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5 Healthy and Tasty Summer Snacks

Posted: June 23rd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Healthy Snacks | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Have you noticed yourself aimlessly eating as you prepare your dinner? Maybe a few bites of something as you gather your ingredients from the fridge. A little piece of cheese… A spoonful of peanut butter… A few tears of the loaf of bread that you have to eat with your meal which turns into eating half the loaf?

Although I prefer to eat three square meals, I find that a small afternoon snack often helps reduce my tendency to munch before dinner. And I don’t even think about those ‘100-calorie snack packs’ which leave me hungry and craving the real thing- my snacks are real food that pack in nutrition rather than the calories.

Here are my current five favorite summer snacks.

1. Oatmeal parfait – In a small container, layer 1/2 cup raw rolled oats, with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 cup blueberries, and 1/2 cup plain or vanilla yogurt. For a hint of added sweetness, add a tablespoon of real maple syrup. You can make this in the morning and take it to work with you for the afternoon – it tastes better if the yogurt has time to soften the oats.

2. Vegetable and Hummus Bento – Chop up celery, carrots, red pepper, zucchini sticks, or any vegetable you have on hand, and place in a small tuperware or lock ‘n lock. In a small muffin tin place a quarter cup hummus, nestle it in between the vegetables, and dip! (You might notice in the photo above, I added up a crumbled up Wasa cracker and a small piece of dark chocolate to add a little variety. Tasty!)

3. Mint Melon Agua Fresca – In a blender, place 1/2 a melon (honeydew or cantaloupe) cubed, a few fresh mint leaves, the juice of 1/2 a lime, 1 teaspoon of sugar (optional), and some ice. Blend, pour into a cup, and become instantly refreshed!

4. Pita Pizza – top a small whole wheat pita with a thin layer (about a tablespoon) of marinara sauce (or salsa, or barbecue sauce) and top with one ounce of grated pepper jack cheese. Bake in the oven at 450 degrees until the cheese is just melted and pita is crisp. (This also works well on an english muffin.)

5. Chopped Cucumber and Yogurt – top 1 cup of chopped cucumber with 1/2 cup thick greek yogurt, and season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Squeeze on the juice of half a lemon, a drizzle with a teaspoon of good olive oil, and if desired, add a few tablespoons of freshly chopped dill. (Also works well with cottage cheese.)

What are your favorite summer snacks???

For more healthy snack ideas, check out these great posts:

My Post on Healthy Snacking via Healthylunchidea.com
Spicy Cruncy Chickpea Snack – via JustHungry.com
Chile Lime Tequila Popcorn – via 101cookbooks.com
Crunchy Granola Bars – via Apartment Therapy
Baked Oatmeal Snack Bars – via KathEats.com

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Japanese Ochazuke – A Quick Soup Lunch

Posted: February 25th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Balanced Lunch, Healthy Snacks, Pantry staples | Tags: , | No Comments »

ochazuke.JPG

I’ve been working hard at my studies this afternoon, and somehow 2:30 rolled around and I hadn’t eaten anything yet.

As part of my nutrition practice (and really because I do it all the time anyway), I’ve been reading up on different cultural food and health connections. When a culture has been promoting the same food remedies for hundreds or even thousands of years, usually they work! Unfortunately, here in the west we are a culture of pill-popping and chemical science, and often overlook some of the most basic home remedies for our ailments. When they recently scientifically proved that chicken soup (a.k.a. Jewish Penicillin) reduces inflammation and clears stuffy airways, it wasn’t anything that I didn’t already know, but I cheered anyway! Hopefully more research will be done in this area!

Over the past few days I’ve been reading from “Ancient Wisdom, Modern Kitchen “, a new cookbook I was kindly sent to review for my blog. This book makes eastern traditions of healing foods really easily accessible to a western audience. In addition to the 150 recipes in the book, there is a great list of 100 traditional Asian ingredients – including photos, and descriptions of the ingredients, their properties, how they are used, and where they can be found. For anyone interested in Asian cooking, this list is a great way to demystify some of the most commonly used Asian ingredients, and help to widen the palate and make shopping easier!

One of the recipes that caught my eye was the “Always-on-Call Ochazuke (p. 201)”, which seemed like the perfect lunch for this afternoon. Japanese Ochazuke is a really versatile dish based on cooked rice and green tea, with a variety of optional toppings. Traditional Japanese toppings include pickled umeboshi plum, nori, wasabi, salmon, bonito, or egg – but the possibilities are endless.

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I made this for lunch today, because it is the perfect dish to use up leftovers, and to ward off any impending sickness (I’ve been plagued over the past few weeks with allergies, and don’t want them to develop into anything else).

My Ochazuke:

3/4 cup leftover cooked brown rice (traditionally you would use white)

1/4 cup cooked chickpeas

1/2 small avocado, sliced

1 poached egg

a small handful shredded lettuce

a sprinkle of black sesame seeds

and 1/2 of a nori sheet, snipped into small slices

I assembled the ingredients in the bowl, and topped with: 2/3 cup freshly brewed green tea*, and some low sodium soy sauce to taste (it was about a tablespoon). *Note: I used Genmai-cha, a whole leaf green tea with toasted brown rice in it.

* * *If you have a bit of an open mind, according to traditional medicine “this is especially good for anyone with edema, urinary problems, small nodules (such as fibroids), or the feeling of having a lump in the throat; and that it helps regulate qi, resolve phlegm, and drain Dampness”. And I’ll vouch for the fact that the soup warmed me up and made me feel good!!

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Healthy Snacking

Posted: September 14th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Healthy Snacks | 1 Comment »

Grapes

When packing a lunch, it helps to pack a healthy snack for midway between lunch and dinner. The key here is to eat something light, low in calories (about 200, ideally less), high in nutrients, and preferably slow burning, to tide you through the afternoon, when we are prone to sleepiness and a drop in productivity.

Fresh fruit – Try grapes, or a few small plums, a nectarine, a small banana, an apple – are all good options. Fruits have natural sugars which give us a lift. Don’t overdo it with these though – keep your portions about the size of one small to medium fruit, to avoid a sugar overload.

Dried Fruits – Try apple rings, dates, and don’t forget prunes! Just keep the portions small, and remember that dried fruits naturally have higher calories than fresh fruit, and not as much volume. There is a great line of dried fruits called “Just Tomatoes, Etc.” that produces dried fruits and vegetables that are organic with only one ingredient on the label. They are healthy and tasty.

A small handful of nuts (about 15 almonds, or just a few tablespoons): Also try soy nuts, cashews, almonds, or walnuts. Sometimes, just having these in your bag, and knowing that they are there in case of emergency is enough to ward off hunger in the afternoon.

Edamame (fresh soybeans – 1 cup in the pods, 120 calories) Squeeze on some lemon, or a sprinkle of salt to give these a little kick. You can buy them frozen at Trader Joe’s or in the supermarket in the freezer section. You can also make a nice little salad out of these with some lemon vinaigrette and shaved Parmesan cheese.

Wasa Crackers with cottage cheese (2 wasa crackers – 70, 1/2 cup fat free cottage cheese – 80) Wasa crackers are crunchy and filling, and are perfectly paired with cottage cheese.

A sliced apple, with peanut butter to dip, or consider cashew butter or almond butter. (Medium apple – 120 calories, 1 tablespoon peanut butter – about 95)

Plain yogurt with walnuts or almonds, and a drizzle of honey – nonfat yogurt is fine, but if you can spare the calories for the day, you might want to try whole milk yogurt – it’s delicious. Or, in place of honey, stir in some fruit jam. (170 calories for 8 oz. whole milk yogurt, 1 tablespoon honey- 60 calories)

2 cups of freshly popped popcorn: The idea here is to avoid the prepackaged varieties particularly with added butter, fake butter, and lots of salt, and stick to all natural kernels. You can pop your own by putting 1/4 cup of kernels in a brown paper bag with some dried herbs such as oregano, pizza seasoning, rosemary, or red pepper flakes (optional), rolling down the bag a few times, and microwaving for 3-4 minutes. (60-100 calories)

A hardboiled egg: (about 80 calories). For a kick, mash with a squirt of mustard and a teaspoon of mayo, salt and pepper. Call it a “not quite deviled egg”. (Kids also love making these. Give them a fork and let them do the mashing themselves. )

What are your favorite snacks?

Pjoto: (nkzs)

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