Healthy Snacks

My children have both had massive growth spurts recents. Perhaps, like many others, their insatiable appetites have been exacerbated by the lockdown. It sometimes feels like an endless carousel of meals and snacks. I’m sure our household is not unique. Here are recipes for a few tried and tested snacks I make for my family. They are all easy to prepare and super yummy. I hope you enjoy them.

Perfect Popcorn

Popcorn is one of the world’s healthiest and most popular snack foods. It is low in calories and high in fiber, minerals and vitamins. Readymade popcorn is often loaded with excessive salt, sugar or additives. Making your own is inexpensive and you can control what goes into it.

Ingredients:

1 cup corn kernels

1 tbsp sunflower oil

Table salt (optional)

Method:

  1. Turn on stove to somewhere between a medium and high heat
  2. Pour the oil into the pan and place on the stove to heat for a minute or so.
  3. Put three popcorn kernels in the pan.
  4. When one or two of them pop, cover the bottom of the pan with the rest of the corn. Don’t put too many kernels in at once, as they tend to burn before they pop.
  5. Place the lid on the pan. The popcorn should start popping in a minute or so.
  6. Continuously shake the pan across the burner until popping reaches a crescendo.
  7. When the popping slows down, remove the pan from the heat and keep shaking for a minute or two.
  8. Empty the popcorn into a bowl and season with a little salt.

Variations:

  • For sweet popcorn add 1 tablespoon of runny honey or malt syrup to the hot popcorn and mix well.
  • You can make sweet popcorn cakes by pressing a handful of honey/malt popcorn into muffin cases and allow to cool
  • For a savoury treat, add 1 tablespoons of soy sauce and 2 tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds to the hot popcorn and mix well. (Allow to cool before eating

Savoury Muffins

A delicious and healthy snack with countless variations. These muffins keep well and can be made in bulk and frozen.

Makes 12 small or 8 large muffins

Ingredients:

50ml sunflower oil

2 eggs

125ml milk

175g self-raising white flour or 50/50 white and wholemeal

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp each of salt and ground pepper

5 spring onions, finely sliced

200g sweetcorn

1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into small cubes

200g feta cheese, cubed

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tbsp sesame seeds, optional

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 175’c
  2. Line your muffin tins with paper cases or grease well with butter.
  3. Beat together the eggs, oil and milk until frothy then add the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper and mix well to form a batter.
  4. Fold in the oregano, cheese, onions, pepper and sweetcorn and mix.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases 2/3rd full and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes until well risen and golden. Check they are done by inserting a skewer. If it comes out still gummy, bake for a further 5 minutes.
  7. Cool completely before eating.

Variations:

  • For gluten free muffins, use 125g of doves farm self-raising flour and 75g of fine polenta or cornmeal.
  • Other vegetables or cheese can be used, but can be added, but juicy ingredients such as fresh tomatoes will alter the consistency of the mixture.
  • The feta cheese can be replaced with other hard cheeses such as cheddar.
  • Try adding some flavour bombs like fresh or dried chilli, sliced olives or sundried tomatoes.

Lime and soy seared seeds

Toasted seeds make a healthy, delicious and quick snack. These seeds are full of protein, essential oils, minerals and vitamins. They are easy to prepare and keep well if stored in a sealed container. The lime and soy give the seeds a savoury “twiglet” flavour. This recipe makes about 250g of toasted seeds. Store the cooled seeds in an airtight container to keep them fresh and if they lose their crunchiness, place them onto a baking tray and into a hot oven for a few minutes to dry out.

Makes 250g of seeds

Ingredients:

4 tbsp sunflower seeds

4 tbsp pumpkin seeds

2 tbsp sesame seeds

1 tbsp soy sauce

Juice of 1 lime (lemon works equally well)

Method:

  1. On a medium temperature, heat a large frying pan and add the sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
  2. Cook and keep stirring until the seeds just start to brown and add the sesame seeds.
  3. Cook for a minute or so more, until all of the seeds are toasted, and then add the soy sauce and lime juice.
  4. Keep stirring, allowing the natural sugars in the lime juice to caramelise and coat the seeds.
  5. Remove from the heat and allow the seeds to cool in the pan.
  6. Serve these on their own, or as a crunch topping for salads or soup.

Variations:

  • For a real omega oil add 2 tbsp of flax seeds and 1 tbsp of hulled hemp seeds to the other 3 seeds.
  • Add a ½ tsp mild chilli powder or curry powder to the soy sauce for a spicy kick or for  Cajun seared seeds, sear with lime or lemon juice and a dusting of paprika, cumin and dried or fresh oregano or thyme.

Kale and sesame “chips”

Kale is a powerhouse of nutritional goodness and this recipe makes eating the loads of the stuff easy and delicious. Kale is very antioxidant and a good source of vitamin C. It is full of soluble fibre and can help to lower cholesterol. The sesame seeds add an extra layer of flavour and texture. They also increase the protein and calcium levels of this yummy snack.

Makes 100g of kale chips

Ingredients:

200g kale leaves, tough stalks removed washed and cut or torn onto pieces

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp sesame seeds

Salt to taste

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 150C/130C fan/gas 2 and line 2 baking trays with baking parchment. The more you spread the kale out the crispier your chips.
  2. Wash the kale and dry thoroughly. Place in a large bowl, tearing any large leaves into smaller pieces. Drizzle over the oil and massage it into the kale. Sprinkle over the sesame seeds and a little salt.
  3. Mix it all together, tip out onto the trays and spread out in a single layer.
  4. Bake for 20 mins or until crisp but still green, then leave to cool for a few minutes.
  5. Store in a airtight container when cool.

Variations:

  • For an even more flavoursome kale chip, add a clove of chopped garlic, ground black pepper or chilli flakes and a tablespoon of lime or lemon juice.
  • Sesame paste (tahini) can be used in place of the oil. The chips are less crisp, but have a rich nutty flavour which is moreish.
  • A small a tablespoon of grated parmesan or nutritional yeast flakes (vegan) can be added for a savoury flavour bomb.

Crunchy spiced chickpeas

Chickpeas are a healthy and nutritious legume most often used for stews and dips. This is an easy recipe for a delicious snack which is a good source of protein and soluble fibre.

Ingredients:

1 can chickpeas, drained

1 tsp olive or sunflower oil

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

Alternatively, 2 heaped teaspoons of curry powder or mixed Moroccan spice (Ras el hanout)

Method:

  1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.
  2. Tip the chickpeas into a bowl and toss with the oil and spices.
  3. Place them onto a baking tray and bake for 35 mins, moving them round the tray halfway through so they dry out evenly and are crunchy.
  4. Leave to cool, then store in an airtight container.

 

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