Quick And Wholesome Snacks That Satisfy
Lately I’ve been working more than usual and spending less time at home, let alone in the kitchen. Even so, I’ve also been making food for several people who are currently unable to cook for themselves, and have significant dietary limitations. Ordinarily I enjoy such a culinary challenge, finding it stimulating to figure out what to feed folks who can’t eat what, dairy, fats or sugar. This week, however, preparing for two memorial services and fighting off an ear infection left me tired, vulnerable, cranky and dizzy (vertigo is often triggered by those dang ear/sinus conditions).
In such a situation, cooking is not very appealing, yet wholesome, nurturing food is more important than ever. Over the years, I’ve come up with a handful of speedy meals that are both easy to make and satisfying. Unlike a lot of fast food, these snacks and small meals leave me feeling better, not worse. All are plant-based foods suitable for vegetarians and vegans as well as hungry people in a hurry. For lunch today, my five year old granddaughter asked for yogurt and Granny Granola with bananas. We have this often, appreciating the play of flavors and textures as well as the fact that it can be ready in a hot minute.
Good For You Goodness
High in protein, our current house granola is delicious with yogurt (soy or whatever), stirred into cookies, or eaten out of hand. I don’t include almonds anymore since my dentist told me to knock off the hard nuts, but walnuts are crunchy yet too soft to do dental damage. I don’t add dried fruit because it gets rock hard after being mixed in with the oats, but we always add some kind of fresh fruit, whether chopped apples, peaches or pears, or bananas, blueberries, or raspberries. Sprinkle some over a fruit crumble for a lovely streusel topping, or stir some into melted bittersweet dark chocolate and spoon onto waxed paper for irresistible crunchy candy.
1/2 cup avocado oil
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup maple syrup OR brown rice syrup
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
8 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup each of walnuts, sesame seeds, hulled pumpkin seeds, hulled sunflower seeds, flax seeds and pumpkin seeds
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and stir to coat, then spread mixture evenly in a large, rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, then stir the mixture and spread evenly again. Return to oven and bake for another 10 minutes. Let cool, then store in tightly sealed canning jars. Makes about 8 cups (the seeds fall into the cracks somehow).
For those who can’t tolerate dairy, homemade hummus makes a delicious butter and cheese substitute. Tucked into pitas or slathered on sourdough rye rounds, it can be dressed up or down with the flick of the wrist. I buy mysteriously deep flavored Safinter smoked paprika in three versions; mild, which is gentle and tasty; hot (which is very hot indeed); and bittersweet, combining medium heat with a lovely mellow sweetness. Sunflower butter or almond butter works as well as tahini, a dash of lime juice instead of lemon adds enticing zip, while a swirl of pesto lifts ordinary hummus to a new level. To make the satiny-smoothest hummus, try blending ingredients in the order below, processing them longer than usual.
3-4 tablespoons tahini, sunflower butter or almond butter
1 large organic lemon, juiced, rind grated
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (or to taste)
1-2 tablespoons fruity olive oil OR avocado oil
1-1/2 cups cooked garbanzos, rinsed and drained
1-2 teaspoons bittersweet smoked paprika (or any)
In a food processor, combine tahini or whatever you choose with 1 tablespoon lemon juice and puree until very well blended (about 1 minute). Use a rubber scraper to push material from the side of the bowl back to the bottom and process for another 20-30 seconds. Add garlic and salt and process for another 30-45 seconds. Scrape the bowl again, add oil and 1 cup of garbanzos and process for about a minute. Scrape the bowl again, add remaining garbanzos and puree for another minute or more. Taste and adjust lemon juice, salt and garlic, adding water 1 tablespoon at a time to get the density/creaminess you want. Now add smoked paprika and process for 15-20 seconds. Store in covered glass jar in the fridge for up to a week. Makes about 1-1/2 cups.
Kale On Speed Dial
This fast and fabulous dish takes only a few minutes, smells tantalizing, and tastes great warm or as leftovers. Anything that combines kale with garlic is good already, but adding meaty chickpeas makes it a meal.
Kale With Chickpeas And Garlic
1 tablespoon avocado or olive oil
3 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 big bunch kale, cut into thin ribbons (chiffonade)
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1-1/2 cups cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
In a wide, shallow pan, combine oil and garlic over medium high heat until fragrant and golden. Add kale, onion, and salt, stir to coat, cover pan and cook until lightly wilted (2-3 minutes). Stir in chickpeas, add 1-2 tablespoons of water, cover pan and heat through until chickpeas start to pop. Season to taste with pepper and a squeeze of lime juice. Serves 2 as a main dish, 4 as a side.