Seasonal Chef: Healthy Snacks

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Let me say right up front: I am the worst when it comes to snacking; but I am trying me level best to healthy about it, and find better ways to make healthy snacks. Faced with a bag of sour cream and onion chips and an apple, the chips will win hands down. (Embarrassing, but true.) After the partaking of that salty deliciousness I am overcome with guilt. Fat, salt … you get the picture. I have no one to blame by myself, although, I have wondered if the never-ending bags of chips and dips growing up had anything to do with it? Last year the Times did a fascinating article on The Extraordinary Science of Junk Food, that blew my mind. Even armed with the data, eating a healthy snack can elude me, and probably you, from time to time.

If you really look around you can always find some healthy snacks. Turning over products to see the salt and fat content  is very eye opening. Grocery stores have healthier products away from the usual suspects, so I always try to take a walk that way. But even the organic and so-called health foods can be high in sugar and sodium. Compare and contrast it all. I do have a few go-to things that satisfy my cravings: homemade popcorn with coconut oil and a touch of sea salt … nothing better in my mind. My friend Debbie Barnwell started a company called The 4:00 Cookie, which helps you fight that late afternoon urge. I always have a few of them waiting in the freezer.

Granola brittle ingredients

This past weekend I yanked out a miss mash of things from my cabinet and decided to see what I could do with it all. I was going to just put together a little granola but happened across a recipe on a gluten free blog site that described granola brittle. That sounded promising! I adapted the recipe slightly and the result was out of this world! The best part: it was done in under 30 minutes!

Granola Brittle ingredients

I made 2 different batches, one with 5 and another with 6 cups of various ingredients. The 5 cup batch was more “brittle-like.” The 6 cup batch more crumbly but just as crunchy. I used Carob Chips instead of regular chocolate chips and was surprised at how delicious they were.

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I tossed it with the equivalent of 1 cup of my liquid mix, which was made of raw (demarara) sugar, butter and Brown Rice Syrup, instead of the ubiquitous corn syrup.

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and baked for about 15-18 minutes. (Check after 15 minutes, it gets dark very fast.)

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Then layout on a Silpat or parchment paper, top with a little Maldon Salt flakes or a few grinds of Himalayan Pink Sea Salt to cool completely.

Break up into pieces and place in an airtight container.

While I can’t vouch that I won’t occasionally be reaching for those addictive salty chips, at least I’m making an attempt to be a bit better, with a delicious sweet and salty healthy snack! Click this link to see my recipe for Sweet and Salty Granola.

Buon Appetito!

One year ago: Ramp Pesto Pasta with Charred Tomatoes
  and Pickled Ramps and Vegetables
Two years ago: Ramps

 

Sweet and Salty Granola

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 5 - 6 cups

Adapted from The Gluten-Free Baking blog this sweet and salty granola cooks up in less than 30 minutes and is utterly delicious!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup raw (demerara) sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup brown rice syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3 cups pre-made granola, I like Nature's Path brand
  • 1 cup unsalted mixed nuts (walnut, almond, pistachio, hazelnut, pepita)
  • 1/2 cup carob chips
  • 1/2 - 1 cup golden raisin
  • 1/2 - 1 cup unsweetened coconut
  • Maldon salt flakes or Himalayan Pink sea salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a large rimmed cookie sheet with PAM.
  2. Place the sugar, butter, syrup, cinnamon and salt in a microwave safe bowl. Cook for 1 minute on high, stir and cook for another minute. Stir until the sugar is melted.
  3. In a large mixing bowl combine the rest of the ingredients. Measure 5 cups if you want a brittle-type granola and 6 cups for a crumbly granola, good for topping fruit or yogurt.
  4. Pour the melted liquid over the dry ingredients and stir to coat all the ingredients.
  5. Pour out on to the prepared baking sheet and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until it takes on a nice golden brown color.
  6. While it cooks place 2 Silpat sheets on the counter, or a large sheet of parchment paper. Once the granola reaches the color you desire removed from over and pour it out onto the Silpat or parchment paper and sprinkle with Maldon or Himalayan Pink salt.
  7. Cool completely and place in an airtight container.
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About Author

Seasonal Chef blogger Maria Reina comes to the world of food as a third career, spending a great portion of her adult life in the field of Human Resources. With her private company Bella Cucina Maria she is a personal chef, caterer and recreational cooking class teacher in Westchester. She's an avid food television watcher and cookbook collector, always looking for a new take on a traditional dish. In her free time she loves hanging out at local farmer's markets, chatting it up with the farmers and doing cooking demos with their seasonal ingredients. In addition to her blog, which is loaded with easy recipes, you can follow her on Facebook (Bella Cucina Maria), Twitter (Bellacucinam), Instagram (Bellacucinam) and Pinterest (Bellacucinam).

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