Archive for the ‘Snacks’ Category

Vitamin-A Packed Mango-Goji-Carrot Smoothie

Smoothies have turned out to be the neatest trick to getting more veggies into my diet.  Today I decided to experiment with a new vegetable (and a new color): carrots.

I’ve been pretty successful when matching the same color fruit and vegetable, so I opted for a mango-carrot smoothie.  To amp up the nutritional value and to make it more filling, I added goji berries, avocado, and chia seeds.

This smoothie is packed with Vitamin A.  So what’s the big deal about this vitamin?  Vitamin A helps maintain healthy skin, teeth, mucus membranes, and skeletal tissue, and it promotes good vision.  This smoothie delivers about 300% of your daily vitamin A needs – 1 cup of mango has 25% of your daily need for vitamin A, while 1/2 cup chopped carrots has over 200% and goji berries contain about 68% in 2 tablespoons.  Although Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin and thus can be toxic if ingested in large amounts, this is highly unlikely to happen from consuming foods (only from vitamins), as your body only converts the amount of Vitamin A that it needs.  That’s just another reason that, when possible, we should get our nutrients from whole foods, not vitamins!

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They key ingredients for the mango-goji smoothie.

Mango-Goji Smoothie

  • 1 large mango, peeled and cubed
  • 3 small or 1 large carrot, peeled (about 1/2 cup, chopped)
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 2 tablespoons goji berries
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 cup almond or coconut (or almond-coconut) milk
  • 2-3 ice cubes

Blend all ingredients in blender.  Enjoy!

Grapefruit-Ginger Jam

After checking out a new farmer’s market yesterday I came home loaded with fruit, including grapefruit, lemons, and strawberries.  With the citrus season soon coming to an end, I could not resist the offer of purchasing just-picked grapefruit at a price of 8 grapefruit for a dollar.  Faced with the reality that my fridge looked more like a garden/orchard than a refrigerator, I realized I would not be able to consume all of this fruit.

So I set out to preserve the grapefruit, thinking it would be delicious paired with ginger.  At first unsure of the difference between preserves, jam, jelly, and marmalade, I soon learned that I would be making jam.  It turns out that preserves use whole pieces of fruit, jellies use the fruit juice, and marmalade is made using the rind of the fruit as well as the pulp.  Since I would be using pieces of grapefruit, but not exactly whole pieces of fruit, I decided my recipe would be a jam.

I tried to follow a recipe, but most of the ones online called for steeping the whole grapefruit overnight, or boiling it whole for several hours.  I had made strawberry preserves before by simply boiling the fruit with sugar, and decided to do the same with the grapefruit.  For this recipe, you need to peel and remove the pith from the grapefruit and lemons and collect all of the juice and pulp in a large bowl.  This may feel like a somewhat tedious process when you are doing it, but it is worth it for the simplification of the recipe and will cut down on a lot of wait time.

The grapefruit-ginger jam is delicious mixed with plain Greek yogurt or on crackers.  Enjoy!

Grapefruit-Ginger Jam

Ingredients include grapefruit, lemons, and crystallized ginger (as well as sugar, not shown).

Ingredients include grapefruit, lemons, and crystallized ginger (as well as sugar, not shown).

Ingredients:

  • 4 large red grapefruit, juice and pulp only (skins and pith removed)
  • 1 lemon, juice and pulp only (skins and pith removed)
  • 1/2 cup finely diced crystallized ginger
  • 1 cup sugar

Directions:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.
  2. Simmer uncovered on medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 45 minutes or until thickened.
  3. Follow canning instructions – wash jars with hot soapy water, fill with the preserves (leaving 1/4-1/2 inch space at the rim), and immerse in boiling water for about 5 minutes (making sure the water covers the jar).
  4. Remove jars from boiling water and let your preserves cool.

Nut, Fruit, and Seed Energy Bars With Omega-3s

For a long time, I was addicted to Kind energy bars.  I loved the simple ingredients in their fruit and nut bars as well as the natural energy they gave me when I ate them before my workouts.  However, the habit became pretty expensive.  Furthermore, I felt limited by the selection, constantly wishing that more of their bars contained flax or chia seeds.  So what was a girl to do?  Bake her own bars, of course!

For this recipe, I customized this recipe for energy bars.  I have experimented with different types of dried fruits, and learned that anything works as long as I include at least 1/2 cup of dates or prunes and a bit of honey to hold everything together (when I first followed the recipe, the bars were kind of falling apart on me).

Since I had been wishing that more Kind energy bars contained omega-3 fatty acids, I added chia and flax seeds to this recipe.  According to WebMD, omega-3s are essential fatty acids that are not produced by the body, but that can be obtained only through food.  They reduce inflammation in the body, lower triglyceride levels, reduce overall risk of heart disease, and lower levels of depression.  Some studies have even found that they may reduce risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

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Nut, Fruit, and Seed Energy Bars With Omega-3s

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole raw almonds with skins
  • 1/2 cup dates
  • 1/4 cup dried apricots
  • 1/4 cup dried tart cherries
  • 1/4 cup fruit juice (preferably orange juice)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup unsalted pepitas (raw pumpkin seeds), unsalted
  • 1/4 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 1/8 cup flax seeds or ground flax seeds
  • 1/8 cup chia seeds

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line an 8 by 8 inch baking pan with aluminum foil and grease with nonstick baking spray (Pam), if desired.
  2. In a food processor, pulse the almonds and the dried fruit a few times until they are roughly chopped up.
  3. Add the juice, honey, and salt, and pulse to blend.
  4. Add the pepitas, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, and chia seeds and pulse to combine.
  5. Spread the mixture evenly on the baking pan.
  6. Bake for about 15 minutes, until golden at the edges.  Remove from the oven and let cool completely before cutting or breaking the bars apart into about 8 pieces.

Spicy Collard Chips with Lemon-Thyme

It’s Thursday.  My fridge is still overflowing with veggies from my intense farmer’s market and CSA shopping on Saturday, and I know that the countdown toward their demise has begun.  Knowing that I live with someone who will do anything possible to avoid consuming veggies of his own initiative, I knew I had to get creative.  So what’s a girl to do?  Inspired by overpriced kale chips I saw at Sprouts, I knew I had to convert a veggie into something called a chip!

I decided to work with some leafy greens – collard greens.  I looked at some recipes for collard greens online, and was inspired by this recipe for lemon-thyme collard greens to make my collard green chips.

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Spicy Collard Green Chips with Lemon-Thyme

Spicy Lemon-Thyme Collard Green Chips

Ingredients:

  • 10 leaves collard greens, stems removed and torn into 3-inch chunks
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small pinch red pepper flakes
  • 4 sprigs thyme, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice (I used key limes)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

1.) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2.) Separate the collard green leaves from the stems by holding the leaf in your left hand and tearing down along the stem with the right.  Tear the leaves into three-inch chunks.

3.) In a bowl, combine the leaves with the remaining ingredients and mix.

4.) Spread the leaves out in a single layer on two baking sheets lined with aluminum foil.

5.) Bake for about 7 minutes, or until crispy on the top.  Remove from the oven, flip over, and bake fora bout 5 minutes on the other side.

6.) Chips are ready when they are crispy.  If a few are still limp/soggy, remove the crispy ones to a bowl and return the limp ones to the oven for a few more minutes.

In my opinion, they are deliciously crunchy, spicy, and aromatic.  But the real test is: What will a potato-chip loving, meat-is-king husband say?

He tried them.  His verdict: “Mmmm… you could sell these.”

Who knew?  Chips – a whole new way to enjoy your veggies!