Tag Archives: Snack

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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Filed under Desserts, Snacks

Our CSA Box, and Crispy Chard Chips

After months of excited anticipation (I know, I’m such a dork), we finally got our first (and second) CSA box!

Because Fritz and I are idiots, when I was out-of-town last week, I forgot to call and remind him to pick up our first box.  Major bummer–but part of the fun of buying from a small farmer is that you can call them and figure out a solution to your own stupid mistakes.  Maggie, the farmer’s wife, offered to give us a few veggies that we missed last week so we wouldn’t feel like we wasted a week’s worth of money.  Isn’t that nice?  Not to mention that the box we forgot to pick up got donated to someone else who needed it (you’re welcome!).

So this is really about a week and a half worth of veggies:

And yes, they are as vibrant and green and delicious as they look.

Here’s the issue, though.  Now I have an entire tableful of greens–and I refuse to waste any of them!  You’ll be seeing a lot of greens-based recipes this year.  Between the green monsters (they use up a lot of greens, really fast) and salads, I’m not too worried about getting through them.  I also blanched and froze the beet greens, and I have some other fun things planned for the next few days.

Fritz is out-of-town for the weekend with his dad, though (and he took my camera!), so that is going to make cooking, blogging, and eating those greens a lot more difficult.

Our first recipe?  Crispy chard chips.

Crispy Chard Chips

  • 1 bunch chard (or kale, or any hearty green)
  • 1-2 T olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Rinse the chard leaves and tear them into pieces–they can be as large or small as you want–I went pretty large.  Drizzle two cookie sheets with the olive oil and divide the chard pieces between them.  Using your hands, toss the leaves with the olive oil until they are evenly coated.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper (and other spices if you want–garlic salt, paprika, chili powder…go crazy!).

Place on a middle rack in the oven and bake until dry and crispy, about 20 minutes.  Once they are cool, they shouldn’t stick to the bottom of the pan (thanks to the olive oil) but they may need to be gently loosened to remove them.  You can store these in a Tupperware container or plastic baggies, but trust me, they’ll go pretty quickly.

The crunchy, salty satisfaction of potato chips with all the health benefits of leafy greens.

I took these to school for a snack during my long days of lectures.  It was so nice to have a snack that feels like potato chips, since I try not to eat them but I really, really love them.

Really, really, really love them.

So far, the CSA has been a success–but I’ll update you again next week.  Hope you get a few minutes today to enjoy the weather (if you live near me) or just have some time for yourself.  Au revoir!

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Banana Whole-Wheat Rusks (South African)

It’s amazing how much the weather affects my mood.  When I woke up this morning it was gray and rainy out.  I did my usual Friday morning thing (straightened up, made a giant breakfast, did the dishes, and sat down to read) and even though that routine usually fills me with a huge sense of peace and relaxation, I felt weirdly…melancholy.  An hour or two went by, and as the rain stopped and the sun came out I was back to my regular baking, errand running, procrastinating, happy self.  And it was 100% due to the sun.  It was gorgeous enough to open the windows while I baked–and that is probably my favorite thing ever.

It also might have had to do with the green-themed care package that arrived in the mail today stuffed with goodies from my parents.  Thin Mints really just have a happy way about them, and my mom told me she has a new problem called she can’t stop buying me cute and functional things for my kitchen.

Mom and Dad found this scarf for me in Chinatown last time they were in NYC for business

Now that is a problem that I can live with.

I’ve mentioned before that the hubs is South African, and he has begged me for rusks for a few weeks now.  Rusks are a hard, twice-baked bread that is like biscotti in that it is dipped in tea or coffee to soften before eating.  Usually rusks are a little less refined than biscotti, too–salty buttermilk or rough bran often flavor these amazing snacks.

I have become a huge fan of rusks in the last few years, and since Fritz has also been asking for banana bread (he gets excited when he spies a few spots on a banana), I decided to go out on a limb and combine the two!

Start off with banana bread:

Whole-Wheat Banana Bread (you could use any banana bread recipe you like, but I’d aim for a hearty, less sweet version like this one I adapted–you want to complement your tea, not overwhelm it)

  • 2 C whole-wheat flour
  • 2 T ground flaxseed
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 3 bananas, mashed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 C brown sugar (I used Indian maple sugar)
  • 1/2 C milk (I think these would be even better if you substituted buttermilk here)
  • 2 t vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350.  Start by combining the dry ingredients, then adding the wet ingredients and mixing until a smooth batter forms.  Like I’ve said before, I like to slice the bananas into the mixer and then let the beater mash them a bit–then there are some chunks of banana left for discovery.

Pour into a greased loaf pan–I topped it with a crushed granola bar for some extra texture, but that’s optional.  Bake on the middle rack until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 50 minutes.  The top and edges will be a nice, dark brown because of the whole-wheat flour.  Let it cool for at least 15 minutes before you turn it out and slice it.

If you are just making banana bread, stop here.  Otherwise–turn the oven down to warm/200 degrees and get ready for rusks!

Banana Whole-Wheat Rusks

Slice the bread into thick slices, and divide each slice vertically into four pieces for thin, rectangular shapes.  Place the rusks on a dry baking sheet and dry out in the oven, rotating every hour or so to prevent them from burning.

It helps to keep the oven door propped open a bit to let the moisture escape.  The drying should take 3-6 hours for one loaf, depending on how hot your oven is and how thinly sliced the rusks are.  Once they are dry, cool completely before storing in an air-tight container.  Serve with tea or coffee.

Fritz nearly fainted with happiness when he discovered what was cookin’ in the oven all day.

Even Henry couldn’t wait for these rusks to finally be finished:

You’ll notice that Henry is seated on a scratching pad that he has decided is better suited as a throne–he sits on it all day long.  Gotta love that catnip.

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Filed under Breads, 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

Banana Nut Oatmeal Cookies

I made these cookies two days ago when I got that late night urge for a whole-wheat sweet (ooh! a rhyme!).  The next day we were back on the road headed to Long Island, and I packed all the leftover cookies–and they were perfect energizers for the second half of the trip.  I promised my sister Kristen that I would post the recipe for her, and since I had some browning bananas to use up, I doubled the recipe and froze half of them for next week.

It has been a gray, rainy day, and these cookies perfectly fit the mood.  I wasn’t sure what to call them, because there are so many delicious ingredients that I wanted to highlight–but I thought that “Banana Walnut Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Maple Whole Wheat Cookies” was a bit too much…so I settled on the most important players.

Banana Nut Oatmeal Cookies  (adapted from this recipe)

  • 1 C old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 C whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 T ground chia or flaxseed
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 C raisins or craisins
  • 1/2 C to 1 C walnuts (I was heavy-handed with the nuts)
  • 1 banana, roughly mashed
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 C maple syrup (I used 1/2 C Indian or maple sugar, and mixed in 1/8 C water)
  • 1/2 t vanilla
  • 1/2 t lemon juice

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.  Toast the walnuts for six to eight minutes, and cool. 

In your mixer, mix all the dry ingredients (flour, oats, salt, soda, powder, cinnamon, chia).  Add the wet ingredients (syrup, eggs, vanilla, lemon) and mix just until it forms a ball.  Add the banana, raisins, and walnuts, and blend in.  I mixed until everything was combined–I loved finding chunks of banana in the cookies, so don’t overmix.

Line a baking sheet with parchment and space the dough close together–the cookies don’t spread out much, so you can cram ’em all in there.  Press down the dough a little, and place in the oven in the middle rack for about 10 minutes, or until golden on the bottom.

Cool on the sheets for a few minutes, then place on a cooling rack.  Since I doubled the recipe, I froze half of them in freezer bags for later–but it wont be too much later, since Fritz just got home from class and ate four already.

These cookies are just too darn good.

I wanted to call them “energy bites” because they really are energizing little crunch bites, but I was afraid that would make me forget they are cookies and think that I could eat more than two at a time.  Don’t want that!

Fritz and I are headed off to the gym in a few minutes–I am taking a Total Body Conditioning class, and then either doing some cardio afterwards or going to my old Hatha yoga class–not sure which one I’m in the mood for, but I’m leaning towards cardio.  Might be all those cookies I ate today…

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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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