Category Archives: Snacks

Mexican Hot Chocolate Spiced Almonds

Fritz and I both have a sweet tooth.  Luckily for me, I can usually distract mine from chocolate and candies with fruit–Fritz, not so much.  He says he doesn’t even have a real sweet tooth, more of a “snack tooth”.  The kid loves to snack. Like, he really loves a snack.

Instead of fighting this primal need of his, I try to keep the cupboards stocked with healthy snacks–granola bars, nuts, pumpkin seeds, yogurts, peanut butter, etc.  A lot of snack choices = a happy Fritz.  (This is supplemented by my parents generously supplying him with extra-large bags of peanut M&Ms, of course).

I decided to make a sweet snack that would still be healthier than say, chips, but still have that grab-a-handful-on-the-way-by appeal that a true snack has.  I was looking through Vegetarian Times and stumbled upon the perfect easy snack recipe–Cocoa-dusted Glazed Almonds.  After I made them, I renamed them because they reminded me exactly of Mexican hot chocolate–sweet, spicy, and perfectly satisfying.

 Here’s the recipe for you to try:

Mexican Hot Chocolate Almonds

  • 3 T maple syrup
  • 2 T brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 t cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 t cinnamon
  • 2 C raw almonds
  • 1 1/2 T unsweetened cocoa powder

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Combine everything except the almonds and the cocoa powder into a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer.  Add the almonds, and cook for three minutes, constantly stirring.

Pour onto the prepared baking sheet, and spread them out into a single layer–this takes a little effort, ’cause they are very sticky at this point!

Bake in the oven (middle rack) until the syrup around the almonds turns a darker brown, about 20 minutes.  Keep your eye one these, because nuts burn fast in the oven and there’s no way to turn back once you’ve gone too far!  When finished, remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.  Meanwhile, place the cocoa powder into a resealable bag.  When the almonds are cool, break them apart and toss ’em in the bag until they are dusted with cocoa.

Enjoy!

These almonds were a tremendous success.  They have a surprisingly complex flavor but it melds perfectly with the cocoa powder.  When I was just making the syrup, I was worried it was too salty and too spicy, but once you taste the toasted almonds with it–perfection.  These went pretty quickly.

And they go perfectly with a glass of milk.

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Superbowl Sunday: Spinach and Artichoke Hummus

In case you haven’t heard, it’s Superbowl Sunday.

Go Steelers!  Go Packers!  Go finger food!

I’m not much of a football fan…but I am definitely a die-hard snack fan–and when you make healthy snacks, then everyone wins!

I decided to combine two of my ultimate snack foods (spinach and artichoke dip and hummus) into one fantastic and somewhat healthier version.  Plus, if there’s a way to sneak vegetables into something I love to eat, then I’ll do it!  Not to mention hummus is delicious on carrot sticks, celery, tomatoes, broccoli, and bell peppers instead of chips, so it’s a double whammy.

Spinach and Artichoke Hummus

  • 2 C chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 3-4 T tahini (4 for me…I can eat tahini straight outta the jar)
  • 2 T plain greek yogurt
  • 2-4 cloves garlic (I used 2)
  • 3-4 T lemon juice
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/8 t paprika

But that’s not it!

  • 1 handful fresh spinach
  • 1 can artichoke hearts, packed in water

BAM!  This is not your ordinary hummus.

Add everything except salt, spinach, and the artichoke hearts to a food processor and process until smooth.  I suggest leaving the salt out until it’s smooth, then adding it slowly until you like the taste–everyone likes their hummus to taste different!  The first time I made it I added the salt straightaway and it was a bit salty for my taste.

Rinse the spinach and chop it into small pieces, then saute it quickly over medium heat.  Squeeze out the excess water and add to the hummus.  Chop the artichoke hearts, squeeze out the extra water, and add that too!  Mix it together, and try not to eat it all right away.

How amazing is that?

I love hummus.  I could eat that whole bowl with a spoon.  Right now.  But that’s probably not the healthiest thing ever–by the way, substituting the greek yogurt for some of the tahini is a great way to make your hummus a little bit better for you (without sacrificing the tahini completely–I could eat that with a spoon too.  Isn’t that weird?).

Enjoy!  And go get ready, because it’s almost game time.

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Filed under Appetizers, Snacks, Vegetarian

Trail Mix (Fritz’s Brain Food)

Finally, with two more tests down (and only two weeks of tests left to go) I actually have a minute to catch my breath, blog…and watch Biggest Loser.  It’s been a lot of studying these last few weeks, and if you know me even the slightest bit, you know that I’d rather sell my soul to the devil do almost anything besides crack open those books.  Despite my best procrastination efforts, my cooking has still been cut down a bit–but in order to get Fritz through a day of dental lectures without passing out I needed to make him a high-energy snack food.  And if you know Fritz at all, you know he loves trail mix.  So voila!

Brain Food Trail Mix

  • 2 C raisins or other small dried fruit or berry
  • 16 oz bag organic banana chips, preferably unsweetened
  • 16 oz raw almonds
  • 8 oz raw cashews
  • 8 oz dried unsweetened apricots
  • any other fruit or nuts you want! I had some leftover pine nuts so I tossed those in.  I’ve also used yogurt covered raisins, and I know Fritz would love it if I added some peanut M&Ms (but I’m not going to. Sorry!)

Mix everything together and store in an airtight container.  You’d be surprised at how fast this goes, even though we store an 1/4 C measuring cup in the container so we take appropriately sized portions.

Wanna know some of the healthy benefits stored in that container?  Banana chips are a great source of fiber, manganese, potassium and iron.  Raw almonds are one of the most nutritionally dense nuts, containing vitamin E, magnesium, and protein.  Raw cashews (most aren’t really raw–just not roasted!) contain B vitamins, zinc, and protein.  Raisins are high energy because they are chock full of sugar like any dried fruit, but also provide fiber and antioxidants.  Lastly, dried apricots obviously have lots of fiber, but also produce the widest range and highest levels of carotenoids, antioxidants that help fight heart disease.  Don’t forget to eat in moderation, but you can feel secure knowing there is not added sugar, salt, or preservatives in your homemade mix.  Not to mention–it’s cheaper than buying a pre-made bag!  You can buy an eight-pound bag of raw almonds at BJ’s for $9!

Even though it’s more work to shop for and throw together these ingredients, it’s definitely worth it because it takes only about an extra five minutes and you’ll feel so good!  Sometimes it’s worth the extra mile, ya know?

I took a picture of our dinner tonight because it was so yummy and once again super healthy.  One of our favorite ways to relax (and eat a TON) is to have taco night! I’ll let you see for yourself:

 

I used ground turkey and black beans (I use dried beans, not canned, because they are cheaper and aren’t packed in sodium) for the filling, with some onions, garlic, cayenne pepper, and chili powder.  Chop up and throw on any veggies (we used tomatoes and avocados), some fresh chopped cilantro, and a tablespoon of plain greek yogurt (that’s right–it tastes just like sour cream in this mix!) and you don’t even need cheese or other fatty additions.  Toss it on a whole-wheat mini tortilla and you can eat three and still not feel guilty (which I did…and you should).

In some other lovely news, our good friends Breanna and Zev (henceforth known as “Zevanna”) came to visit this weekend!  We went to our favorite breakfast place, Toast, and pumpkin picking at a farm out east and had a great time.  You know how there are some people who you don’t get to see that often, but when you do get together, you can’t stop talking?  That’s what these guys are like.  On top of that, it was a celebratory weekend because Zev just took his DATs (to get into dental school) and got amazing scores.  Congrats guys!

I bought ingredients for pumpernickel bread, so as soon as I have enough hours at home I’ll be making that.  I also recently realized that I have dried chilis, chickpeas, and tahini–hot, spicy hummus here I come!  On a non-food note, I have an appointment tomorrow to get my hair cut, so I’ll be posting a fabulous update soon.  ‘Till then!

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Get Saucy With It (Applesauce)

Lately I’ve been trying to bake a bit healthier in an attempt to have less salt, sugar, and fat in our diet (and I guess less calories would be nice too).  A few different people have mentioned to me that you can substitute applesauce for oil when you bake, and I have a couple recipes in mind that I’d like to try this with–black bean brownies (you heard right!) will probably be the first one.

Since I have some apples leftover from apple picking, I thought I’d start by making my own applesauce. It’s probably the easiest thing to do ever, and it’s really yummy (especially warm).  So here’s the first step towards healthier eating!

Homemade Apple Sauce

  • 6 apples (I used Cortland)
  • 1/2 C water
  • 1 tsp sugar (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional–I used less because although I love cinnamon, I don’t want to taste it in my baking)

 

Peel and cube the apples (you can leave the peel on for pink applesauce, but it has to be sieved after to get rid of the peel, which is more time consuming), and add water, sugar and cinnamon.  Cover and simmer on medium-low heat for about 20 minutes until apples are cooked.

 

While you are waiting for the apples to cook, it’s probably a good idea to eat my favorite snack–apple slices and peanut butter.

 

As an aside, I recently switched from regular to natural peanut butter when I saw the ingredient list went from 20 or so words I can hardly pronouce to “peanuts, salt”.  Even though its a serious pain in the butt to mix in the oil the first time you open natural peanut butter, I learned that if you keep the jar in the fridge rather then at room temperature it’s less likely to separate and you should never have to mix again. 

Anyway, back to the applesauce.  Let it cool and then puree in a blender, adding water if you want it to be less thick (but you probably won’t).  

 

Sometime over the weekend I’ll try a baking applesauce-oil substitution and let you know how it goes.  Also, I started a project today growing my own alfalfa sprouts (thanks to my mom, who spent some of her earlier years a dedicated hippie), and in a few days I’ll post the results.  If you have any healthy or weird substitution ideas, I would love to hear them!

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