18 healthful snacks, better for you, better for your wallet

It’s hard to resist the urge to snack, especially when those mid-afternoon cravings hit and dinner is still hours away. If there are kids in the picture, then snacks are almost a necessary part of the day’s meal plan.

When you choose healthful, whole food snacks you don’t have to feel guilty when you reach for a quick bite to eat between meals. Best of all, you can save a lot of money by passing up the potato chips and packaged snacks for simple, homemade snacks that are better for you and better for your wallet.

healthy snacks simple bites

 

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Preserved Lemon Quinoa with Shaved Brussels, Toasted Walnuts

So we find ourselves at the beginning of a new year, which is the time everyone resolves to eat better, get fit, improve their relationships and financial situations, and find an occupation with purpose.

Not one for resolutions myself, I am fond of the clean slate idea. A new year for a more intentional way of living. For me, while I do well feeding my family and friends – I even named my own website to that end – I find it more difficult to take care of myself.

I am more than capable of packing up four separate lunches for the kids and sending them out the door, but when it comes to tearing myself away from work and my to-do list at lunchtime, I am prone to simple snacking or skipping it altogether. It’s almost as if I associate the care and feeding of myself as a social activity best done with others.
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How to make simple chia pudding

I made an impulsive purchase the other day. It wasn’t a bar of chocolate or a box of cookies, but rather a bag of chia seeds. Yep, this former chef-turned-food-blogger sampled chia seeds for the first time.

I’m not sure if I should sheepishly admit that I haven’t used chia before now, or be proud that I held out on this health food trend for as long as I did. Either/or, it is safe to say I’m completely hooked now.

Chia seeds are a powerhouse of nutrients, containing omega 3 fatty acids, protein, fiber, and minerals including calcium- up to three times more than a serving of milk. Unlike flax seed, they don’t have to be ground in order for you to absorb the nutrients. Superfood? Perhaps.

I’m sold on this new-to-me ingredient and have taken steps to stock my pantry with a few bags. I buy chia seeds at my local natural foods store, but have also seen them in pretty much every grocery store, and of course on Amazon.

I hear chia can be used as an egg substitute in baking (which sounds kinda complicated) or merely sprinkled into smoothies (much simpler), but I’ve been enjoying them daily in a chilled, creamy pudding.

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Brussels Sprouts Nachos

That’s quite a mouthful, don’t you think?

We had a little debate in our home. Do you say ‘Brussels Sprouts Nachos’ or ‘Brussels Sprout Nachos’? The latter rolls off the tongue a little easier, but I think the former is correct.

It’s hard to know for sure; I haven’t seen any recipes like this before. It came about one evening last week when Danny worked late and I fed ‘n bed the kids, then we convened for a bite of supper together. It was hardly a date night, with both of our laptops open, but the silence was blissful all the same.

Uninspired to cook, I scrounged for our dinner and came up with half a bag of black bean tortilla chips, extra sharp cheddar, the remains of a Thai pepper…and a basket of firm, young brussels sprouts.

Brussels sprouts nachos is now a thing in our house. Or rather, Zesty Lime Brussels Sprouts Nachos with Sharp Cheddar and Black Bean Tortilla Chips.

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How to make homemade microwave popcorn in two easy steps

On Tuesday evening this week, I pushed back my chair and closed my laptop with a sigh after putting the first two thousand words of the cookbook down on virtual paper.

I was ravenous; there is something about transferring a small part of yourself into writing that leaves one feeling mentally drained. Satisfied, but peculiarly empty.

I thought of the quickest snack possible and tipped a quarter cup of popcorn kernels into a paper sandwich bag. I slid it into the microwave and exactly two minutes later was wolfing down popcorn. A sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of melted butter was all I needed to transform it into a gourmet treat.

With a glass of apple cider and my popcorn, I tiptoed upstairs, past the rooms housing three sleeping children, and to our loft, where Danny was still awake.

How to make homemade microwave popcorn

“Two thousand words”, I said, as I sank onto the bed with a groan. “Do you know what this means? I’ve started.”

Through mouthfuls of popcorn, I offered every cliche I could think of related to beginning. I’m out of the gate. I’m off and away. I’ve set sail.

Danny didn’t seem quite as struck as I was with the magnitude of my commencement, but he hadn’t witnessed my internal sluggishness leading up to this point. I have been busy, ohmyyes, but busy with everything except writing a cookbook.

The pantry has had a rigorous clean out and restocking. My kitchen stove has been deemed slightly above useless and a replacement has been researched. I’ve taken a roll call of the pots, pans and casseroles in my kitchen and made a list of missing members. A kitchen timer has been procured, as well as two thermometers – meat and candy. One must be precise when recipe testing for a cookbook.

I’ve even ordered a quilted table runner from New Zealand, for goodness sake, although that -maybe, just maybe- was a random Etsy impulse buy. It’s as though I’ve been nesting – only this baby is words, photos and recipes.

In retrospect, I see now that it all had to be done (except for the table runner, perhaps) before I could start the book in earnest. Like decluttering an old work desk before sitting down to compose a new piece of writing, I’ve been organizing both my thoughts and my kitchen.

Here’s hoping the gears are sufficiently oiled and all the moving parts will function as a whole as I embark on this project.

For now, I offer a bowl of popcorn, easily made, free of preservatives, and popped in your microwave.

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