Tag Archives: Almonds

Popcorn Snack Bars

Today without a doubt felt like the longest day of class I have experienced in a long, long time.

It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, but I think I’ve just been a little more tired and run down than usual from being out of my normal routine all weekend.  We even watched a movie (The Sea Inside) during my first class, which I really liked, but it didn’t help move the day along any faster.

In fact, the only thing that kept me from passing out on my plinth from exhaustion was probably these popcorn snack bars.  Since I knew we were watching a movie, I wanted to bring in some theater treats that would be delish and hopefully leaning towards healthy for some of my friends to enjoy.

Orville Redenbacher to the rescue!

Popcorn Snack Bars Printable Recipe Card

  • 8 C popped popcorn (preferably the plain, healthy, non-butter-flavored kind, if you can)
  • 2 C old-fashioned oats
  • 1 C almonds (or any nut)
  • 1 C raisins (or any dried fruit)
  • 3/4 C honey
  • 3/4 C brown sugar
  • 1/4 t salt

First, pop the popcorn.  You can use regular bags if you don’t have a fancy-smancy Whirly-Pop that you received as a wedding gift from your awesome older sister and her hubs (thanks, Erin and Bruce!).  I used about 1/2 C unpopped corn in 2 T of vegetable oil to pop this batch.

While it’s off popping (not popping off), combine the honey, salt, and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Stir until all the sugar is dissolved, then remove from the heat.  Next time I make this recipe, I’m going to try using straight honey with no added sugar.  I’ll let you know how that goes.

In a gigantic bowl, combine the popcorn, oats, fruit, and nuts.  Make sure to pick out all the unpopped or partially popped corn so none of your friends or family break their teeth (but if they do, I know a dentist-to-be…).  Pour the honey syrup over the top, and stir it all up.  Use a giant spoon (and let’s be honest, it’s going to get all over your hands), to make sure everything gets covered in the sweet stuff.

Grease a 9″x13″ pan (I used spray canola oil), and dump the popcorn mixture right in.  Use your hands to press it down firmly (you may have to get your hands the slightest bit oily to do this without sticking).  If you are crazy like me, you can press some white (or regular) chocolate chips leftover from your zucchini brownies into the top of half this mixture.  Yum.

Refrigerate for an hour or two before cutting.  That’ll make it easier to slice ‘n’ dice–but the bars themselves don’t have to be served cold.

These are kind of like a fiber-filled and nutritious version of a rice krispy treat.  Even without the marshmallow, they still have that admirable sticky and pull-apart texture of a rice krispy treat.

The honey flavor is definitely the best part of these bars.  With the slight crunch of popcorn, the chewy and honey-soaked oats make these totally hearty.

And delicious.

Definitely delicious.

Also, check out our CSA box number eight!  I’m super excited for the content of this week’s box–looks like I get to have some fun with flavor and get away from salads for a little while. 

Driving home from picking out the box was amazing–the dill and garlic was so aromatic even from the back seat that I know I’ll be dreaming up soups for at least a week.

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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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Good Mornin’ Granola

My sister Erin has mentioned to me that she wants me to post Tharrie’s muesli recipe because she has longed for a large Tupperware of nuts, fruit, oats, and honey to wake up to.  This morning I woke up early already thinking of something healthy and tasty to go with my yogurt this and thought to myself, “Maybe today is the day for muesli!”

Well, I’m sorry Erin. I looked up Tharrie’s recipe and I didn’t have the right ingredients–but I did have enough lying around to make a muesli-inspired granola!  Since we’ve started eating plain Greek yogurt (constantly), I like to add a little crunch on top to mix up the already thick texture.  We usually have granola in the house because Fritz is totally obsessed enjoys an occasional bowl, but there’s always a ridiculous amount of added sugar and other weird ingredients I don’t recognize that I can only assume are added to lengthen its shelf life.  Now that I’m trying to “eat food” (meaning whole, real food ingredients), I decided what better thing to do than make my own!

Also, why does granola cost about $39,568 a pound?  It’s probably much cheaper to make my own anyway.

Good Mornin’ Granola

(Please give me a little leeway with these ingredients–I eyeballed the measurements, and plus, I was just makin’ this whole thing up anyway)

  • 1 C old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 C raw almonds
  • 1/2 C  raw walnuts
  • 2 T ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 C shredded coconut
  • 1/4 C apple juice
  • 2 T honey

Pre-heat the oven to 275 degrees.  Pulse the nuts in a food processor until broken up into large pieces (don’t over process into crumbs–you want the texture of big chunks).

Next, combine all the dry ingredients.

Admire.  Then add the apple juice and the honey.  I started with one T of honey and drizzled a little more over until the ingredients were clumping together.

Mix the ingredients thoroughly, then spread out on a glass pan or metal baking sheet.  Leave some clumps for your own chewing satisfaction.

Bake on a middle rack for about half an hour, or until brown and crispy.  Every 5-8 minutes, use a spatula to check, turn and mix the granola–you don’t want the nuts to burn!  Remove and let cool in the pan.  You can then store in an air-tight container for a week…but it probably won’t last that long.

We sprinkled the granola over plain greek yogurt and added apple slices, raisins, and a bit of brown sugar (but the sugar is not necessary, it’s sweet enough to eat alone).  Fritz was very pleased with the results!

That’s the kind of breakfast you should eat before you spend the day in the city, meeting up with some of your favorite women for lunch and coffee (or tea).  What lucky girl gets to do that today?

Me! It’s me!  I’m going to take the train in about an hour to see my good friend Breanna for a few hours, and then I’ll even get to meet up with Eber on her hour break from work in Bryant Park for some delightfully hot beverages.  Which I probably won’t even want, because it’s supposed to be a high of 65 degrees today!

Might be the best day ever.

(Sorry Fritz).

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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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