Nutrient-Packed Late Afternoon Snack Mix

Healthy snack mix

By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch

Do you ever find yourself craving something crunchy?  I know I do – especially in the late afternoon.  Whether it’s merely a habit, something I’m lacking in my diet, or simply the need for something other than fruits and vegetables, occasionally as the late afternoon hours roll around, I find myself looking for something to munch on that gives me a little crunch (and not a carrot!).

Well, today, and the last few days for that matter, I found myself with such cravings.  So rather than reach for the gluten-free crackers with pasture butter, which is what I usually go for, I decided to get a little more creative and put something together that would not only satisfy my craving, but would also provide me with more nutrients.

When I was at the store the other day, I stocked up on a number of different organic nuts and other snacks that would make for a good homemade trail mix.  So I went to the nut and snack drawer and pulled all of them out and put together a quick and fun snack to hold everybody over until dinner.

I had quite a nice mix going: macadamia nuts, pecans, roasted pumpkin seeds, raw cashews, chopped dates, coconut flakes, and banana chips (almost all organic, of course).  But something was missing.  I was remembering my granola based trail mixes I used to make when I was a kid (granola, raisins, marshmallows, coconut and M&Ms), and then it hit me that I should add some chocolate.  Since M&Ms really aren’t in the picture anymore, I thought I would utilize some of the Bulletproof Executive’s new chocolate bars I just ordered.  They are actually quite good – don’t expect them to taste like a Hershey bar or anything (that would be gross), but they are good-quality chocolates.  And, they provided the missing link, for my snack mix.  I just chopped up one of the bars and added it in.

Anyway, here’s what I actually put into my Late Afternoon Nutrient Packed Snack Mix:

1/2 cup raw cashews

1/2 cup hazelnuts

1/2 cup pecans

1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup macadamia nuts

1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

6-8 soft dates, chopped

1 dark chocolate bar (at least 70% cacao)

Mix them all together and enjoy!

Look around in your pantry and refrigerator and see what you have that you could make a snack mix with.  Maybe you have some superfoods you could add in?  Maybe some goji berries?  Some chocolate-covered hemp seeds?  Hmm… I’m going to have to go back and add a few things, now that I’m thinking about it!

Advertisements

Olive Oil and Sea Salt Brownie Cookies from Butterlust!

Olive Oil cookies
By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch
It was one of those cold fall evenings last night – the kind that was damp with occasional rain, and as the evening went on, the wind from Lake Michigan was on the rise.  The girls and I couldn’t get warm, no matter the thickness of our sweatshirts or how many blankets we cuddled in.
It was time for a fire.  I hadn’t made one in quite some time, but I didn’t want to use the fireplace, so I used the pizza oven.  We have quite a stash of wood in the garage, so I grabbed some wood and kindling and got a good fire going in no time.
Now that I was a little warmer, I could think a little more clearly about dinner and dessert.  I wanted to make something different for dessert.  I realized the other day that I used to make basic chocolate chip cookies quite often, but once I went gluten free, I started making them less and less frequently.  The other night I realized it had been weeks since I had made cookies.  It was time.
I wanted to try something a little different, though, and I was pretty sure my family would appreciate a change as well.  I was in the mood for something chocolatey.  So I grabbed my file that has a bunch of recipes I’ve printed off over the last few months or torn out of a magazine – recipes that are different from what I would normally see and ones I definitely want to try.
I came across this recipe from Butterlust Blog:  Olive Oil & Sea Salt Brownie Cookies.  It looked perfect – how could a cookie containing chocolate, olive oil and sea salt be anything but good?  So Frankie and I got right to work making them.
These cookies call for olive oil , which you don’t see too often in sweet treats.  I’ve been wanting to try some sort of dessert with olive oil for quite some time and when I saw this recipe, it looked relatively easy and the combination of ingredients looked like they would work together nicely.
The only change I made in the recipe was that I used Cup4Cup Gluten Free Flour in place of regular flour.  Other than that minor change, I stuck close to what Butterlust suggests.
Well, I have to say, this recipe jumped right into my top 5 favorite cookies! The girls were equally thrilled with the way they turned out.  It was funny because when we all took our first bites, we just looked at each other like we couldn’t believe they were that good.
I know olive oil in a cookie sounds a little strange.   But you have to give these a try!!!

Dark Chocolate, Olive Oil, and Sea Salt – Need I Say More?

IMG_5120

By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch

Imagine chocolate, olive oil, sea salt and bread all combined together for an unusual, yet amazing treat.  That’s what I finally did today!  I thought about combining these a couple of years ago, but then went gluten free and didn’t think that the gluten-free bread options would do this masterful piece justice.

Well, I couldn’t put off trying it any longer, so I finally made it, on the best gluten-free bread option I had available.  Now I’m wondering why I waited so long!!   It was so easy to make – quick, not many ingredients, easy to assemble, and even easier to eat! The only thing missing was a good glass of wine, cup of tea, or cup of coffee.

Next time!

For those of you still in the dark (play on words not intended, but hey, it works) about dark chocolate, it has many health benefits beyond its great taste.  Cacao (dark chocolate) is mineral rich – it contains calcium, iron, and magnesium.  It is also considered to be mood enhancing and energizing due to its effect on the central nervous system.  Cacao is also extremely high in antioxidants as well as polyphenols.

Note that these benefits are not found in all chocolates, so don’t kid yourself into thinking the typical chocolate bar you pick up in the checkout line of your grocery store is good for you.  The cacao level should be at least 70-75%, and make sure it is good-quality chocolate.  There are a ton of options to choose from today with the popularity of specialty chocolates on the rise.  And there are a ton of high quality chocolate bars with added spices and fruits and nuts – it’s fun to experiment with them on their own, and will be even more fun to experiment with them in this recipe.

So, the recipe for Dark Chocolate, Olive Oil, and Sea Salt Spread:

Ingredients:

1 slice good quality artisan bread (because I’m gluten free, my options were limited, but I used Whole Foods brand gluten-free bread)

2 Tbsp. chopped dark chocolate

1 Tbsp. good olive oil

Sea salt (preferably Maldon’s)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Spread the chopped chocolate on top of the bread, drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and put in the oven for about 5 minutes.

Check after 5 minutes to see if it is melted, if not, keep in for another 4 minutes or so and check again.

Make sure you don’t over cook it – there’s nothing worse than burnt chocolate!

Take out, and spread the chocolate around a bit, and enjoy!  It’s that easy!

Chocolate Cherry Superfood Smoothie

IMG_0137

By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch

The girls and I were about to head out for a hike here in Ocala and I needed a snack to boost my energy and get me to dinner.  I had the idea of combining chocolate and cherry together in a smoothie somehow in my head, so I thought I’d play around with it for today’s recipe.

I also wanted something simple.  Too often I come across smoothie recipes that have a lot of ingredients or have ingredients I may not have.  This one is pretty straight forward.  Why mess with the perfection of chocolate and cherry together, right?

The result of my playing around in the kitchen is the Chocolate Cherry Superfood Smoothie.  I think it turned out amazingly tasty!  And knowing that it is packed with super nutrients makes it taste even better for me.

So, I started out with about 1 cup frozen organic cherries.  Cherries are known for their high flavonoid content, which not only gives them their dark color, but also acts as an antioxidant.  Cherries are also high in Vitamin C and potassium.  I haven’t had cherries in a long time and seeing these deep purplish/red cherries brought back visions of summertime in Michigan, and those glorious couple of weeks in July when the farmer’s markets are flowing with fresh-picked local cherries!

Believe it or not, I’ve never gone cherry picking, but it is now officially on my list for this summer!

Next I wanted to add some chocolate, so my choice was organic raw cacao powder (2 Tbsp.).  Just in time for Valentines Day, cacao contains a substance called phenylethylamine or PEA, which is the chemical found in the brains of people in love.  And, raw cacao is rich in antioxidants, Vitamins A & C, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and copper.  It even contains resveratrol which protects your brain and nervous system.  Raw cacao has recently been found to contain anandamide, the “bliss chemical” – it’s what your body produces when you have a workout “high” and has been associated with improving motivation and increasing pleasure!  Who knew?

With so many benefits to raw cacao, I though I would add some raw cacao nibs – to also pack a little bit of crunch to the drink (1 Tbsp.).

I wanted to add a little more superfood power, so I thought maca powder would be a good choice (1 tsp.).  Maca has been known to support the endocrine system and increase stamina and energy, among many other things and is loaded with Vitamin C and iron.

To add a little sweetness and some more potassium, magnesium, and Vitamin B6 to the smoothie, I added half a banana.

Not that this smoothie probably needed this, but I added about 1/2 Tbsp. raw honey.

Then I figured I’d add some ice to give it the right texture (about 3/4 cup) and then enough almond milk to get it to the right consistency (I used about 3/4 cup).

All of these amazing foods combined together provided, not only a delicious late-afternoon snack, but also a nutrient dense, power-packed food.  This is one of those many times that I look at food as medicine and combine something together to help me do what I need to do.

How could anyone go wrong with this combination?  Lindsey even wanted some of it, and Frankie, after asking if it was “real chocolate” or cacao (she’s not a big fan of superfoods), even tried it and said it wasn’t bad – I’ll take it!

Ingredients:

1 cup frozen organic cherries

1/2 banana

2 Tbsp. organic raw cacao powder

1 tsp. maca powder

1/2 Tbsp. raw honey

3/4 cup ice

3/4 cup almond milk

1 Tbsp. cacao nibs

Directions:

Put all the ingredients in a blender, mix, and serve. Delicious!