Food for the New Year: Healthy Snacks
I’m not a huge fan of New Year’s resolutions, but every January I find myself saying, “I’m going to live healthier this year.” Although we already eat well balanced meals in our home, and I workout (occasionally), I struggle with the mid-day snacking and saying no to the bowl of microwave popcorn my husband likes to make after dinner. With that in mind, I’ve decided to stock our pantry with smart alternatives to the cheddar cheese crackers that somehow find their way onto my shelves every week. Now, instead of reaching for a bag of fat-laden snack food, I’ll be baking up a crispy batch of kale chips instead!
Below are some suggestions for low-calorie, high flavor tidbits to help you curb your appetite between meals, refuel after a workout, or beat the midnight munchies.
Note: With the exception of the Low-Fat Deviled Eggs (which she said made her tongue “ouchy”), all of these snacks have been taste-tested and toddler approved.
Low-Fat Deviled Eggs with a Kick!
Normally considered a picnic splurge, this low-fat version of the classic deviled egg can be enjoyed all year long without the guilt — or the ants! The addition of horseradish kicks up the flavor to help curb your appetite.
Serves 6 (serving size: 2 halves)
¼ cup low fat cottage cheese
2 Tbsp. low fat mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. prepared horseradish
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1 tsp. white wine vinegar
6 small celery leaves for serving (optional)
Place eggs in a single layer in a saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil over medium-high and cook for 12 minutes. Remove eggs from heat, and place in a bowl of ice-cold water. Let stand until cool enough to handle before peeling.
While eggs are cooling, mix cottage cheese and next 4 ingredients in a bowl with an hand blender, or in a small food processor until smooth.
Peel eggs and discard shells. With a wet knife, cut eggs lengthwise and scoop out yolk. Add egg yolks to cottage cheese mixture and stir until combined. Season with salt.
Fill eggs with yolk mixture and top with a celery leaf.
Deviled eggs can be covered and stored in the refrigerator for 1 day.
Kale is a wonderful source of calcium; potassium; vitamins A, C, and K; and provides anti-inflammatory benefits for the body — so it’s a great snack to counter some of those aches and pains you’ll likely experience from your new workout routine.
Serving size: It’s kale — eat as much as you want!
2 bunches of curly leaf kale (green or red, or a colorful mix of the two)
4 Tbsp. olive oil
½ tsp. Kosher salt
¼ tsp. fresh cracked pepper
½ tsp. of flaky sea salt, such as Maldon, or another of your favorite savory seasonings (eg. smoked paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, or Johnny’s Seasoning Salt)
Preheat oven to 350° and lightly spray three rimmed baking sheets with non-stick cooking spray. Fold the kale in half lengthwise, then with a sharp knife, cut the stem away from the leaves. Tear kale into 2″x2″ pieces, wash with cold water, lay flat on a clean kitchen towel and thoroughly pat dry. In a bowl, toss kale with olive oil and salt, then spread in a single layer onto baking sheets. Make sure the kale pieces are not too crowded, otherwise they will steam rather than dry out, so use a fourth sheet if necessary.
Sprinkle pepper evenly over kale, then bake for 15 minutes, or until crispy but not burned. Remove from oven and sprinkle with flaky sea salt or other desired seasoning. If there are any soft pieces of kale remaining, return to the oven and bake for an additional 2-4 minutes.
Let cool before eating. Kale can be stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Do not refrigerate.
These tasty little soy beans are packed full of protein, fiber, calcium, iron, and many of your essential daily vitamins and minerals, which just goes to show that good things really do come in small packages! (Edamame can be found in the freezer section of your grocery store, usually with the frozen vegetables. Look for edamame in their pods.)
Serves 2 (serving size: 1 ⅛ cup edamame)
2 ¼ cup edamame in their pods, cooked per package instructions
1 tsp. flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)
Place cooked edamame in a bowl and sprinkle with sea salt. With your teeth, squeeze soy beans from pods directly into mouth, discard pods. Smile. Repeat.
Quick Pickled Veggies
Nothing satisfies my munchies more than this crisp, tart salad. Try it by itself or as a lunchtime accompaniment to a healthy, low-fat tuna sandwich.
Serves 2 (serving size: 1 ½ cup salad)
3 cups mixed vegetables, julienned (carrots, celery, bell peppers, broccoli stems, cabbage, or whatever else you like)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
⅛ tsp. ground coriander (optional)
½ tsp. Kosher salt
Fresh cracked black pepper to taste
Place veggies in a serving bowl. In a measuring cup, whisk together remaining ingredients until thoroughly combined. Pour vinaigrette over veggies, toss and let stand for 10 minutes. Toss again, then serve.
Shortcut: Bags of precut matchstick vegetables are available in the produce section of most grocery stores.
Blue Cheese and Almond Dates
Dates and blue cheese have been found to benefit the intestinal tract, so swap out your evening dessert for these tasty little treats and you’ll not only beat your sweet tooth, you’ll go to bed with a happy stomach as well.
Serves 4 (serving size: 3 dates)
12 large pitted dates
4 Tbsp. blue cheese
2 Tbsp. slivered almonds, coarsely chopped
Slice dates open with a sharp knife. Fill each date with 1 tsp. of blue cheese, then lightly squeeze date closed. Roll open side of date in diced almonds so that they cover the blue cheese. Enjoy after dinner with an ounce of your favorite digestif, such as brandy, grappa, ouzo, or dry sherry.