Healthy Cook: Better Ways to Snack in the Office or After School

Healthy Cook: Better Ways to Snack in the Office or After School

A few cookies or a candy bar is quick and easy, however, they are loaded with empty calories.  Snacks don’t have to be empty calories and, with a little planning, you don’t have to have one choice for the adults and another for the youngsters.

If you have a fridge at work your choices are far wider than if you have to tuck healthy snacks in your desk drawer.

FIRST, let’s talk about simple snacks you do not need a refrigerator for:

Apple Wedges:
These are easy to make if you have a corer.  That’s the gadget that you push down over an apple and you have the core and wedges all at once.  Or you can head to your local grocer and buy pre-cut wedges in a bag.
Didn’t someone once say, “Buy an apple corer once and you have wedges for life”?  Well, someone should have.  Ours is more than 30 years old.
CFHN TIP! Some apples go brown faster than bananas on the counter.  Dip wedges in a mild acid solution to stop it; a little lemon juice in water does the trick.

Dip Your Fruit:
Spice up your apple wedges or celery sticks with an easy fix.  A small container of peanut butter or one of honey for dipping.  You can even mix the honey and peanut butter together if you prefer.  Next, finely chop up peanuts, sprinkle in a little cinnamon, and dunk your apple in the spicy nuts.

Get Cheesey:
Apple pie and Cheddar cheese is “de rigueur” in parts of the country.  Pack some cheese wedges with your apple.  Don’t knock it till you try it. A bunch of grapes, a few nuts, cheese and crackers make a fine spread for a healthy snack at work or at home.  If you can find a ripe pear it’s a yummy combination.

NOW onto the fridge options . . .

Wrapped Deli Meat:
Sliced ham wrapped around blanched asparagus spears has long been a favorite at our house. Microwave the asparagus about 10 seconds per spear and they’re done.
Don’t like asparagus?  Cheese works just as well.  Whole wheat crackers add bulk and nutrition.  Don’t like ham?  Deli turkey is a fine option

Insalata Caprese is an Italian salad of tomato slices alternated with mozzarella cheese then drizzled with Balsamic vinegar.  It’s almost as easy to make at home as it is to order it in a restaurant.  Whole wheat crackers or breadsticks add crunch.

Cheese crackers and peanut butter crackers that come in little packages can be done better when you make them at home with woven wheat biscuits.  Isn’t that the generic name for Triscuits?  The snack can be a little dry so a container of Fresh from Florida orange juice will help.

Hard cooked eggs can be enjoyed all sorts of ways in the snack world.  The chef in a restaurant I visited recently must have worked really hard to get that even ring of green around the yolks.

Here’s how to avoid the decoration:
Start with eggs about a week old.  Put a small hole in the large end of each egg.  Put them in boiling water.  Turn the heat to a low simmer.  Cover the pot and go away for 18 minutes.  Plunge the eggs into plenty of ice and water and let them chill ten minutes.  Drain and put them back into the original, now empty, pot.  Shake them around to break the shells in many pieces.  Peel under running water.  Enjoy them just as they are with a touch of butter or mayo.  Take a bite, add the butter or mayo and bite again.  Repeat until there are no more bites.

Chop a few eggs and add finely diced celery, nuts, and mayo.  Dress it up with onion, chives, chopped olives (green or black), curry powder, raisins, craisins, cinnamon or nutmeg.  Try some of your favorite salad dressing instead of mayo.  If the kids turn their noses up at anything other than plain, take theirs out before you add the adult mix-ins.

Pack in a sandwich or use corn chips as dippers.  And speaking of corn chips . . . It takes just a few minutes to whip up a batch of pico di gallo in a processor.

Mexican Cuisine:
You need tomatoes, onion, peppers, cilantro and cumin for a basic mixture.  Mix them together, but just until it’s still chunky.  Now stir in black beans, corn, celery, jicama, cucumber, carrot . . . whatever you like that appeals to you and the youngsters.

Ice Cream Alternative:
After a long day in the Central Florida heat, nothing sounds better than a cold ice cream sandwich.  However, plain non-fat Greek yogurt tart to the taste, is a wiser selection.  The tart taste is easy to fix with honey or maple syrup.  The yogurt is good for you and when layered with fruit and nuts and granola in a parfait it’s even better.

Rice Pudding:
For another dessert-like snack that’s good for you, simmer left-over rice, some milk and eggs into rice pudding.  Add in raisins or bits of other dried fruit dress it up.

Enjoy these few easy-to-whip-up snacks this summer!



Food Editor

Categories: Columns, Health News