Veggie-licious Snacks

It all comes to down to space right?  Although some stomachs are bigger than othesr, and I’m talking on the inside, not the outside… there is a limited amount of space in a stomach for food.   The more of that space you fill with vegetables, the less space there is for more objectionable, less nutritious items.  This is not to say that only vegetables are healthy, but you pretty much can’t do better.  And you KNOW it is much easier to fill in the holes for carbohydrates and protein, I doubt you’ll go too low in either category if you eat more vegetables.

Although the eat more veggies philosophy will serve anyone who wants to be healthier well, it becomes problematic in relation to ‘snacks’.  My son will come home from school inquiring about snack food and my list of fruits and vegetables / dips / bread with a healthy topping is followed by his question, “after that can I have a ‘snack?”  Snack has become synonymous with treat… which in his mind is something he’s not supposed to have often.  Ah – that old beast – Forbidden non-fruit, right?

Again, and we have discussed this previously in our Baby Steps series, I rely on Pre-Emptive Produce, i.e. – fill up on veggies first!  Requiring a healthy snack prior to a smaller helping of whatever you allow as a less than healthiest snack choice in your home still means more veggies and less crap.  It works for me as well.  An orange, an apple, a carrot dipped in almond butter, some leftover roasted sweet potato, all make me able to remember that I don’t need to eat some of the more tempting items in my pantry.  So with the seasons of more plentiful produce upon us…. I promise they really are upon us, if a little delayed this year… here are some suggestions for veggie-licious snacks beyond the carrot and celery stick.

Sweet & Spicy carrots:
Cut 2 large carrots into chunks, microwave for 60 – 90 second or to desired tenderness

Mix together 1 tsp maple syrup, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 tsp ginger and a pinch of salt P1010627 Mix with carrots.
Make a double or triple batch and store in  the frig in little containers that can be grabbed – like a ‘snack’! P1010630 Pickly- cucumbers:
Slice 1 large or 2 med – small cucumbers into a glass container.
Add 1 Tbsp sugar & 1 Tbsp white vinegar
Cover with water
Add pepper if desired
Let sit for 4-5 hours – taste and add more vinegar / sugar / pepper if you like
Little Sis has some more complicated but delicious pickley cucumber goodness here.

Coleslaw cups
:
Coleslaw is very adaptable. Folks who don’t like (or don’t eat) mayo, can use alternate recipes and you can make it a little sweet without going crazy on the sugar!   Little Sis has a great cole slaw recipe here.

Roasted or baked potatoes
– this is a great alternative to chips. And if you can afford small, colored potatoes, then even better!  A mixture of potatoes and sweet potatoes is very nice and can be achieved in a 375 – 425 oven for 20 – 40 minutes depending on how small you cut the pieces.  But if you are making them for a snack it can go on while you are eating or doing something else right?  I just make extra when we have them for dinner – toss them in the frig and they are there to be easily heated up and scarfed down as a delicious snack!

Cauliflower crunch
:
Coat florets in olive oil then sprinkle paprika and breadcrumbs. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes (turning once).  I usually roast things at 375.

Frozen Grapes & Kiwi:
As simple as it sounds.  Place grapes and bite-sized chunks of peeled kiwi on a parchment lined baking sheet in the freezer.  When hard, place in smaller containers and keep in the freezer.  Healthy, tasty frozen snack!

Crispy Asparagus:
dip asparagus in egg white and bread with either whole wheat panko, or Italian breadcrumbs and bake til crispy.  I would think this would work with green beans as well – and again 375 would be a good place to start – but watch them closely the first time!

Unusual fruits and veggies:
Novelty can be good or bad – depending on the person, but it is at least special or different.  Try serving fresh pineapple for dessert one night.  It goes on sale and can be a lot cheaper than ice cream (if you buy good or non-dairy ice cream in particular).  Sugar snap peas make a great snack that many kids like because they are sweet and crunchy.  Offer something different!

And of course there is the option of dipping various crispy fruits and veggies into:
hummus
salad dressing
nut butter
yogurt (yogurt mixed with a little cinnamon and sweetener, or onion soup mix – read the label!!!)
Nutty Lunch Dip

So change the snack paradigm in your house.  A snack is sustenance to carry you through to the next meal, or through a workout / physical trial.  It can also be a treat…. surely some of these will fill both bills for the snackers in your house.  And if they still have to have a little somethin’ somethin’ that is not at the top of your list of acceptable, they can have less of it on top of their healthy snack.

Blogiversary Cookies.. and a Giveaway

It has been a whole year. I absolutely cannot believe it. Bigg Sis and I had been talking about doing some writing together and it dawned on us that there was a way to get started, like right away. And so we dove in, and wrote post after post, but I don’t think that we had any idea that, unlike putting a book or a series of articles out there, the space of the blog was going to be one that was going to give so much to us. That we would develop relationships with other bloggers, that our own dietary choices would continue to evolve because of the amazing real food community we’ve stumbled into. I’m a little overwhelmed. I’m not kidding.

I have been deeply gratified by the comments we’ve gotten that essentially tell us that we’ve made a difference for someone. It’s like karmic payday. I have been delighted and surprised by the support I’ve received and the way I’ve been stretched as a cook, as a writer, and as a Mom. I feel lucky, and together Bigg Sis and I wanted to be sure that you know how much we appreciate you. Those who show up every time; those who pop in and comment, and all of you lurkers. We appreciate you and hope that we give you some small piece of what you all give to us.

In the vein of giving back, we’d like to offer everyone a blogiversary cookie, and for one lucky reader, a blogiversary book. But which to do first? Me, I’d go for the cookie, but I’ve seen what happens on these here internets, and I’m betting you’d like to know about the giveaway…. Continue reading

Smoky Baba Ghanoush

I like vegetables a lot. And there are many, many vegetables that I like a lot. There are others that I will confess I have no use for (lima beans are at the top of this list – don’t judge). Then there is a category of vegetables that I have often disliked, but for some reason keep trying to find a way to love. Eggplant falls into this category. I did not care for it and yet the eggplant itself is so beautiful that I kept being drawn back to it. The deep purple skin gets me every time.  I’ve tried it a variety of ways, including the French classic ratatouille, and just couldn’t get anywhere with it. And then I found baba ghanoush.

It’s no secret to those of you who’ve been with us for a while that I am a fan of versatile condiments. I love turning on the food processor and then finding myself with a bowl full of yum that can serve as dip, spread, flavoring for veggie burger, spoon filler. You get the drift. Baba ghanoush makes eggplant work for me AND it serves beautifully in every nibbling and lunching application I throw at it.

Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately if you think about it, the store where I used to satisfy my baba ghanoush jones stopped selling it and so I was forced to venture out on my own. Who knew it would be so easy and so delicious freshly prepared and served with humble crackers and olives?  Ready to get your snack on? I usually am, and a veggie based dip sounds like just the ticket for my persistent munchies. Take a little dip; take a little dip; take a little dip with me.

Smoky Baba Ghanoush – method and starting point borrowed from The Joy of Cooking

      • 1 eggplant (mine was about 2 lbs, big and VERY purple, just beautiful)
      • 1 T tahini
      • 2 large cloves of garlic
      • 1/2 lemon juiced
      • 1 t salt
      • 1/8 t chipotle pepper powder (you could also use an actual pepper, but be VERY sparing, you’re going for the smokiness, not the heat, you could also use Liquid Smoke I imagine)

Preheat the oven to 400.  Poke holes all over the eggplant with a fork.  Roast the eggplant (and garlic cloves (skins on) in a roasting dish or on a baking sheet.  Take the garlic out after about 15 minutes.  Leave the eggplant in for about another 45.  You’re looking for very dark skin and more importantly, soft flesh.  Allow eggplant to cool to handle it.  Scoop the flesh of the eggplant away from the skin of the eggplant and place in a colander.  When all the eggplant is in the colander, press down with a spoon or other flat utensil to squeeze the extra water out of the eggplant.  The hard part is now over.  Throw all of this with the other ingredients into the food processor.  Blitz.  Place in lovely bowl and garnish with olives.  Serve to your generous mother who has been playing with your children for several hours… or to whomever you like.  Delish.

Eggplant drawing a big zero for you, but you are intrigued by my take on condiments?  We’ve got plenty to spread around….

Big Sis serves up some artichoke dip and white bean and greens spread to give sandwiches a kick.
Craving another Middle Eastern favorite? We’ve got hummus galore.
And last but not least, my perpetual favorite sunflower cheez spread.

Small Victories

It was NOT our best day.  Several home repair dilemmas have emerged simultaneously leaving us with limited and inconvenient bathing options.  Sunrise is creeping forward and my darling daughter believes in making the most of daylight.  Mommy and Daddy are not so quick to adjust their schedules and are both engrossed in good bedtime books, so we began our day of interrupted repairs with inadequate sleep.  My little sweetie also decided that today was one of THOSE days.  One of those days where she really is not interested in eating, or at least where she really is not interested in eating anything I provide.  I try not to get sucked into drama about it, but she’s not very pleasant to be around when she doesn’t eat… so you see the problem.  And a sleepy Mommy is probably not as clever in thinking of ways to deal with the situation.  So we finally arrived at dinner and quite honestly I was completely beat.  Done.  Finito.  Needless to say my extensive and totally awesome homemade dinner (homemade whole wheat tortillas and veggie chili) was not her favorite.  We struggled through without much drama, mostly because I was too tired to engage.  But wait, there is a good part to the story.  As we neared the end of dinner, I remembered that I bought some beautiful strawberries yesterday.  I also remembered that our fridge LOVES to freeze strawberries, so they shouldn’t wait.  I rinsed and destemmed them, brought a simple bowlful to the table.    I put them down and my wonderful daughter said, “Oh Mommy!  Is that dessert?”  And she meant it.  She was happy because we had a big luscious bowl of fresh strawberries with no cool whip, sprinkles, fruity goo, or high fructose corn syrup slop anywhere in sight.  She and her brother dug in and made great glorious real food-loving sounds.  Small victories in a bowl of strawberries.