Snack Attack! 3 Ways to Makeover Your Munchies
When it comes to healthy eating, snacking can be your enemy or your ally. Many studies show that eating a healthy snack every few hours can help maintain stable blood sugar levels, keep your metabolism humming and prevent over-eating at mealtimes. But eating the same healthy snacks day-in, day-out can get stale fast.
Instead of reaching for the same old apple, string cheese or yogurt cup, mix up your snack selection with one of these easy recipes. Whether you’re looking for a quick bite to stave off afternoon stomach growls, or something to munch on while watching your favorite show, these snacks are a healthy way to keep your hunger at bay.
Winter Veggie Chips
Instead of fat and sodium-laden potato chips, try baking up a tray of these vegetable crisps. Pick up a selection of veggies from your local farmer’s market for a medley of colors and flavors.
To make: Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash two pounds of assorted root vegetables (beets, sweet potatoes, parsnips, rutabagas, carrots, Jerusalem artichoke and turnips all work well). Organic vegetables are preferred, as you will be eating the skin. Slice 1/8-inch thick, then place on a lightly oiled baking tray. Mist with an olive oil spray and sprinkle with coarse salt.
Want even more flavor? Sprinkle with minced fresh rosemary or thyme, or toss with a mixture of ground cumin, paprika and a pinch of cayenne for a spicy kick. Bake the chips for 18 to 20 minutes, flipping halfway, until the edges are crisp and golden brown. Makes 4 servings.
Note: A mandolin slicer or Japanese “Benriner” will help you slice thin, even chips.
Veggie sources: Northwest farmers markets are stocked full of tubers and root vegetables this time of year.
For those who prefer sweet over salty, this recipe is for you. Drizzled with heart-healthy dark chocolate and rolled in toasted hazelnuts, these frozen bananas will remind you of chocolate and peanut-coated drumstick pops, but without all the excess sugar and fat.
To make: Melt 1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl at 50 percent power for 30 seconds. Stir, then continue to microwave for 15-second increments, stirring each time, until the chocolate is just melted. Meanwhile, coarsely chop 1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts and place in a wide shallow bowl. Peel two ripe bananas, cut in half to make 2- to 3-inch long pieces, and place on a wax paper-lined baking sheet. Spoon the chocolate over each, using the back to lightly but evenly coat each banana. Roll in the nuts and place back on the baking sheet, then freeze for 2 hours until solid. Eat immediately, or keep frozen in a zip-top bag for up to a month. Makes 4 choco-pops.
Chocolate and Nut Sources: For some of the best chocolate in the country, check out Theo Chocolate, a local Seattle chocolatier that distributes to stores throughout the Northwest.
Savory Stovetop Popcorn
Microwave popcorn is easy, but even so-called “healthy” popcorn can be loaded with sodium and artificial ingredients. Instead, try making it on your stovetop and sprinkle with spices for a new spin on a classic snack.
To make: Place 1/3 cup corn kernels in a large, heavy-bottomed pot with a lid. Coat with a tablespoon of grape seed or light olive oil (don’t use extra virgin, as it has a low smoking point). Heat over medium-high heat with the lid somewhat ajar to let steam escape. When the first kernels start to pop, begin watching closely, shaking the pan every few seconds to prevent the kernels from burning. Once the popping slows (2 to 3 seconds between pops) turn off the heat and empty into a large bowl.
For the purist, simply mist with an olive oil spray and sprinkle with salt. Have a sweet tooth? Shake on a mixture of cinnamon and powdered stevia for a healthy alternative to caramel corn. For rich flavor and an added nutritional kick, top your popcorn with brewers yeast and a light grating of Parmesan cheese. Makes 4 servings.
Popcorn sources: For local popcorn, check out Kukuruza in Seattle, which sells non-GMO kernels that pop up large and fluffy. Or buy organic kernels in bulk at natural food stores such as PCC or New Seasons.
How do you healthify your snacks? Share your ideas with us by leaving a comment below.