Category Archives: Snacks

Lentil Sprouts and Staying Healthy in the Season of Indulgence

 

Grow your own sprouts in 30 seconds a day! (Or less.)

Grow your own sprouts in 30 seconds a day! (Or less.)

At last, dear readers, I have gotten around to writing up this post about lentil sprouts, after blogging about it here and here. (Here too.) It costs literally pennies to grow these sprouts, and they’re uber healthy. (Healthy is important, given all the delicious, calorie-laden yumminess available around the holidays!)

Light, and crunchy, like little bites of summer freshness, these sprouts add healthiness to your salads and sandwiches. Or maybe sprinkle on top of some soup? Yes, I think that’s perfect! A bunch of fresh sprouts on top of a bowl of steaming soup, served with my favourite bread recipe. Wouldn’t that hit the spot right now?

How to make them? Rinse them in water. Bam, done!

Ok, so it’s sliiiiightly more involved than that, but only slightly. I kid you not! I present:

HOW TO GROW LENTIL SPROUTS

(or pea sprouts or alfalfa sprouts or any other sort of sprouty goodness)

  • 1/8 c. of dried lentils (now you see why I say it costs pennies!)
  • mason jar with lid
  • cheesecloth

Place dried lentils in mason jar. Stretch cheesecloth over top and fasten in place with the canning jar ring (or an elastic). Add water until covered by an inch of water. Soak for 12 hours. Empty jar of water by turning upside down and draining water through cheesecloth. Turn right side up and leave for 12 hours. Then rinse (not soak) in water,  drain water (immediately) again, and repeat rinsing and draining immediately every 12 hours or so. In a day you’ll see sprouts starting, and in 3-5 days, your sprouts will be ready to nom-nom-nom on! When you want them to stop growing, put the canning lid on them, and store in the fridge. They’ll keep for several days.

This time with dried peas!

This time with dried peas!

This is a great project to do with kids, as they can see the sprouts growing with each watering. It really is super-easy!

Be warned though, a tiny bit of dried lentils will produce a lot of sprouts! I learned this the first time I made some. I made a huge mason jar full, and after eating them with every meal for several days, I conceded sprouty fatigue, and gave the rest of the jar to a colleague.

All this said…I must add a caveat emptor: if you grow your own sprouts and it is theoretically possible that they could grow bacteria. To quote the www.foodsafety.gov website, “Like any fresh produce that is consumed raw or lightly cooked, sprouts carry a risk of foodborne illness. Unlike other fresh produce, seeds and beans need warm and humid conditions to sprout and grow. These conditions are also ideal for the growth of bacteria, including Salmonella, Listeria, and E. coli.” So, be informed, and make your own judgement call. I’ve never gotten sick eating homegrown sprouts, and no one I know has gotten ill eating sprouts (homegrown or otherwise), but if you grow them and they look odd, toss them and try again. Better safe than sick, amirite?

With that said, I totally suggest growing your own sprouts! Hey, you get to grow your own nutrients, and look all cool doing it (at least, I think it’s cool!) If you grow them, take a photo and tag me on my facebook page! I’d love to see the fruits (vegetables, actually) of your labour!

Next Post: Peppermint Patties! Three ingredients, 3 minutes, 30 patties. Dip them in chocolate? Eat as is? Your choice!

Linking up at Meal Plan Monday!

Custardy Apple Squares & How I Manage My Sweet Tooth

ready-to-be-eaten-all-up

If you’ve ever read basically ANY post on this site, you’ll know by now that I have a sweet tooth. I do looooove my sweets! I also like being healthy, so obviously I’ve got to balance the two things out: sugar vs. health — it’s a knockdown, drag-out battle! Which…health will win, because I manage my sweet tooth with one thing.

What is this magic thing that keeps my sweet tooth happy and my health at an even keel?

Fruit. That’s it. That’s the key.

Simple, yes?

The DH and I manage to eat at least 3 fruit bowls worth of fruit every week, no joke, and most of that is because of me. I wake up and eat fruit with my breakfast, often grab a piece of fruit when running out of the door to work, sometimes pack some fruit in my lunch on top of salads and definitely pack a homemade fruit salad in the DH’s lunch, come home after work and eat some fruit before dinner, and then eat looooots of fruit in the evening as snacks. High in fibre (which is important for me with my IBS), low(-ish) in calories, and full of taste and sweet, sweet sugar! Ah, fruit! How I do love thee!

Despite the strong relationship that I have with fruit, I still have a love affair with baked goods. How to marry the two? In recipes like my deeeelicious Harvest Apple Crumble (award-winning, yo’!) or in this week’s bake-a-long recipe, Custardy Apple Squares.

Those layers though!

Those layers though!

It’s autumn, and my bake-a-long group is baking an apple recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi cookbook. Basically, it’s apple slices covered in a leeeetle bit of batter (similar to crepe batter), and baked until puffy and golden.

It goes into the pan all lumpy and bumpy and comes out of the pan all layered and golden. Let it cool, slice it up, sprinkle with icing sugar, and eat with abandon! It’s surprisingly healthy, and yet surprisingly tasty — mostly due to fruit, sweet fruit!

So, there you have it. Got a sweet tooth? Satisfy it with fruit. Or baked goods containing fruit. Or…chocolate-covered fruit? Oh, yes, I think that would win!

Next Post: Homemade yoghurt, oh yeah!!! Way super-duper easier than you think. Like, seriously.

Linking up at Meal Plan Monday!

Memories of Meals Past: Quesitos, A Pastry By Any Other Name

Crunchy, cream-cheesy bites of sweetness!

Crunchy, cream-cheesy bites of sweetness!

Things that go together: doughnuts and coffee, sugar and spice, cheese and crackers, me and anything chocolate, and…cooking and drag queens?!???

Apparently so! The other day I came across a funny youtube video when I was surfing the net for cooking videos. The title of the series is “Cooking with Drag Queens“, and it is, literally, a cooking show where the hosts cook with drag queens. In full drag. The dishes seem nice if not polished to a T, but the drag queens are definitely polished and then some! (I wish my hair was half as good). The show isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I did find it fun, and liked the documentary parts of each episode the best. And then of course I had to try one of the recipes!

Which recipe? Quesitos! Because they sound like a version of the Venezeulan cachitos that the DH introduced me to (my waistline will never be the same). Quesitos are a pastry filled with sweetened cream cheese; very easy to nom upon. Cachitos are sort of like mozzarella sticks covered in dough and fried, but much tastier than that description. Personally, I wonder if there are many versions of cachitos/quesitos/cheese-filled pastries-savory-sweet-or-otherwise floating around Latin America.

Whether or not there’s any relationship between the two cheese pastries, I decided to try the recipe shown in the youtube video, but with a classic me twist (substitutions, oh YEAH!). Instead of the filo dough that the hosts suggested, I used spring roll wrappers that I had sitting in my freezer. And instead of the brown sugar that they suggested to sprinkle on top, I ground up some of the cane sugar block that I had in my kitchen cupboard (courtesy of a shopping trip by the DH to a South American store).

The results? I loooooved that filling! So yum! The spring roll wrapper pastry I wasn’t super thrilled about, and the filo pastry, eh, I’m just not feeling it. I’m not sure what the best wrapper would be. Any suggestions, my cooking confreres?  Let me know in the comments!

Next Post: Buns, buns, bunnnnnnssssss…aka Dinner Roll Odyssey. I’m pretty sure. Or maybe chocolate cake.

Salads I Have Known & Loved: Lentil Salad Sprinkles, Blog Traffic, and a Contest Entry

Sprinkled right out the jar!

Sprinkled right out the jar!

In my on-going quest for foodie fame, fortune, and blog traffic, I’ve decided to enter a contest. I heard about it through the Canadian Food Bloggers, a group of which I’m a member, and I thought it would be a great way to try something new in terms of food as well as my blogging.

The contest is called the “Canadian Lentils Recipe Revelations Contest Challenge 2015” (a bit of a mouthful, eh? <– look, already my Canadian-isms are coming out! That’s worth a point…eh? *giggling to self because self is funny*), and is put on by the Saskatchewan Pulse Growers. Which is a non-profit that I didn’t know existed but apparently does. Did you know that there are over 18,000 pulse growers in Saskatchewan? Neither did I. (I now envision Saskatchewan as one giant pulse farm, fyi. Green sprouty things as far as the eye can see!)

I also didn’t know exactly what a pulse was. In case you don’t either, it’s a “leguminous crop”. That totally clears it up, right? No? Basically, it’s a legume, like chickpeas, beans, and peas. Or, as I like to say, it’s ‘bean-ish’. “Leguminous crop” vs ‘bean-ish’. I think my explanation wins.

I checked out the lentils.ca website, and wow, was I ever surprised! I had no idea that you could put lentils into so many things! Baking delicious baked goods? Throw in some cooked lentils for extra fibre. Cooking savoury stews? Throw in some lentils for thickener. You’d never know the dish contained lentils, and you’d be healthier for it!

Speaking of healthy, I’ve mentioned before that I have IBS, so I eat a lot of salad for the fibre (where am I going with this? You’ll see!) As well, I’m a vegetarian, and I tend to be low in iron, which lentils actually have quite a bit of (a 1/2 c. contains about 1/2 the iron one needs each day). I also need to eat some more non-dairy protein (I rely a bit too much on probiotic Greek yoghurt for my protein), and lentils get about 30% of their calories from protein. As such, lentils are kind of the perfect food for me!

But…aren’t they kind of blah? Not so, my friend! Sure, if you only eat lentils in lentil soup, or as a mealy side dish, then yes, you’d get sick of them. But they don’t have to be boring!

I made…lentil salad sprinkles! That’s right, they’re a crispy, savoury snack that can be sprinkled on top of salad, to pump up the fibre, protein, and iron of your salad, while still managing to taste delicious!

You think I jest? Try out this easy peasy recipe!

ready for roasting

Ready for roasting! Add in seasoning at will. Mix it up! This batch will be savoury. But…what about a sweet batch? Of course, my mind goes straight to chocolate covered lentils. I wonder if that’s a thing?

Savoury Lentil Salad Sprinkles

  • 1 c. cooked lentils
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil (you can use vegetable oil, but olive oil is healthier)
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. curry powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste 

Mix all ingredients together. Spread out in a thin layer on a foil-lined cookie tray, and bake for 15 min. at 375 degrees. Stir them all up and spread them out again, and bake for another 10-15 minutes. They should be dry and crispy, but not burnt. Let cool, sprinkle on salad, and enjoy!

I’ve brought these to work and had colleagues rave about them. Think wasabi peas without the wasabi, but just as savoury and crunchy and yummy and with some heat and just hitting the spot! My first batch is already gone and I plan on making another asap, because a) healthy, b) delicious, and c) easy — it’s a cooking trifecta! In other words…make them! And then eat them and be smugly healthy.

Next Post: Finally, my bok choy dish! Or…slow cooker vanilla rice pudding? Probably bok choy. Is sooo good! But then, so is the vanilla rice pudding! Decisions, decisions.

Linking up at A Proverbs 31 Wife

Granola Energy Bars & Eating Lighter (in theory, if not in practice)

Nutrient and calorie dense. Also delicious!

Nutrient and calorie dense. Also delicious!

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m part of an on-line baking group, cooking our way through Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi cookbook. Today’s recipe is Granola Energy Bars. Hereafter christened Granola Extremely High Caloric Intake Energy Bars. Why? Read on, mes amis!

I started out using Dorie’s base of 2 cups of oats to 2 cups of dried fruit and nuts. And then I modified the recipe, because of course. Instead of pepitas (which I forgot to put on my shopping list and therefore did not have in the house), I just used more pecans. I used dried cranberries for the fruit, and then I used unsweetened shredded coconut to make it a tad healthier. I mean, you’re adding rice syrup — that should make it sweet enough! And then I mixed in a half cup of chocolate chips. Because sugar from chocolate does not count.

Pre-mixing! The benefits of the oats and nuts cancel out  the calories of the  chocolate and rice syrup, right? I'm pretty sure that's how it works.

Pre-mixing! The benefits of the oats and nuts cancel out the calories of the chocolate and rice syrup, right? I’m pretty sure that’s how it works.

I had read on the Baking with Dorie group site, that others had tried adding chocolate chips, but that they had melted, so I thought I’d let the butter/syrup mixture cool before adding it to the granola. Then I mixed it all up before adding in the chocolate chips just before pressing the mixture into the pan. Did this work? Um, no. I should have let the granola cool after toasting it, but I didn’t, so the mixture turned into a melty, chocolate tinged-and-tasting bowl of yumminess. Melty chocolate? A serendipitious kitchen win for me!

The chocolatey goodness, prior to melting.

The chocolatey goodness, prior to melting.

While I can’t give you the recipe, you can definitely check out the book from the public library. Or buy it! I’m definitely learning some new techniques while baking through this book, so despite my occasional frustration, it’s actually a good book.

I can give you the brief gist of things though: toast, mix, bake, squish, cut, and eat. Er, squish?

That’s right, squishing is integral to the…integrity…of the finished product. The batter/dough/granola-whatever-you-call-it, bakes up light and a tad airy, so you have to squish it all down with a spatula in order for it to stick together enough that you can cut it into bars when it’s cooled.

I cut mine and then decided to spread melted chocolate on top. (Who needs a reason to add chocolate? Not I!)

Chocolate makes everything better. It also hides a multitude of (slightly burned) sins.

Chocolate makes everything better. It also hides a multitude of (slightly burned) sins.

I calculated the calories in each of these bars. Are you ready for this? 365 calories in each leeetle bar. At least in my version of them. They might be choc-a-block full of nutrients, but they’re not a diet food!

The DH and I are trying to eat healthier this season, which means lots of salad. (I do like my salad.) It also means that I’m trying to cut down on the amount of baking that I do. These high-energy bars will have to last me for two weeks. Do you think it’s possible, given my love of midnight snacking? Just thinking about the lack of snacking makes me want to eat another bar. So if you’ll excuse me, off I go to nibble on a chocolate-infused granola bar!

Next Post: Rum balls. So much for healthy! Followed by bulgur salad, repentantly.