I, like so many other people, am a snacker. While I typically eat three main meals per day, those meals are sometimes not very substantial due to my tendency to graze throughout the day (sometimes it's the other way around). What's nice about this time of year is that the selection of seasonal fruit seems to be expanding favorably, so I don't always necessarily reach for convenient, and frequently unhealthy, junk food. But as a carbohydrate addict, I do have a soft spot for starchy foods, especially during snack time. I try to stick to nuts or other proteins to fuel me, and although that doesn't always work out, my snacking habits have definitely improved over the last few years of being nearly fast food-free (unfortunately, French fries still tempt me).
This last week has produced a few snacks that I've thoroughly enjoyed. Unsurprisingly, they fall largely on the carbohydrate side of things; I was brought up on a love for potatoes, bread, and rice, and that attachment runs deep. Thankfully, I've learned a great deal about portion control over the years--much to my benefit health-wise--and have been fairly good at not completely going overboard with the snacking. Check out these between-meal goodies:
Baked sweet potato fries. I sprinkled them with Creole seasoning, drizzled them with the slightest touch of olive oil, and baked them on a wire rack placed over a baking sheet for optimal crispness. On another occasion, I topped some fries with smoky black beans and Daiya vegan cheddar slices, broiled them until the "cheese" melted, and enjoyed them for lunch.
Simple, crispy fried rice. This is very quick and easy to make, and actually isn't really frying in the sense that a nonstick pan greatly limits, if not eliminates, the need for oil. I heated up a nonstick skillet and spritzed it with a very small amount of oil. After adding some cooked white rice, I mixed in a splash or so of shoyu and cracked black pepper, cooking for a minute or two over low to medium heat before pressing the rice together to allow it to clump and form a crust on the bottom. Once a golden crust formed, I flipped the rice over, disturbing the clumps as little as possible, and cooked the rice until the crust formed on the other side. Those crisp edges on the rice is the best part of this snack, and achieving that golden crust is the whole point of the pan method. My mom often did this to leftover rice when I was a child and we both still enjoy it in this really basic form.
Granola bars. This is take number two of the granola bars I half-successfully attempted to make last week. I ended up using slightly more brown rice syrup than called for in the recipe to ensure that all of the components would stick enough to actually form bars. I also threw in chopped hazelnuts; crispy rice cereal; a pinch of salt; and ground cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom. Fortunately, this batch stuck together, resulting in bars that were nutty, crispy, chewy, sweet, and pretty addictive.
Sourdough pretzels. I used my go-to recipe to make these, with a few alterations: I substituted some of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour, replaced the butter with vegan buttery spread, used two tablespoons of barley malt syrup instead of sugar, and added about a tablespoon of baking soda to the water during the boiling stage. I have always been a big fan of pretzels, and this version is always tasty, with a crisp brown crust, chewy interior, and hint of sourdough flavor.
As much as I can snack on these little treats all day, I know I should be eating more substantial and more nutritionally well-rounded food. I'm aching to cook up a storm in the kitchen anyway, which I haven't done in quite some time. Hopefully, I'll be churning out more proper meals in the near future, in which case I'll be sure to share them with you here!