Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Snacks Galore!

Another challenge I've faced is finding snack foods that I can easily eat. It's really easy to depend on processed granola bars, cereals, chips, and cookies when living a gluten-filled life. Beyond that, any health article lately will tell you how great dairy products are for you, and express the benefit of eating yogurt. Well, being dairy free, I can't eat that either. So I had to get a little creative when it came to snack making. Over the course of the past year I've found a couple of trusty snacks that work really well, especially for when I would have to run out the door, are new and fun to try. The first snack that became something I quickly made every week was baked chickpeas. Not only are they easy to put together, they are extremely inexpensive (89 cents for a can!), very nutritious with tons of fiber and protein, which will make you feel fuller longer, and they are easy to transport!

Baked Chick Peas (Garbanzo Beans)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Drain one can of garbanzo beans and rinse, as needed. Then spread them evenly on a baking sheet. Bake in the oven for about 15 or 20 minutes, then flip them over, and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until to desired crunchiness. You can also spray off or grease the sheet before putting the beans on, but it is not necessary. Then you can just throw some salt on them and enjoy! You should store them in the fridge and they usually keep 7-10 days.
Another great discovery was that you can make pretty much any kind of bean this way (I also LOVE baked kidney beans), and it makes a really great and easy snack!

I was recently further experimented with the brilliance of baking in the oven to make healthy things taste even more appealing. Just yesterday I decided to explore what baked spinach would taste like.
What I did:
1. Preheat oven to about 375 or 400 degrees
2. Spray off baking sheet with cooking spray.
3. Spread spinach over surface of baking sheet.
4. Spray top of spinach as well.
Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes. The spinach should start to get crispy. I was a bit worried about my experiment but it actually ended up turning out great! They were really delicious and obviously nutritious (I keep reading about how important spinach is to eat all the time, so why not bake some up and snack on it!)

Another mini-meal/snack I would bring to classes last spring was a little combo I made up when I was trying to eat more flaxseed meal. It actually would end up being absolutely delicious, and unlike anything I'd ever had before. Like I've previously expressed, I firmly believe that Peanut Butter can make anything better, so of course there is an obligatory addition of peanut, or any other type of nut butter.

New Twist to Apples 'n' Peanut Butter
- 2 tablespoons of flaxseed meal
- about 1/4 cup of almond/soy/rice milk, to cover the flaxseed meal for it to be absorbed
- 1 small diced apple
- 1 big teaspoon of peanut butter
Mix all ingredients together, and you can either enjoy it immediately or let it sit for a while so that all of the milk is absorbed and it's really delicious! This has definitely become one of my go-to snacks when I want just a little something extra. it's a really great combination of carb, protein, and fat, so nutritiously it's a pretty good choice as well!

Beyond these snacks I have also made some important discoveries over the past year. For example, most potato chips and tortilla chips are gluten and dairy free (!), but I would recommend always double checking the label, you never know what they'll throw in there.. The chips discovery was BIG, because it meant that if I ever went to a party or other social gathering, I didn't have to wear the suit of armor and giant sign that said, "sorry, I can't eat anything because I have to obsessively check ingredients, and am allergic to all tasty, processed foods."
Another huge discovery was how great nuts and dried fruit are. I have become OBSESSED with sugar-free dried mango. I also have been known to make my own trail mix of cranberries, raisins, chocolate chips (..:) ), cashews, and almonds.

You almost have to convince yourself of how much healthier your snacks are for you. So we can't have granola bars, but we can still have so many things like fresh fruit and vegetables (with hummus!), nuts, dried fruit, beans, peanut butter (!) The possibilities can be endless, it just requires some creativity at times.

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