Posts tagged healthy snacks
We still have blueberries in abundance and I’m making blueberry everything. Today I wanted something fast and cooling, so I made up a smoothie. I tried a new ingredient today with great success – fennel. I had a bronze fennel blow over in a recent storm, so had gone out and brought in the huge stem. I cut off all the leaf portions, which were substantial, a stored it in the fridge for use over the next several days.
I “accidentally” pulled the fennel bag out thinking it was something else and decided to give it a try. I was surprised by the combination of flavors and how well they blend, but also, by how strong the fennel leaf is.
Please remember my proportions are always guesstimates. Here’s my new combination:
Blueberry Fennel Smoothie
- 1.5 cups almond milk
- 1 frozen banana
- 1 large chard leaf
- 10 medium lettuce leaves
- 3 or 4 bronze fennel leaves (or regular fennel)
- 2 cups blueberries (or more if you like)
Place all ingredients in Vitamix (or blender) and puree. Drink immediately!
Hope you enjoy this unusual taste combination.
What’s your favorite smoothie?
Blueberries are a rather maligned fruit. Until recent years you couldn’t even buy them in a supermarket. All you could find were products with blueberries in them. That all changed when blueberries were found to be a “superfood.” Who would have thought that the lowly blueberry would be near the top of the heap in antioxidants. They’re also high in vitamin C, B complex, vitamin E, vitamin A, copper, selenium, zinc, and iron.
Not only that, there have been studies that show that blueberries may protect the brain from aging diseases like Alzheimers. One study actually showed improvement in cognitive tests with just two weeks of high doses of blueberry juice. Now that’s a prescription I could follow.
North Carolina, where I live, is one of the biggest producers of blueberries in the nation. We have the perfect highly acidic soil and climate they seem to like. One of the first perma-crops we planted on our property were blueberries and this year they are really coming into their own. We have blueberries the size of quarters and an abundance of them.
Right now we’re just eating them fresh with a little maple yogurt; occasionally pairing them with strawberries. However, fresh blueberries are delicious in muffins and other quick breads, and we’ve made an amazing blueberry syrup by simply combining fresh berries and sweetener (Sucanat for us). It isn’t as thick as if you cook it, but it retains all those amazing nutrients and antioxidants.
One important thing to note is that organic blueberries have even higher amounts of nutrients. Domestic non-organic blueberries are listed as number 10 on the the dirty dozen list, so keeping them organic keeps you away from as many as 50 pesticides and give you even more of those desirable antioxidants!
Check to see if you can successfully grow blueberries in your area and plant a hedge of blueberries. They are attractive plants and will feed you better than a hedge of hollies will any day!
This past weekend I needed to cook two meals a day for eight people. I have to admit that I had a terrible time getting the proportions right. The first day I made way too many grains, the second not enough.
Also, because there was no kitchen where I had to serve I had to make all the food in crock pots. It was tasty, but the vegetables were more of a soup than a dish and the grains got overcooked and mushy.
Another problem I had was just how much salt, herbs, and spices I needed to put in. It is very frustrating to be an excellent cook and feel like you fed a group of people a very mediocre meal. They all raved about it, but still, I know that it could have been so much better.
The things that worked well were the bread and the salad. Other than that I felt like people were OK with what was served, but not really excited about it.
So, what is your best tip for cooking for crowds from 8 to 30? I know that I’m going to need to be preparing large scale meals again. Also, what do you serve for snacks? Remember it needs to be healthy. No white sugar or flour, something prepared fresh that will feed a small army of munchers. I had fruit and freshly made popcorn that went over fairly well, but I want to get away from chips and overly sweet treats. Please leave a comment below. I’d be interested and I’m sure others would to. We’ve all come up against this bugger at one time or another.
When I became a vegetarian there weren’t a lot of good vegetarian cookbooks, plus most of them were for ovo-lacto vegetarians and I don’t eat eggs. For years I pined away, wishing I could make good muffins, cakes, pancakes, and the like. I tried all the egg replacers and found them to really be lacking. I did manage some decent treat using things like applesauce and yogurt, but sometimes I didn’t want their distinct flavors in what I was preparing.
Finally I began to play around with it myself and found that it is incredibly easy to make everything from cookies to pancakes from one basic recipe. How you make it into each different treat is through how much water you add to the dough, as well as what extras you put in. For instance you will put a lot less water into a cookie dough, than a pancake batter. You’ll add more sugar to cookies, too. In muffins you might want to add dried fruit, nuts, etc. Cookies may have peanut butter or things like that added to it, which all affect the level of water needed.
One of the nice things I found is that, even when I messed up I turned out something edible. Oh, maybe the muffins were a little gooey on the inside or the cookies didn’t flatten out the way I wanted, but they were all edible.
So, here’s my very basic recipe:
Basic Flour Mix
1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup white whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
Enough water to make batter/dough the consistency you need.
That being said here are a few variations I do for different recipes.
- If I want my cookies to flatten out some I add about ¼ cup sunflower or safflower oil.
- If using peanut butter you’ll need a bit more water.
- When making a sweet treat I use Sucanat, a whole sugar. Not too sweet add ½ cup, really sweet add 1 cup.
- To know how much of a spice to put in, for cookies or muffins, just refer to a recipe in a book and use their recommendation. Just remember spices you use less of, herbs you can use more of. Don’t be tempted to add a bunch more of the spices as it can be very overpowering. If you really want it to be especially cinnamony, then add about ¼ to ½ tsp more.
For cake I have a wonderful recipe that you can mix up right in the 9×13 pan.
Now you can enjoy your treats and have them healthy, too.
One of the things I’m doing right now is trying to find really tasty, healthy snack foods, especially what I call crunchy-salty snacks. We’ve got a good stash of sweet treats, but finding recipes for healthy crunchy-salty snacks has been a challenge. We’re trying to avoid fried foods, too. Often either the list of ingredients or the steps to make something are daunting. As I’ve said before I’m always for tasty and quick.
Anyway, I found this great cracker recipe in Yoga Journal, so I’m going to share it with you.
These were reprinted in YJ from Eat Well, by Charity Ferreira (Oxmoor house, 2008).
Seeded Amaranth Crackers
Make 3 dozen crackers
- 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup amaranth flour
- Coarse sea salt
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 2-1/2 T olive oil
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 tsp each poppy, fennel, sesame, and amaranth seeds
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- Preheat the oven 375˚. Line a baking sheet with cooking parchment.
- In a food processor, blend flours, ½ tsp salt, and baking powder. Add 2 Tbsps oil and pulse until the mixture resembles course crumbs. Slowly add water, pulsing just until the dough comes together.
- Scrape out onto a floured board and use a floured rolling pin to roll out a rectangle that is 1/8” thick. Cut into squares and place on baking sheet. Brush with remaining oil and sprinkle with seeds, paprika, and ½ tsp salt.
- Bake until crackers are golden on edges and bottoms, 10-15 minutes.
Soon this will be my own recipe, as I already changed several things. First, I used white whole-wheat flour. Also, I ended up making my own amaranth flour, as I couldn’t find any available in our area. Last I rolled the crackers out on the parchment and then slipped it onto the cookie sheet. Much easier than picking each one up by hand. I cut them with a pizza cutter, worked great! Already my head is busy with different seasonings, flours, oils, etc. I’ll share my permutations with you as they develop. Mostly I needed a cracker recipe that actually came out like a cracker and not like a biscuit and this it perfectly.
Yeow! I was going to include a picture of some crackers in this post, but all I could find was where white pasty junk crackers! So you’ll just have to imagine some beautiful whole grain and seed crackers…
Using fall fruits can make excellent smoothies. Below is a recipe I prepared recently.
- 1 pear, peeled and quartered
- 1 banana, peeled and broken into several pieces
- 4 chard leaves with stems, washed and cut into large pieces
- 1 cup soy milk
- ½ cup vanilla yogurt
- ½ tsp Chinese five spice
Put all ingredients in a high speed blender or Vitamix and puree until smooth.
You can substitute almond or rice milk; ½ cup plain yogurt, 1 tsp vanilla extract, whole sugar to taste; leave out the Chinese five spice, add cinnamon and/or ginger; frozen banana for fresh.
By continuing to drink smoothies into the fall months, you’ll continue to get great nutrition by including leafy greens and fresh fruit in your diet.
This works great as a breakfast drink, or have it ready for the kids when they get home from school.
Very dear to my heart is helping kids to stay healthy and vibrant. Today over 30% of children are considered obese, what a tragedy. Obese children usually make obese adults, and obese adults leave themselves open for many more diseases than adults within their normal range of health.
One thing we need to remember is that kid’s taste is different than adults. Finding recipes for kids that they really like is an important key to the success of a healthy diet. If the kids don’t like the food, they won’t eat it. They’ll trade with their friends for food less desirable, but more tasty.
Children set their taste preferences early, so it is important to offer them what you would like to see them to eat when they get older. Don’t start out using white bread and then expect your child to willingly change over to whole wheat, even if it is better for them and tastes better to you. Avoid foods that are high on the glycemic index. Those are foods that are converted into sugar rapidly and often contribute to weight gain. That means all the white stuff: sugar, flour, rice, etc. You can find a list of foods by doing a quick search on the Internet.
Another thing to remember is that kids don’t eat as much. They are smaller, so make their portions smaller. Cut up fruit and only give them half and apple at a time. Make carrot sticks that are small and easy to crunch, then add a nice hummus or bean dip to go with them. Using a thermos and sending nice hot homemade soups or chilled smoothies when the weather is cold or hot is always a welcome treat.
I’ve heard many parents moan that they can’t get their kids to eat anything healthy. I’ve never known children to starve themselves to death, so just start having only healthy alternatives available. If you don’t have sodas, candy, white bread, and other highly processed foods available they will eat what is there. You might have to experiment a little to find what will satisfy their sweet tooth without it being a disaster nutritionally. Maybe try fresh fruit, a smoothie, frozen banana with peanut butter, yogurt with some fruit in it, etc. The best thing, though, is to start them out right.
I was on a diet when I was eleven, because my mother was concerned that I was gaining too much weight. I hated it, but it taught me a very important lesson. If I don’t regulate my own eating, someone else will, be it a parent or doctor. I didn’t want that, so I’ve managed my diet carefully since and I’ve never been seriously overweight my entire teen and adult life. Now I choose healthy food with a 5% leeway for some old favorite, comfort food. If you start them off right their comfort food will also be healthy for them!
I have to admit I’m dreading the flight I’m taking tomorrow, just a little. The main reason is that I have a special diet and it is nearly impossible to get food either on the plane or in the airport that meets my needs.
At least this time on the way over I don’t have to worry too much, because it will be after dinner and all I’ll need is something to snack on. I’m taking some peanuts and raisins for that.
Coming home, though I’ll be traveling right through the middle of the day. After years of having a special diet, it is still a challenge to find something easy to pack, that won’t get confiscated or squashed in a carryon.
Not only that, when you have to bring your own food it really cuts into what you can fit into your carryon. When we traveled to India last year about half our carryon was stuffed with food, because we had a full 24-hours from take-off to touch down in India.
If anyone out there has any ideas for vegetarian packable food, that also has no onion, garlic or hot green chilies in it, I’d love to know what it is. Has to be quick and easy to put together, too, because I’m always in rush the day of take-off.
Staying on the theme of apples, since the new crop is coming in now, I’d like to share with you an unusual, but very tasty apple snack. I was told about this idea by a lovely Indian woman when I was in the local international store picking up some spices. She was buying black salt. I had no idea what it was, but it looked interesting, and I like to try interesting things.
In its solid form it looks almost black in color, thus the name. When it is broken into smaller pieces it has a dark pink cast, and the ground salt is pale pink in color. Black salt has an interesting flavor, because of its sulfur content. The sulfur also contributes to its cooked egg smell.
Now, when you read this you may think it sounds disgusting, but surprisingly enough the combination of salt and egg are pretty good. It also has a slightly bitter flavor, too, which becomes pronounced if you use too much, so use it sparingly.
I was told that the lady’s son loved shredded apples with black salt sprinkled over them. He would come home from school and beg for her to fix him some. I thought this was really strange, since I had only ever smelled the salt and not tasted it.
I bought a small amount, took it home, and ground it into a powder in my blender. Take note, it is very hard and will make a huge racket and take some time to powder it. I then used the food processor to make up some shredded apples and sprinkled a tiny bit on one bite. It was fantastic. The combination of the sweet-tart apples I love and the salt, with its slightly sulfury-bitter taste, was an amazing taste.
Black salt is now a regular part of my spice rack. I’ve used it in many savory dishes, and every fall enjoy many bowls of apples and black salt.
You can get it at many international and Indian food stores. If it comes in powdered form I would purchase that, as the chunks are really hard on the blades of a blender and it is hard to get it evenly ground.
So, next time you’re looking for something unusual to snack on, pick up some black salt and your favorite apples, and give it a try.