Sesame-Cashew Snaps

My husband has a love (…ok craving…) for sesame snaps and frequently buys them at grocery stores. It looks deceptively healthy…after all it’s packed with sesame seeds, which are nutritious right? However, a look at the ingredient labels reveals that the snack is basically made up of sugar. For example, of the four ingredients in a Sezme brand sesame snap, three of the ingredients are sugar based. Here is the entire ingredients list: Sesame seeds, glucose syrup, sugar, honey.

I was determined to make a healthier version. But I was disappointed to see that most of the recipes out there on the Internet for homemade sesame snaps or sesame bars use quite a lot of sugar or sweeteners as the main ingredient as well. I really wanted a healthier, lower sugar version. So when I stumbled across this recipe (see source) from bon appetit for Sesame-Peanut Bars Recipe by Molly Mitchell, I was ecstatic!! I tried it out right away, making some modifications and a winner was born! I absolutely love the fact that it only calls for ¼ cup of honey. Try it yourself!

Sesame-Cashew Snaps

Recipe by: Dietitianmom
Makes about 16 snaps

Ingredients

  • 1¼ cups raw or toasted sesame seeds
  • ¾ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ¼ cup unsalted, roasted cashews (chopped).
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup honey (or maple syrup or agave nectar)
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower seed butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed meal (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 9 x 13 inch glass bakeware pan with parchment paper, with sufficient overhang on all sides.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the wet ingredients (sesame seeds, coconut, chopped cashew nuts, salt and optional ingredients like the flaxseed meal and chia seeds if desired).
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients (honey, sunflower seed butter, and vanilla)
  4. Add the wet ingredients mixture to the dry sesame seed mixture and mix well.
  5. Scrape mixture into prepared baking dish, and then press firmly into an even layer, as thinly as you can!
  6. Bake in the oven until golden brown around the edges (at least 20–25 minutes, depending on how thick the mixture layer is).
  7. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool until firm (this will take at least 30–40 minutes). Lift the entire parchment piece with the baked layer out of the bakeware (if it starts to crumble, let cool longer) and let it cool fully. Then cut into rectangular snaps.

This is a very easy and versatile recipe, and quick to throw together when the snack craving hits. Use whatever you have in the kitchen, be it toasted or raw sesame seeds, sweetened or unsweetened coconut flakes or coconut shreds. I’m sure it will work fine with other nuts too such as chopped pecans, hazelnuts or walnuts! Feel free to experiment! You can also make these bars a few days ahead of time and store them in an airtight jar or container. However, if you don’t intend to eat all of this right away, the best method I’ve found to maintain the crispiness of the sesame-cashew snaps is to freeze them in an airtight container. Then take some snaps out to thaw for about 10 minutes before consuming.

The problem? Now I’m addicted!

(Source: Sesame-Peanut Bars. Bon Appétit. http://www.bonappetit.com.

http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/sesame-peanut-bars. Published September 2015. Accessed June 20, 2017.)

 

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Oo-La-La! Five-Minute Guacamole Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 Avocados
  • 1-2 tablespoons onion, finely minced
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1-2 tablespoons tomatoes, chopped
  • 2-4 teaspoons lime juice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, or as desired
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper, or as desired

Directions:

  1. Simply peel and mash avocado in a bowl. Then add all the other seasonings together!

Notes: Feel free to add more onion, salt or pepper as desired. If you would like a richer taste, after mixing first chill the bowl for 30 minutes in the refrigerator to let the flavors blend together before serving.

Serve this as a power snack alongside any of the following options:

  • Unsalted tortilla chips
  • Warm pita bread strips
  • Baked pita chips
  • Carrot/cucumber/celery sticks
  • Red, orange or yellow bell pepper sticks
  • Apple slices
  • Pretzel sticks
  • Vegan ‘cheese’ shreds and whole-wheat/corn tortillas as mini ‘roll-ups’
  • Zucchini crisps
  • In lettuce leaves as ‘mini-wrap’ sandwiches (feel free to add beans, chopped boiled egg, strips of cooked poultry meat or cheese if desired)

This is a great dish for your child’s afternoon snack or potluck/party/picnic contribution!

 

Zucchini Crisps

DSC00001_zucchinicrisps

Zucchini Crisps – Dietitianmom.com

Here is a recipe that I would like to share with you that I originally found on foodnetwork.com and then adapted. It was an immediate hit with oldest daughter (then a toddler) and my husband! In fact, when I first served it, my daughter kept asking me for more – and she would usually barely touch the zucchini on her plate! It’s super easy to make, but takes a little bit of time to bake in the oven, so plan ahead.

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 zucchinis (sliced into thin 1/4 –inch thick rounds)
  • Dairy Free Vegan ‘cheese’ shreds (e.g., Daiya’s Mozzarella or Cheddar Style Shreds)
  • Bread crumbs
  • Pinch of salt (optional)
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 C), and line a baking tray with either aluminum foil or parchment paper.
  2. Drizzle olive oil over the sliced zucchini rounds in a bowl, and mix thoroughly until the zucchini pieces are well coated. Be generous with the olive oil!
  3. In a different bowl, mix together the dairy-free ‘cheese’ shreds, breadcrumbs, pepper and a pinch of salt if desired. Mix well.
  4. Coat each zucchini piece in the breadcrumb mixture until it is coated on both sides (may need to slightly press the coating onto each zucchini surface) then lay in the baking tray. Repeat with the other zucchini pieces.
  5. Place in oven and cook for 30-40 minutes, or until the zucchini pieces turn slightly brown and become crisp.
  6. Serve and eat while warm. Enjoy!

I tried this recipe a few different ways and found that commercial bread crumbs seem to work a bit  better than Panko bread crumbs, though Panko bread crumbs can still be used. Personally, I don’t think you need to even add a sprinkle of salt because commercial breadcrumbs tend to already have some salt (unless you find the unsalted version or make your own breadcrumbs!). These can also be made more nutritious by dipping the zucchini rounds in a flax egg mixture (made by 1 tablespoon of flax seed meal mixed with 3 tablespoons of water and let sit for 5-10 minutes before using it) before coating them with the breadcrumb mixture. Try this recipe with other vegetables like yellow squash!

Other tips: You can turn these into “zucchini fries” but it made trying to coat all 4 sides properly more challenging (though they still turned out well!). You can also try to bake the zucchini rounds without any ‘cheese’. I’m sure they would still come out crispy even without a ‘cheese’ component!

Simple Kale ‘Chips’ Recipe

DSC08680First, what is kale and why eat it? Kale is a dark leafy green packed with important nutrients like vitamins, fiber, calcium, antioxidants like carotenoids and flavonoids, as well as lutein and zeaxanthin compounds. Kale can be served in many different ways (see post The Wonders of Kale), but one way that may become a fast favorite in your household is to turn kale into ‘chips’! So how do you make them? Very simply! Here’s how:

All you need: A raw bunch of kale, olive oil and seasonings as desired

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325oF (or 170oC)
  2. Wash and pat dry 1 bunch of fresh kale.
  3. Cut (or simply hand tear) the leaves off the thick stems/ribs and into bite sized pieces.
  4. Put in a bowl, drizzle with a generous amount of olive oil (at least 2 tablespoons to half a bunch of kale), then toss so that all the pieces are well coated.
  5. Put parchment/wax/baking paper on 1-2 baking sheets, then spread the pieces on evenly.
  6. Bake for 10-15 min, then turn the pieces over. Bake another 10-15 min or until the pieces are crisp, but not overly brown.
  7. Season and enjoy! Once cooled, keep in an airtight container and these ‘chips’ will stay crisp for up to 3-4 days!

If you like, you can sprinkle on a bit of salt or garlic salt once the chips are done. However, here are a few other simple but great tasting seasonings you can use for your family:
Vegan mozzarella or cheddar ‘cheese’ shreds
Rosemary
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Paprika (or cayenne pepper)
Pepper
Feel free to experiment and try a combination of seasonings. My favorite so far is rosemary and parmesan cheese with a touch of garlic/onion powder. Yum! And the taste? My husband says the kale chips taste a bit like Japanese seaweed because they are so crisp and papery thin!

Don’t want to make your own? I know that Trader Joe’s sells a small bag (2 ounces or 57 grams) of kale chips for approximately US $3.99. It has a long list of ingredients though: kale, cashews, sunflower seeds, carrot powder, red bell pepper powder, onion powder, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice concentrate, salt, garlic powder, chipotle powder. Not only is this relatively expensive (a bunch of raw kale costs only about US $1 and there is also the precut washed version for about a dollar more), this product may not be suitable for someone with particular food allergies like to nuts or seeds. And personally, I don’t think you need so many seasonings to make great tasting chips!

Whether your child normally likes vegetables or not, this is sure to be a winner for him/her and probably the rest of the family! By the way, you can bake and turn the leaves of other vegetables like swiss chard, beets, turnip greens or radish leaves into crunchy ‘chip’ snacks too!