Tag Archives: healthy snacks

The Easiest Watermelon Snack Ever!

10 Sep

Thanks to my beloved, handy-dandy, double-sided melon baller from Pampered Chef (the other end hulls strawberries and cores tomatoes) my big first-grader now has a new favorite way to snack. He just pulls a quartered watermelon out of the fridge, sets it down in front of himself on a napkin and starts cutting in. He sometimes makes many at a time and puts them in a bowl and sometimes just pops them directly as he scoops them. Independence never tasted better, nor made a mother happier….

Little hands can easily manage this task.

Little hands can easily manage this task.

Ah! Summer fruits!

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Kale Chips – Crunchy, Tasty, Healthy, and EASY

28 May

My friend Carolyn has been telling me about how good kale chips are. I kind of found it hard to believe. Kale? Really?

Kale, if you don’t know, is one of those virtuous leafy greens that often confuse you in the supermarket: Is it chard? Is it kale? Is it collards? What do I do with it? And is it going to smell up my kitchen if I try it?

Really, kale is simplicity itself to use. It’s the bumpy looking one with curly edges and a stem that is not very thick (chard’s stems are more noticeable and quite often red or yellow – as in rainbow chard). Rinse well, cut out the stem and cook it much the way you would spinach, just cook it a bit longer, as it is denser and tougher. I don’t use it raw. It is a cool weather crop, meaning that if you have a patch of dirt, you can grow it even in winter, which is a big plus if you are big into seasonal eating.

Now Carolyn loves good food, so I knew she couldn’t be making it up, however odd kale chips sounded to me. And the more I thought about it, the more I considered the Asian seaweed strips I like so much. Wouldn’t it be similar?

So I got myself a bunch of kale – about 8 oz, give or take — from Sang Lee out in the North Fork and gave it a try.

Had to wrestle this from the table in order to get a shot of the shrapnel!

The results were a revelation! The kale chips were crunchy and had a slight, but pleasant bitterness, tempered by the salt. My parents and John the Painter who happened to be doing some painting with my dad downstairs gave it a try – Leandro was not having it – and we made short work of the whole tray. In fact, my pictures are pretty thin on the actual kale because in my eagerness to try them, I forgot to take any photos until we had almost cleaned them out!

I will be planting kale in the late summer and I will be making this all winter long for my late-night movie snack! Thank you Carolyn!

What was left when I remembered to take a picture!

Kale Chips

1 bunch kale (about 8 oz. – can be increased)

1 Tbs oil (I prefer extra virgin olive oil, but you can play around with flavors)

2 pinches salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Lay kale pieces on parchment paper, leaving space between all of them – no touching! Drizzle with oil, and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until leaves are crisp. Serve.

Party Snacks: Stove-Top Toasted Garbanzos

22 Apr

(Happy Earth Day, everyone! I am not trying to ignore it, nor am I not cooking at all at home, but I have had so many professional and personal events in the past week that I admit to not doing much new or innovative in the kitchen. I organized and moderated two events on campus; was the keynote speaker for an annual gala of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese, Metro NY chapter – what a terrific group of people!; — plus my teaching responsibilities; my son — we just went to a performance of Peter and the Wolf today in NYC and had to negotiate around the rain and the E line being nonoperational- ick!; the dictionary; which should be available this week as an e-book on Amazon and at the Apple store, more on that later;…in short, I have been up to my neck in it! However, I’ve always got something in my back pocket to tell you about, and here it is. Simple and basic, but delicious. And more excitement later in the week as I catch my breath!)

This is a nifty stove-top snack that is relatively — actually quite, very, absolutely – healthy. Except for the part where it gets addictive and people starting pulling the bowl towards themselves and not sharing (Yes, that was me). It can actually get kind of ugly…you might want individual little ramekins as a preventative measure.

Thanks to Beth for the inspiration and Ailish for the fearless cumin seasoning! I think you will like the Indian inflections in this one, but you could go completely Mediterranean as well.

For an oven-roasted version click here.

Stove-Top Toasted Garbanzo Snack

1 pint presoaked chick-peas*, patted dry (or a 28 oz. can of chick peas, rinsed, drained and patted dry)

generous gratings of salt and pepper (Mediterranean seasoned sea salt blend is really good here)

2 or more heaping Tbs cumin and garam masala (or other spice powder blend that you like)

Heat a heavy skillet on medium high until quite hot. Add chick peas and seasonings and toast until starting to scorch, , at least ten minutes, stirring or tossing very frequently. When toasted all around, adjust seasoning, pour into a bowl and serve as a party snack or accompaniment to cocktails (as you might serve peanuts) for two to four people.

*To soak garbanzos from dry to get a pint, rinse and pick over about 10 oz of dry. Place in a bowl with a tsp salt and abundant water (to cover by several inches). In the morning, change the water. In the afternoon, drain the chick peas and rinse. Place in a pot with water to cover, bring to a boil (scraping the foam off the top) and then simmer at a gentle bubble for an hour or until desired texture is reached. You will never get the same softness as canned, but is that what you really want?

Ice Pops (so simple, it’s almost stupid)

30 Mar

From left: apple; cranberry-pomegranate; orange-mango

Here comes the warm weather (I hope, anyway) and with it powerful thirsts. 

For playdates and general snacks, I always have  home-made ice pops in the freezer. They remind me of the limber my abuelita (grandmother) used to make for us when we spent part of our summer with her in Puerto Rico, although she made hers in ice cube trays. She’d fill the trays with different juices, cover the tray with foil and stick sturdy toothpicks through the foil for handles. They were a bit precarious and our hands and arms ended up sticky with juice, but we loved them (and she got us to try different tropical juices that way).

Today I have some ice pop molds from IKEA (I believe they cost $1 for six molds in a little tray) that I keep rotating and filling. I do half water/half juice (because fruit juices have loads of sugar too, albeit natural). Once they have frozen, you can take them out of the tray and lay them wherever they fit in your freezer.

It’s a terrific alternative to ice cream or the commercial colored sugar water in tubes that we often overdose our kids on at this time of year. It’s why Leandro got out of the apple juice-only cycle and into more varied flavors (Abuelita’s wisdom lives on).

I haven’t yet tried to add vodka, as I am afraid I might hand the wrong pops to the kids in a playdate frenzy, but I bet you could!

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