Monday, January 29, 2018

Wholesome Snacking

During the holiday season, I've been known to have meals consisting entirely of cookies (the oatmeal cookies with dried cherries turned out especially well last year). There are also plenty of celebratory get-togethers with friends, family, and co-workers that are perfect excuses to indulge. Not that I need excuses--I have always been an indulgent person. I don't feel "guilty" when I've eaten something naughty because I'm not a little girl anymore and I refuse to fall into the trap of self-loathing just because I occasionally do something that I enjoy. Ladies, you know what I'm talking about.

However, I do know there's a time to indulge, and a time to cut back on the snacking. Notice I didn't say "eliminate" snacking. Some people are snackers. Some would rather nibble a little of this and a little of that all day long than sit down and eat a meal with fork and knife. But rather than snacking on a fistful of cookies, full of sugar and fat and white flour, post-holiday snacking should involve more whole foods, like nuts and popcorn. I got into the habit of eating dried fruit and nuts when I was doing Whole30 last year, so I decided to stock up on similar snacks to ease me away from cookies and back into eating more healthily.

We shop at ShopRite Supermarkets' fairly regularly, so I decided to try items from their line of Wholesome Pantry snacks. The Wholesome Pantry brand includes hundreds of products like pasta sauce and eggs, all of which are made from simple, clean ingredients and free of unpronounceable chemicals. We already buy the Wholesome Pantry Organic Salad Blends, so venturing into snack land was a no-brainer.

We tried the Energy Mix (sunflower seeds, organic raisins, dried cranberries, nuts, and dried apples) that are great to toss in a backpack or in the car for when the urge for something crunchy/sweet/chewy arises, pecan halves, and dried Fuji apple crisps (sooo addictive) plus the somewhat more fancy Crushed Pepper & Truffle Oil popcorn. It was pretty easy to kill the whole bag while binge-watching The Crown. We also got a jar of almond butter. We eat the stuff all the time, and I like to use it in hummus.

My hummus is pretty non-traditional. I am allergic to chickpeas, so I use any other canned bean, plus almond butter, lots of garlic, lemon, and olive oil. The last time I made it, I used the Wholesome Pantry almond butter and lemon-flavored olive oil instead of lemon juice, which gave it such a sunny flavor.

I also tossed some of the Wholesome Pantry pecan halves on a warm farro and broccoli salad that I served with lamb meatballs. They added just the right crunch to the dish.

So far the healthy snacking has been working for me. The natural fats and sugars from nuts and dried fruit fill me up better than a handful of cookies, so I'm actually shoving food into my pie-hole less-often. Maybe now I'll drop those couple pounds I always seem to pick up in December.

Warm Farro and Broccoli Salad with Pecans

1 lb broccoli
Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup farro, cooked according to package directions
Lemon juice
Wholesome Pantry pecan halves

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Separate the broccoli into medium sized florets. Peel stems and slice them lengthwise into strips. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Toss with olive oil and salt and roast in a preheated oven until florets start to get some good browning on them and the stems are tender, 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the farro.

Remove the broccoli from the oven and chop it roughly. Toss the warm broccoli and farro together in a bowl. Squeeze over lemon juice to taste and season with additional salt, if needed. You may also add other seasonings like chile flakes, garlic, black pepper--whatever sounds good to you.

Crush up a small handful of pecans and stir into the salad. Serve immediately.

Serves 2 as a meal, 4 as a side dish.

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