Archive for ‘Snacks’

March 16, 2013

St. Patrick’s Day Fruit Rainbow

IMG_3100Well I finally joined Pinterest and just in time.  I found this cute St. Patrick’s Day Fruit Rainbow idea (you can see the original picture here).

We gave it a try today.  My girl’s were able to do everything themselves except cut the mango.  They even had the cute idea of making the pot of gold from black play dough.  Once we finally gave the go ahead to start eating, it vanished so fast I thought the leprechauns took it! Pair this with Irish Soda Bread and you are set for a fun St. Patrick’s Day.

November 23, 2011

The Stain-Free Way to Remove the Seeds of a Pomegranate

Pomegranates, sometimes referred to as “The Jewels of Autumn,” are steeped in tradition and symbolism.  Just looking at its crowned top, beautiful shape and skin and opening it up to see what appear to be hundreds of jewels (the arils) makes you feel like you are opening a treasure from the past.  And in reality you are.  Pomegranates were the first fruit to be cultivated nearly 4,000 years ago.  They have traveled the globe and are an important part of many cultures, religions, ceremonies, history, and art.

I have a childhood connection to pomegranates.  Our neighbor had a tree and would allow us to pick and eat many of his pomegranates.  It is probably the first fruit I ever enjoyed freshly harvested. I had no idea that in addition to enjoying its beautiful color and taste, I was also eating a nutritious super food.

Pomegranates are rich in antioxidants, have been shown to lower cholesterol, and contain not one but three types of polyphenols (which help prevent cancer and heart disease).  They also have vitamin C, potassium, and fiber (when you eat the crunchy part of the seed).  The high nutritional value has led to the selling of pomegranate juice in most grocery stores.

Buying the juice can be more appealing than buying a raw pomegranate, because obtaining the arils of this royal fruit is actually a bit overwhelming.  One wrong move and you or your kitchen wall will get squirted with its permanent dye.  Here is a method I use that will allow you to stay stain-free and make it safe for your children to help as well:

The Stain-Free Way to Remove the Seeds of a Pomegranate

* Cut off both ends of the pomegranate (with a paper towel underneath to protect the cutting surface from its dye).

* Score the outside, making slice marks just barely through the peel (perhaps 5 or 6 slits). This will help you more easily break it apart in the next step.

* Submerge the pomegranate in a large bowl of water and start breaking the pomegranate apart to gather the arils.  The fruit will drop to the bottom while the white part and the skin will float to the top.  Submerging it in the water will stop any of its staining sprays from reaching you.

* Skim the white part and peel floating on top and discard it.

* Pour the fruit into a strainer and pick out the remaining white bits.

* Place the arils in a dish and serve.   They can be eaten plain (my favorite), or served in salads, drinks, dips, or on top of desserts.

October 16, 2011

Monster Mouth

Genevieve made this yummy, edible, and healthy Halloween craft in her first grade class.  She wanted to make it again the following week and requested I put it in my blog, so here it is:

1) Put a bit of yogurt on a plate and use the bottom of a spoon to swirl it down flat.

2) Cut an apple and use two slices to shape a mouth.  She likes green because then it really looks like a monster.

3) Place white yogurt covered raisins to look like the monster’s teeth.

You can give it one or two layers of teeth.  I think Genevieve just likes to get as many yogurt raisins as she can. Another variation it to use peanut butter, with mini marshmallows as the teeth.  No matter how the outcome looks, kids really love it.  And it makes a pretty perfect after school snack.

October 8, 2011

Healthy Homemade Kettle Corn

Kettle corn is one of my favorite snacks!  You can actually make kettle corn at home; you don’t have to wait for the fair.  I am going to show you a healthy version, but if you are looking for a treat rather than a healthy snack, simple add more oil and sugar.

Popcorn is an inexpensive and healthy snack (as long as it isn’t slathered in sugar or butter), so it is worth adopting as a snack for the family.  You will want to stay away from microwave popcorn and  most of the prepared stuff in the chip aisle (if you can pronounce all the ingredients it is probably an okay purchase).  Your best choice is air popped, and stove popped(the method I am about to explain) comes in second. Popcorn is considered a whole grain.  One cup of air popped popcorn contains only 20 calories, a whopping 7 grams of fiber, and 4 grams of protein!

I like to use different types of healthy oils and not stick to olive oil all the time.  Coconut oil has a yummy taste when making popcorn and can withstand the heat used to cook the kernels.  All oils have a smoke point–a temperature which when exceeded will diminish the oil’s nutritional qualities and actually introduce harmful free radicals to the body.  Another reason to use coconut oil is its wonderful health benefits.  Studies have shown it to increase metabolism, provide anti-fungal and anti-bacterial protection both internally and externally, help mental clarity, balance blood sugar, and much more.  Considering its yummy taste, its ability to be heated at high temperatures, and its health benefits, it is a good choice for popping popcorn on the stove.

The directions are under the picture on the slideshow, but sometimes they can be hard to read, so here they are as well:

(1) Put 1 T Coconut oil in a saute pan with a lid.

(2) Heat the pan to medium high and place two popcorn kernels in the pan.

(3) While the pan is heating get out a big bowl and measure ½ cup of kernels (start with 1/4 cup if you have a smaller pan) and 2 packets of Truvia (a natural sweetener) or 2 T of sugar.

(4) When the kernels pop, you know the pan is at the right temperature to pop the popcorn.

(5) Dump in the popcorn kernels and sprinkle the Truvia or sugar on top of them.

(6) Cover with a lid and shake the pan back and forth to move the kernels around a bit.

(7) Keep shaking the pan and when the popping slows down, and the majority of the kernels seem to be popped, dump the popcorn into a big bowl.

(8) Sprinkle the popcorn with salt.

(9) Enjoy!

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October 4, 2011

Pistachios – How to Open Them

If you are a pistachio lover like me, you are well aware that you lose around 15% of your precious and expensive pistachios because some of the shells are too tightly closed to pry open with your fingers.  I have broken many nails trying to get at that magnificent meaty nut, but I eventually give up and throw the ‘unopenables’ away.  This was my sad reality until I learned that you can use another pistachio shell to help pry them open.   It takes a little practice, but you basically hold the bottom of the shell you are trying to open, and use the bottom lip of another pistachio to push up on the top lip of the one you are trying to open. It works pretty well, but I think you need a nut cracker for the shells that have a small opening on the side rather than the front; this trick will not help with shells as stubborn as those. That said, I am still very excited about this trick and think it is worth knowing, if only to salvage a few more pistachios out of the batch.

September 19, 2011

Edible Kiwi Skin

Did you know that the skins on kiwi fruit are edible? I had no idea eating the kiwi with its skin is actually common practice in places like New Zealand until my friend Janelle offered me one.  As I looked at the hairy skin, I took it as a dare.  “All right, I’ll do it!” I said.  I ate it quickly at first, and then slowed down as I realized this was really quite good.  I imagined how much time I would save in the future and how much more of the fruit I would eat (since I am not so hot at peeling kiwi, and by the time I am done, there is only about half of the original fruit left). I decided to do some research and learned that kiwi skin contains high levels of flavonoids, insoluble fiber, and antioxidants.  On the other hand, the skin holds most of the pesticides (if they have been used) and pollution (if grown in areas with a lot of traffic). So basically, you can only eat the skins of organic kiwi.  So next time you see an organic kiwi, why not try eating it with the skin?  Go ahead, I dare ya!

September 4, 2011

Sprouts & Hummus – A Perfect Partnership

Sprouts are easy to grow, but hard to figure out how to eat.  Try this quick snack.  So simple, so yummy, and very healthy!

* 1 Corn Thin, rice cake, or whole wheat pita

* A thin spread of your favorite hummus

* Sprouts (you can grow these at home, or buy them from the store)

That’s it!  Even my kids eat them.  Enjoy!

(To learn how to grow sprouts, watch my slideshow here.)

August 27, 2011

The Simple Deviled Egg

When I was learning how to make deviled eggs, I was overwhelmed by the long list of ingredients and crazy amounts of mayonnaise.   That was until I attended a party and had my friend Sarah’s deviled eggs.  They were perfect.  I asked her how she made them.  It was so simple, I’ve never changed recipes and I can always remember it. They are a cost effective snack/side, and using much less mayonnaise than typical recipes do keeps them quite healthy.

Boil as many eggs as you like, peel and slice in half, put yolks in a bowl and add:

* 1 T of mayonnaise or so, start with a little (and work your way up)

* salt to taste

* A little squirt of mustard if you like

Mix to desired texture, add back into the sliced egg white, and sprinkle with paprika. Sometimes I like to add a slice of my favorite type of pickle in the bottom of the egg white before adding the egg yolk mixture.  It adds a nice surprise as well as flavor and crunch.

An interesting idea for those of you who like to avoid egg yolks is to stuff the egg white with hummus instead of the yolk mixture.

August 26, 2011

Whole Food Snack Ideas

Here are some ideas of simple whole food snacks.

  • Hard-boiled or deviled eggs
  • Kale chips (300 degrees for 20 minutes with EVOO & salt)
  • Scrambled eggs (make a large pan and store, are still good when reheated)
  • Rice cakes with nut butters or hummus (can add home-grown sprouts on top)
  • Whole wheat english muffins (with no additives) with nut butter
  • Plain popcorn (my kids eat it this way just fine, I’m the only one having a hard time)
  • Fruits and nuts, or sliced fruit dipped in nut butters (specifically apples or bananas)
  • Dried fruit with raw unsalted nuts (raisins, pineapple, apricots, etc.)
  • Homemade sweet potato or normal potato fries
  • Roasted cauliflower
  • Power Balls (equal parts honey, nut butter, and protein powder, rolled in coconut, granola, or rice krispies)
  • String cheese and Triscuits
  • Hummus or Cashew Dip with cut up veggies (snap peas, carrots, jicama, broccoli, cucumbers, etc.)
  • Whole wheat mini bagels and cream cheese
August 23, 2011

Green Drinks

I have been making green drinks almost daily since 2008.  I really believe in them, and think they are probably the easiest and tastiest way to put essential greens into your diet.  There are about one million ways to make a green drink, but I keep coming back to this simple recipe.

* 1-2 cups of water

* Spinach lightly packed to the top of the blender (you can also add a mix of spinach and another green like chard, kale, beet greens, etc.)

* 0-2 packets Truvia (a natural sweetener, I don’t believe in artificial sweeteners, but if this freaks you out, add a “spoonful of sugar” or honey, or just more Orange Juice). I make these a bit sweet so my kids will drink them.

* 1/6 of a can of Orange Juice Concentrate (I like the kind with Calcium)

* Blend until it looks creamy green.

* Add 1-3 cups of frozen fruit. The more you add the thicker and colder it will be, kind of like a shake. (I would add a lot if you are just starting to introduce this to your kids. You want them to really like the taste. Later, you can add less fruit and more greens as the family gets use to the taste. We like blueberries, strawberries, peaches, pineapple, grapes, etc.).

Blend and enjoy!  You can also sneak in a few things that you find hard to add to your diet that can easily be covered up by the green drink’s flavor.  For example, I often put in ground flaxseed. You will find that green drinks can be quite tasty and a real pick me up.  Be sure to wash your blender out quickly as well as the cup & straw.  It is a real pain to wash out later.

Green Drinks are the best way I know to “help the medicine go down.”