Follow by Email


Meadow Muffin Gardens logo

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Healthy, Happy Snacking!

Every New Year we have very good intentions on improving our diets with healthier food choices. Meal planning can be easy enough but the downfall is usually with snacking. If your family is like mine, the first thing they do when they get home is open up the cabinet door and blankly stare. Hungry or not I think it is all part of the de-stressing routine of coming home. 
In our attempts to steer away from processed foods, this involves the discipline of preparation of my part. Rather than just grabbing chips, pretzels and sweets off the store shelves to keep the family in supply, try planning ahead and stock up on supplies in bulk to make some of these healthy snacks. It is so easy to buy all this stuff and then you never find the time to do anything with it. But once you get comfortable with the recipes, making them won't be such a big deal.
Trail Mix
Trail mixes are ideal lunch box, travel snacks or just a healthy concoction to keep handy in the food cabinet.  You can easily find prepackaged assortments at the grocery store, but if you want more control over what is in it then gather the ingredients separately and put it together yourself. 
Some suggestions:
 Raisins, Peanuts, M&M's, Sesame Sticks, Roasted Soybeans, Roasted Sunflower seeds, Roasted Pumpkin seeds, Roasted nuts such as Almonds, Walnuts, or Cashews,  Chocolate covered Raisins, Chocolate covered Peanuts, Banana Chips, Dried Pineapple chunks, Dried Cranberries or Blueberries, Dried Apple bits or rings. 
 
Peanut Butter Chocolate Coated Sesame Balls 
These are wonderful snacks for children and adults alike. They are a nutritious sweet treat without the empty calories of a candy bar.
                                                      3/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Combine these three ingredients in a medium sized bowl.
3/4 cup skim milk powder
1 cup oatmeal
Combine these two ingredients in another bowl.
Gradually add the oatmeal/milk powder mixture to the peanut butter mixture, blend thoroughly, mix will be stiff, may need your hands.
1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds (toast seeds in a preheated 200 degree oven for 20 minutes)
2 tbsp. boiling water
Blend the seeds and the hot water into the mixture.
Using your hands, shape into 1-inch balls. (The mix will be sticky so wet your hands periodically with cold water.)
Roll the balls around in a bowl containing finely chopped nuts, almond meal, wheat germ or ground flax seeds.
Place the balls onto wax paper lined baking sheets. 
Place the baking sheets in the freezer for 30 minutes.
Place a pound of chocolate coating wafers or a 12 oz. bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips along with 1 tbsp. shortening into a small microwave safe bowl (or melt using a double boiler).
Microwave for 1 1/2 minutes, stir, another 30 seconds, stir till smooth.
Dip the balls into the melted chocolate using a strong sandwich pick. Place onto the wax paper lined baking sheets to harden.
This batch makes about 3 dozen.
 Homemade Granola

This granola is very versatile. You can add or substitute ingredients to your liking. Granola is an excellent staple to keep in your cabinets. It can be served as a very healthy breakfast cereal, a lunch box trail mix type snack, or a topping for yogurt or ice cream.
6 cups rolled oats
2 cups shredded coconut
1 cup wheat germ
1 cup chopped nuts (almonds or pecans)
1 cup hulled sunflower seeds
1 cup sesame seeds
1 cup roasted soybeans
1 cup raisins or dried cranberries (don't add these until after baking or they may get too hard)
Combine the above dry ingredients in a large bowl.
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup honey
2 tsp. vanilla extract
Combine the above wet ingredients in a small saucepan. Heat and stir till smooth.
Stir the heated wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and blend well. Spread the granola out onto two greased cookie sheets. If cookie sheets are small use a third, you don't want the granola layers too thick. Bake at 250 degrees F for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, till golden. Stir in the raisins. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Roasted Chickpeas
Chickpeas are best known served on salad bars or hummus but they also make a nutritious snack for guilt-free nibbling.
 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas
2 tablespoons olive oil
Be your own judge with how much to use of the following spices:
Paprika, Cumin, Black pepper, Salt and Cayenne pepper
Some people prefer simply Salt and Garlic powder.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
Rinse and dry the chickpeas.
Toss with the olive oil and spices till well covered.
Bake until lightly golden and crispy, about 20 - 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Cool completely before storing in a tight container.

Baked Kale Chips
Kale is a cold season leafy green vegetable available at the best price from November through March. It is such a nutritious vegetable that it is called "King of the greens".  It can be eaten raw in salads, added to soups or sauteed in olive oil as a side dish. For those who turn their noses up at this member of the Brassica family, try this healthy alternative to potato chips.

Fresh kale is very voluminous but when cooked or baked, it shrinks down considerably. To make it worth your while expect to use a few bunches. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Wash the kale and tear the leaves into large pieces. Tear them off of the tough inner stems.
Dry off as much of the excess water as possible. A salad spinner works well for this or dab well with paper towels.
Put kale pieces into a large bowl.
Toss with olive oil, starting with about 1 tablespoon and be your own judge. You want a light coating but not too much or the chips will be greasy and limp.
Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper to your own taste preference.
Layer the leaves onto a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Lay them in a single layer so as not to be overlapping. They won't bake uniformly if too close.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, checking periodically to toss and make sure they aren't about to burn.
Remove from the oven and cool.


Enjoy