salt off them and they were very good. The raw unsalted almonds I just can't eat...it's like eating cardboard.

                    2. re: Soop

                      Granola will last a month or so if kept tightly sealed in a non-porous container (not plastic). Fresh food tastes better than stale food, so don't buy or make more than you'll eat in a couple of weeks. Granola made with coconut, nuts and seeds will go stale faster (anything containing oils will oxidize, or degrade, when exposed to air) so keep your stock rotated.

                      Other good portable foods include meat sandwiches brought from home, salads (not just lettuce, but any raw veg can be made into a salad--pick your favorite veggies, slice & dice, add dressing/seasonings) fruits, soups (my favorite--brought in a wide mouth vaccum jar, or Thermos), If you have a lunch room can you make simple things like melted cheese on toast? Popcorn?

                      Sweets like cake & cookies or biscuits have plenty of calories for a quick pick-me-up but are loaded with "empty" calories which deliver little but carbohydrates from refined sources. They have little staying power, are hard on your digestive system, and can lead to all sorts of systemic illnesses over time (diabetes, heart trouble) if over-indulged in.

                      One overlooked facet of nutrition is deficiencies in basic vitamins and micro-nutients. Eating whole foods as found in nature as opposed to food manufactured from refined ingredients (cake) delivers a more balanced fuel to run your body and brain. Try to avoid extra sugars which are added to everyting these days--even canned vegetables.

                      Sounds as though you are looking for prepared food at your supermarket. Do you do any food preparation at home? Do you cook dinner at home? Leftovers from well-balanced meals make great snacks, and are a good way to keep your refrigerator cleaned out.

                      1. re: toodie jane

                        Thankyou Jane! I tend to cook more on the weekend, but I never eat pre-packaged meals.

                        Looks like my granola is dead.

                        I've just seen that work seels youghurts so I'm enjoying one now. Don't know how filling it will be.

                        Also, I don't normally eat a dessert, so I guess it's not as bad as for those who do. We'll see how this youghurt goes!

                        *edit* Delicious, but not filling. Although I'm certainly less hungry. Wonder if it counts as one of my five a day? Probably good for my insides.

                        1. re: Soop

                          are you willing to do some extra cooking on the weekends to keep for the week?

                          try baking some frittatas in muffin tins, then wrapping individually and freezing. take them out of the freezer on your way to work, then by the time you're ready to eat, they'll be defrosted.

                          or, bake some cocoa muffins with hazelnuts (for protein)

                          the same can be done with oatmeal -- freeze and take out to defrost while you work.

                          how about whole wheat tortillas spread with a little cream cheese (for protein) and jam, then rolled up! or take hard-boiled eggs, and slice then roll up in the same tortillas.

                          a couscous salad is also super easy to pre-prep, since it only require hot liquid, then five minutes to sit before fluffing and adding ingredients (try cheeses or tofu or spices or whatever you like - i make sweet couscous sometimes with a little sweetener, lemon juice, spices or even basil)

                          1. re: Soop

                            I have the same problem that yogurt with fruit, by itself, isn't very filling. Get some fresh granola or some muesli, and add a couple of heaping spoonfuls to the yogurt - the whole grain bulks up the yogurt and helps to satisfy your appetite better.

                        2. re: Soop

                          Yes, almond butter, cashew butter, et cet.

                          1. re: Karl S

                            Never seen those. Wonder if it's a US thing?

                            1. re: Soop

                              I don't think so, I've seen that Jillian McKeith on BBC America with them. I a regular American market they are often found in the health food section.

                              1. re: Soop

                                I haven't been to the UK in a while, but I definitely see them in continental Europe, in natural-foods shops.

                                Don't you crave a lovely old farmhouse cheddar and some water biscuits?

                                I confess the c**skinner cake looks very good - I'd cut the sugar more still, as you are better off sweetening with fruit as in that recipe. But such a horrific name!

                                Just noticed one tiny sentence in your OP: "I never eat breakfast". Perhaps you should. Not a full cooked breakfast with bacon and eggs and beans, but something nutritious.

                                I actually did the "making porridge in a crockpot" experiment, and it came out really well. You need slow-cooking porridge ingredients, such as steel-cut oats or at least the non-instant rolled grains - I did a mixture of oats, rye, and spelt. I make it savoury, with a bit of salt, bay leaves, aromatic spices.

                                Or anything with protein and fibre. It needn't be a lot.

                                1. re: Soop

                                  Hey Soop,

                                  I'm in the UK now, and you can definitely buy almond butter and other nut butters here. Check places like Planet Organic or Earth Natural Foods (in London). Whereabouts do you live?

                                  I think cheesecake17 is right that Marks and Spencers has lightly salted nuts - they might even have nut butters for that matter (or possibly Waitrose does too...might be worth re-posting a question about all of this on the UK board)

                                  The local off-license near me has lots of Persian products....and they have three pistachio flavors: salted, lightly salted, and spicy. They also have plenty of other nuts...if you don't like too much salt, then you could also buy plain nuts and then make some kind of mix that you put on them (for example, the recipe suggested Foodie in Friedberg below).

                                  I often face the same problem as you: I want a snack in the afternoon, and the easiest thing to find is cake or crisps. A lot of these suggestions are quite helpful for me too!

                                  1. re: Dave MP

                                    Hey Dave :) I'm in Bristol, but I can easily run by Waitrose tonight.

                                    I forgot it's St Particks day today!

                              2. re: Soop

                                there's almond butter and cashew butter to consider. a bit more expensive than pb but soo much tastier, and usually no additives.

                                i like melba toast as a snack. satisfies the crunch that i need at 4pm.

                                where are you located? we were in london recently, and i'm pretty sure i saw lightly salted nuts in marks and spencer

                                1. re: Soop

                                  >>As Ipsedixit says, maybe I could buy a big bag of mixed nuts (salty though - and it's only way I like them)<<

                                  I can be quite the eater, work at a relentless pace for 12 hours on average, and often need something to tide me over between lunch and dinner - around 3-4PM. The first thing I tend to grab is what's easiest. Because of this, I keep of bag of raw unsalted almonds around. A couple of handfuls and I'm good to go. Don't know how readily available they are, but give them a try. I know you specified salted as I used to be the same way. If possible, give them a try and stick with it for a little while. I still eat "lightly salted" or "50% less" salted nuts so I don't load up on sodium, but I've also become accustomed to no salt, and yes, raw almonds as well. The raw ones tend to take longer to digest, so they hold me over for dinner. If not, I hope you have access to Spanish Marcona almonds. They tend to be less salty in my experience, and while they don't hold me over as well, they still do better than a candy bar or granola. If the almonds still don't do it for you, try taking a nibble of dark chocolate with your almonds.

                                  1. re: bulavinaka

                                    *holding up my hands...bowing my head* I believe in the power of almonds!!! LOL...I keep low-salt roasted almonds in my desk drawer at work at all times...those little gems have pulled me through hectic work mornings when I've had no breakfast and afternoons when I'm just nasty-hungry around 3:30 or 4:00!!!! They are really awesome!

                                    1. re: Val

                                      Glad to hear that I'm not the only one. I mentioned pairing it with occasional nibble of dark chocolate - this hits another part of my craving and usually keeps me smiling for a while.

                                2. What about a fresh homemade cake, a dense one with lots of nuts and dried fruit? An applesauce cake or fruited spice cake always _seem_ more healthy to me than a frosted sponge cake. They’re not gooey either so you could even carry it (wrapped) in your pocket. [This of course assumes you like to bake.:-)]

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: cuccubear

                                    Love baking.
                                    Would it last a week though? (assuming my girlfriend doesn't scoff it)

                                    1. re: Soop

                                      How about something like fruitcake?

                                      From personal experience, those things have a shelf life right up there with canned goods. :-)

                                      1. re: Soop

                                        It should if kept covered.

                                        Hell, a cake like that could last a week or more at my place if I'm the only one eating it. Banana bread is something else I'll make for a sweet snack.

                                        1. re: Soop

                                          Or homemade granola bars? You mentioned that you already make granola... bars somehow seem like more of a substantial snack to me, while a handful of granola doesn't. (I guess because you bite into them. Eating plain granola by itself always feels to me like eating crumbs.)

                                          1. re: Soop

                                            you could always slice it and freeze indiv servings. let it come to room temp or microwave it.

                                        2. Tuna in small individual cans, or as other suggest sardines or kippers or any other meat. Hard-boiled eggs are a great portable snack. You could start bringing in your own food as well instead of depending on the canteen. If you must have something sweet, try peanut butter without added sugar. But eat something with fat and protein--that's way more satiating and healthier than cake.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: MandalayVA

                                            Please no tuna or ultra smelly food in a workplace. The smell is unbearable for some of us!

                                          2. In the afternoon I typically have a salty/sweet craving, and this recipe from Giada De Laurentis keeps me happy (I use just almonds and cashews since I can't eat walnuts).

                                            Spiced Cocktail Nuts

                                            Vegetable cooking spray
                                            2 egg whites
                                            2 cups roasted and salted almonds
                                            2 cups roasted and salted cashew nuts
                                            2 cups walnut halves
                                            3/4 cup sugar
                                            2 tablespoons Madras curry powder
                                            1 tablespoon ground cumin
                                            2 1/2 teaspoons garlic salt
                                            1 1/4 teaspoons cayenne pepper
                                            1 teaspoon ground cardamom
                                            1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
                                            Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet, liberally, with vegetable cooking spray. (I line it with parchment paper first.) Set aside.

                                            In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites until frothy. Add the nuts and stir until coated. (I then drain the nuts in a colander in the sink, otherwise they end up somewhat gummy.)

                                            In a small bowl, combine the sugar, curry powder, cumin, garlic salt, cayenne pepper, cardamom, and cinnamon. Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the nuts and toss until coated. Arrange the nuts in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes until golden and fragrant. Cool for 1 hour.

                                            Using a metal spatula, remove the nuts from the baking sheet. Break the nuts into bite- sized pieces and place in serving bowls

                                            1. I want to try these and haven't yet:


                                              They look like they should be good for the sweet tooth, but not as unhealty.
                                              I noticed the dislike of PB, but I'm sure almond or cashew would be good as well.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. You could mix some granola and/or berries (fresh or frozen) in your yogurt to make it a little more "solid" snack. Honey mixed with yogurt and drizzled on fresh fruit is good too.

                                                Do you like bananas? One of those always makes a good snack. You could slice it and sprinkle some cocoa powder over it to make it chocolately. Or, even spread a little Nutella on it.

                                                You're in Europe! You must have access to some awesome cheeses that we Americans would die for. Cheese and crackers!

                                                If you're not a fan of Peanut Butter, how about cream cheese? Anything you can spread PB on, is usually just as good with cream cheese spread on it.

                                                You could look up some "healthy" cookie recipes if you love to bake. There are many versions of oatmeal cookies that are not full of butter and sugar that would make tasty, portable, snacks.

                                                1. I'm going with an old standard here, but I love those baby carrots and some celery sticks with salad dressing. It's very portable; you put the vegetables in a resealable sandwich bag, and the dressing in a cleaned out small jam or jelly jar. If you have access to a fridge, great; if not, a very heavy duty plastic bag with some ice in the morning should keep things chilly.

                                                  The beauty of this approach is you don't have to use the same dressing each day; just clean your jar when you get home, and try something different the next. It will stop you from getting bored. And of course, you could always add or vary the vegetables - strips of red/orange/yellow bell peppers, cucumber.

                                                  What I really like about this snack is the crunch factor - it's just way more satisfying to me than a sandwich or a chewy cookie, and I feel way better eating it than I would crisps or the like. Oh, and if you do need to add some protein, a little cubed cheese in another bag gives you a more balanced meal.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: FrankD

                                                    One thing that can tame a real sweet tooth--and add some real nourishment to your diet--is eating sweet potatoes or yams on a regular basis. Peel and slice 'em up like fries, toss with a bit of olive oil, cinnamon, chili powder, whatever you like, and roast in a very hot oven (450 for twenty minutes and then 400 until done), tossing regularly... they will get very brown and toasty and are a great item for the snack sack!

                                                  2. Men's Health likes beef jerky and so so I.

                                                    4 Replies
                                                    1. re: Cameraman

                                                      In nyc I went to a jerky place in Chinatown and had the most delicious beef jerky and spicy pork jerky. Nothing like the nasty stuff we have in the supermarket. They even had chicken jerky, shrimp & pork... all different flavors. It was dirt cheap too.

                                                      1. re: lynnlato

                                                        I've always wondered why Chinese jerky is so much better than it's American counterpart ...

                                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                                          Man, I heard a lot of people say that. Yet, personally, I like the American tough dry chewing beef jerky more than the Chinese soft juicy jerky. I do prefer many Chinese style things like Chinese chef's knife, Chinese chopping block, Chinese wok, Chinese bakery (like egg tarts...). However, when it comes to beef jerky, definitely American for me.

                                                      2. Cocktail napkin wisdom: "Some problems can be solved with love, and some even with humor, but some things just require cake."

                                                        1. Consider keeping some of these in your desk for when you need a snack. www.organicfoodbar.com
                                                          Or mix up some trail mix with ingredients of your choice.

                                                          1. Make a Dundee cake with lots of rum. It is better a bit aged; and will last a long time.

                                                            Make you own nut butter. Just today (!) I made a jar of almond (left over from last Christmas' Dundee cake) and macadamia nut butter. Toasted the nuts a bit in the toaster oven, processed in food processor, adding honey, touch of salt, and corn oil.

                                                            Part of my daughter's school snack is now some cold soba (you can use spagetti) noodles topped with chopped chives, shredded chicken, and a dressing of soy sauce and toasted sesame oil.

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                              Don't have a food processor yet Sam, but Maybe soon. (Even though we don't have space for it!)

                                                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                Oh, I do love soba though, because it is made with buckwheat, which is very nutritious and tasty.

                                                              2. Carrots, celery, snow peas, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, etc w/hummus for variety, or just plain. Plantain chips!

                                                                  1. Alton Brown has some really good granola recipes:
                                                                    (you can probably google others


                                                                    basically you can sub in whatever you want. they've always turned out really well for me! i have them with coffee/tea/whatever at work for a filling snack.