snacks

Super Good Snack Mix by emily penn

I’m not sure if it was just a my-family thing or a universal thing, but somewhere in my childhood we got into the tradition of making homemade Chex Mix around the holidays. I LOVED Chex Mix growing up, store-bought or homemade. It embodies the two most important components I’m constantly chasing in food - salt and crunch.

Ever since I started giving a damn about what I was eating (about 7 years ago) I’ve tried to recreate a healthier version of homemade Chex Mix every holiday season. The problem I run into every time is the cereal - all of it is garbage. It’s either made from inflammatory grains (hi corn) or it has added sugar - even the not-sweet cereals! I had just kind of resigned that this was going to always be the case, but things really turned around this year.

I finally figured out a way to make a (super-addictive) snack mix that is salty, savory, crunchy and NOT TERRIBLE FOR YOU! If that’s not a holiday miracle, then I don’t know what is!

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Super Good Snack Mix

cook time 1 hour / total time 1 hour 10 minutes
makes approximately 5 cups

Ingredients
3 cups plantain chips
1 cup cashews
1 cup pecans
3 tbsp olive oil
1 1⁄2 tbsp coconut aminos
1⁄2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 1⁄2 tsp garlic powder
1 1⁄2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp sea salt
1⁄4 tsp paprika

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 250.

  2. Add plantain chips, cashews and pecans into a large bowl. Set aside.

  3. In a small saucepan over medium heat, add the rest of the ingredients. Whisk together until there are no clumps and the oil mixture is slightly warm, about 3 minutes.

  4. Pour oil mixture in the bowl with plantain chips and nuts. Stir the mixture with a large spoon until the everything is evenly coated.

  5. Pour the snack mix on a baking sheet in an even layer and pop in the oven. Give the mix a stir every 15 minutes for an hour.

  6. After the hour, remove from the oven and allow the mix to cool completely. Store in an airtight container. It will be best for up to a week, but I doubt it will last that long.

Notes
* I like Inka brand plantain chips, which uses palm oil. Palm oil is a better choice over refined vegetable oils such as canola, soy or sunflower.
* You could use worchestire sauce or tamari in place of the coconut aminos.

Good Food: Chocolate Cinnamon Maca Balls by emily penn

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the good
Ever since I came up with this recipe, I've been making it weekly. I love it so much. It's the perfect sweet treat that will take me through the afternoon until dinner. I even enjoy it as a dessert occasionally!

the medicine
Healthy fats from the walnuts, seeds and coconut fill you up & help keep blood sugar stable so you're not crashing a few hours later. 

These also include one awesome ingredient - maca. Maca is a root from South America & was used medicinally for thousands of years by the Peruvians. At one point it "was considered such a potent and valuable herb, its use was restricted to the royal court and the imperial family". Maca supports energy, balances hormones, supports fertility, supports immunity, & has positive effects on mood. It also has a slightly sweet, malty flavor so it's perfect to pair with dessert or throw in smoothies. I love it - I add it to smoothies & morning bevvies all the time. If you don't have maca - don't worry this recipe will still work & is still awesome.

tips
You can make these keto-friendly by omitting the dates & sweetening with stevia instead. They won't be as "sticky" but can still be rolled into balls. Alternatively you can press them into a pan, let them harden and then cut into bars.

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Chocolate Cinnamon Maca Balls

total time 10 min/makes 20ish balls

ingredients
1 cup walnuts
1 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup hemp seeds
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup coconut butter, soft
2 tbsp cacao powder
2 tbsp cacao nibs (optional)
1 tbsp maca (optional)
1 tbsp cinnamon
4 dates
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt

directions
1. If your dates aren't already super soft, soak them in warm water for a few minutes while you put everything else in a food processor. 
2. Process all ingredients for a couple minutes until dates, nuts & seeds are broken down & it's a mostly smooth mixture.
3. Form the mixture into bite-sized balls. This is best done by kind of squeezing the dough into a ball shape & tossing it from hand to hand, gently squeezing & shaping. It doesn't roll between your palms like most energy balls (because it has much fewer dates - aka that sticky binding agent).
4. Arrange on a plate & stick in the fridge for an hour or so to set. Once set, you can store them in the fridge for a week or so, or in the freezer for much longer.

Good Food: High Energy Super Snacks by emily penn

the good

I've given you two options for these nut mixes - one sweet and savory to accommodate your snacking mood. These are super fast to make, you can make a lot and have snacks on deck for weeks, plus it's cheaper than buying store-bought stuff!

the medicine

Nuts & seeds are packed with healthy fats, protein & other important vitamins & minerals to help keep energy high & tide you over until your next meal. They're also easy to grab & take on the go. I roast them at a low temperature to keep their healthy  fats intact (high heat can damage oils found in nuts & seeds). Also if you're feeling like a super star, you could soak & dehydrate your nuts ahead of time.

Curried Nut + Seed mix

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active time: 5 min/total time: 30

ingredients:
1 cup walnuts
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup coconut chips
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt + pepper to taste

directions:
1. Preheat oven to 250. Put walnuts, pumpkin seeds & coconut chips in a small bowl & set aside.
2. In a small saucepan, gently warm olive oil, curry powder, garlic powder, salt & pepper. Mix well. Once small bubbles start to appear in the oil, turn off the heat & let sit for 5 minutes.
3. Pour oil & spice mixture over nuts. Toss to coat evenly. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet.
4. Bake 25 minutes, or until just starting to turn golden (the coconut chips are a good gauge). Let cool completely & store in an airtight container. 

Sweet + Spiced Nuts

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active time: 5 min/total time: 30 min

ingredients
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup hazelnuts
1/4 cup coconut chips
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp clove
generous pinch of salt

directions
1. Preheat oven to 250. Put pecans, hazelnuts & coconut chips in a small bowl & set aside.
2. In a small saucepan, gently warm coconut oil, cinnamon, clove & salt. Mix well. Once small bubbles start to appear in the oil, turn off the heat & let sit for 5 minutes.
3. Pour oil & spice mixture over nuts. Toss to coat evenly. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet.
4. Bake 25 minutes, or until just starting to turn golden (the coconut chips are a good gauge). Let cool completely & store in an airtight container.