Category Archives: Sides

Snacker Day Saturday: 6/23

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These skewers are super capr-easy. And, they’ll use up produce from gardens I know that some of you are growing. Ripe cherry tomatoes literally burst with flavor while roasting in the oven, tofu sizzles, and fresh basil, well…freshens up the whole flavor. All of this gets dunked into a nice cool bath of seasoned balsamic vinegar.

I love any take on the traditional caprese salad. One of my favorite versions that I’ve had is at a little place called the Saxapahaw General Store in Saxapahaw, North Carolina. My parents came to visit me so I took them to the locally-supplied restaurant which is located in a converted gas station. Cool, right? My mom and I decided to do a sandwich swap and ordered a roasted vegetable sandwich and a Mozzarella Caprese sandwich. Although it’s been over a year, I can’t get the taste of the Mozzarella Caprese out of my mind. A freshly baked baguette, meaty slices of ripe tomatoes, delicate fresh leaves of basil, and thick chunks of mozzarella, all coated with a home-made balsamic vinaigrette. Yum.

The other day I was hunkered down in my basement fort, armed with my Hemingway text in one hand and a pen in the other. And I was trying to concentrate. I really was. But all that caught my attention was a view of this out the window:
Once I saw the clouds, I started worrying that the downpour that would surely ensue would blow all of my little cherry tomatoes away. I’ve been working hard on taking care of those little guys – I mean, I get a gym membership’s worth of strength training lugging two watering cans out to the plants each day. I set down Hemingway and ran upstairs to go collect all of my little tomatoes and I saved them all before the sky opened up.

Fast forward a few hours through a soldier falling in love with a nurse, me writing a blog post for the Chamber of Commerce, and working on applications for grad school. Lunch rolled around and my collection of tomatoes sat waiting for me in a little bowl on the counter. And then, inspiration hit: a summery lunch that would use all of my precious tomatoes and some of the basil leaves that have been winding wildly towards the screen window they sit by.

To make my cap-reasy salad skewers, all you need are some tiny cherry tomatoes (aren’t they the cutest?), a few cubes of tofu, some fresh basil, and some good balsamic vinegar for dipping. Pop ’em in the oven, pop ’em in your mouth. Bada-bing, bada-boom. These mini-skewers are as cute as the ingredients that top them. They’d be perfect as hors d’ oeuvres at a party, a fresh summer lunch, or as an appetizer at a barbeque. Or as a refreshing snack in the midst of a Snacker Day Saturday!

Moral of the story: I’m really, really glad I rescued my cherry tomatoes from the storm! Other moral of the story: waiting is challenging. I used all my cherry tomatoes on this lunch so I’m now going to sit outside by my tomato plants and beg and plead them to ripen faster so I can make more of these delicious skewers. Okay, don’t worry, I won’t really go talk to my plants, but I sure am excited for the next batch of them to ripen up!

Capr-easy Salad Skewers
Ingredients
*Note: I’m not including amounts in this recipe. I’ll let you know how to make the skewers, but feel free to make as many or as little as your heart desires (or however many your garden dictates)
Cherry tomatoes
Firm tofu
Garlic powder
Fresh basil leaves
Balsamic vinegar
Italian seasoning blend
How To
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Spray a cookie sheet lightly with cooking spray. Place washed cherry tomatoes onto the sheet.
3. Cut tofu into small blocks and dry them by pressing on them with a paper towel to extract excess moisture. Next, toss them in a little bit of garlic powder.

4. Put the seasoned tofu blocks onto the cookie sheet alongside the cherry tomatoes. Put the sheet in the oven. Bake for 10-20 minutes, or until the tomatoes have burst and the tofu is slightly firm on the outside.
5. Grab some toothpicks. Slide a tomato, a piece of tofu, and a fresh basil leaf onto each.
6. In a small bowl, mix balsamic vinegar with Italian seasoning. Add a drizzle of olive oil if you’d like.
7. Serve up a savory summertime snack that everyone will feel good about eating!

Now, for the reading portion of today’s snacker day: I suggest you read a book called Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life  by Barbara Kingsolver. No, it’s not a ‘snack-sized’ read like most of the literature I try recommending on Saturdays, but this one is a great book to sit down and enjoy during summer. Barbara Kingsolver and her family grow their own food for a year and chronicle their experiences. If you’ve got a garden of your own, are looking to start one, or are simply interested in eating local, natural, real food, this is a book you’ll probably love. I really enjoyed it when I read it a couple years ago! It came to mind today while I was picking my food for lunch – it felt good that most of my meal came from the vine and landed on my plate mere minutes later. Hope you have a great Snacker Day Saturday!

Healthy Whole-Wheat Nectarine Bread

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Quick! Run to the grocery store and buy a nectarine!  You’ll need it to make this.I’d love to share a slice of this with you from the loaf I just made but I’m afraid that’s not possible. Why? Because this bread is going, going…Gone.

I hope you’ve stopped reading this post for a second to run to the store to buy a nectarine. Or a whole bushel so you can make a loaf of this stuff every day. Trust me, you’ll want to. And you won’t feel a single morsel of guilt eating the whole loaf while you’re home alone for the day a few slices because this bread is super healthy. Whole-wheat  flour and sweet morsels of nectarine are united in this bread to create a bread that packs the heartiness of honest-to-goodness whole-wheat, and the delicate notes of fresh fruit. It’s the best of both worlds; filling yet delicate in the same bite.

I usually wouldn’t urge anyone to make a bread recipe. I mean seriously, bread?? I’m usually not the biggest fan of bread (unless it’s my grandma’s loaded, homemade, fresh-from-the-garden zucchini bread, or my other grandma’s decadent walnut-date bread – either of those I could easily eat in one sitting). But this bread that I made today is really, really good. I dunked a few slices into some vanilla yogurt and slathered some peanut butter on top of another chunk. This bread would be perfect as a wholesome breakfast when paired with some yogurt, a post-workout snack when matched with some protein-packed peanut butter and maybe a drizzle of honey, by itself as a snack, or warmed up for dessert and served with a giant scoop of vanilla ice cream. I guess you guys all know what my diet’s going to look like the next few days: this bread for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. But before I proceed to eat this for the rest of the week, I’ll have to make another loaf. Here’s the recipe so you can make one too!

Healthy Whole-Wheat Nectarine Bread
Ingredients
1 cup whole-wheat flour (I used Hodgson Mill’s Whole-Wheat Flour because they grind their wheat in a way that preserves all the good stuff)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
2 tablespoons milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 nectarine, chopped into small chunks
How To
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients (from flour to sugar). Stir the ingredients so that they are mixed well.
3. Add the ‘wet ingredients’ (from apple sauce to vanilla extract). Mix batter well.
4. Last, add the chopped up nectarine and gently fold the pieces in.
5. Spray a bread pan with cooking spray and then pour the batter into the pan. Bake the bread in the 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes. Stick a thin knife or a toothpick into the center of the bread to check if it is done. Then, gather your friends and family around and serve up a slice of goodness.
If you’re not too busy whippin’ this bread up yet, I’d just like to say that I apologize for the lack of book-related material on here lately. I haven’t been in the mood to write about books on here for the past couple weeks because I’m in the middle of research for school. Research=writing tons and TONS about books. I’m currently reading A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway which is plenty of book-action for me write now. I hope you caught that last pun. While I am sorry for not providing any book-insight lately, I’m glad to present you with recipes like this one. Hope you love it!

Snacker Day Saturday: 6/16

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This snacker day is going to be a little different than usual. I’ve got a new drink recipe to share with you, but mostly I just want to spend a little time reviewing the smoothie recipes I’ve worked really hard to come up with all week. Also, I’ve got something to celebrate – read on to see why I’ve got a big smile plastered on my face right now.

First, I’ll go ahead and give up my recipe for the day. I’ve got no pictures to go with this (sorrryyyy), but trust me – this smoothie is so good that if you make it, you’ll guzzle it down before you even have a chance to look at it. Or realize it’s got 3 cups of spinach in it. What??

I got the idea for this smoothie from one of my favorite bloggers Angela, at Oh She Glows. She always raves about these “Green Monsters” that she drinks. There are SO many different variations that she makes that I was overwhelmed by options! And of course, when confronted with a recipe, I of course ran away from it and came up with my own concoction. It’s FULL of some of the best foods you can put into your body, tastes like dessert, and I drink it all up for breakfast. Is there any better way to start the day?

Lean Green Breakfast Machine
Ingredients
1 banana (frozen and sliced)
1 cup blueberries (frozen)
3 cups spinach
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
Ice if needed
Sweetener if needed
How To
1. Blend it all up and soak up the goodness!!

I hope you enjoy trying that smoothie out this Saturday. There’s no better to start a weekend morning than by energizing yourself with healthy foods and feeling great about the way you start your day! I’ve been drinking variations of this smoothie for a week now for breakfast and am often tempted to repeat the smoothie for lunch and dinner. Buuuuuut, life might get a little boring if this was all I consumed, so here’s a quick recap of some other great cool-drink concoctions you can try for these hot summer days. And keep reading…the exciting snacker day news is on the way!

Tropical Dreamsicle Smoothies
Reminiscent of a classic orange creamsicle treat, these smoothies will have both kids and adults screaming for the dream.

Mock Mojito Slushies
Tantalizing and tart, these slushies will add some pep to your step and a burst of citrus to your tastebuds.
Strawberry Shortcake Smoothie
Seasonal strawberries star in this smoothie.

Sparkling Watermelon Lemonade on the Rocks
The title says it all!

Chocolate Cherry Smoothie
Tall, dark, and handsome? Try tall glass, rich dark chocolate, and a good lookin’ bunch of fresh cherries.

It’s been a fun week for me making all of these smoothies. I can say that I’m 100% hydrated after sippin’ on all of these drinks, and probably have had my fill of fruits for the week. Each drink has a unique flavor, and I really love the versatility that exists in this list.

Before I leave you to have a great weekend, I want to ANNOUNCE MY EXCITING NEWS! I’d just like to thank all of you who use Pinterest and have been pinning my Squash Chips. Remember these when I made them at the end of March?

Since I posted the recipe, I’ve had 37,489 views of the recipe. Never in my wildest dreams would I have expected a little squash chip experiment in my apartment kitchen to reach so many people. That’s what I love about blogging – the ability to connect with people you might not otherwise have the chance to. So, in short, thank you readers!!!! You make blogging so much fun! I love hearing your ideas, suggestions, feedback, and encouragement. Hope you have a fantastic Snacker Day Saturday and a great rest of the weekend.

Strawberry Shortcake Smoothies

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Strawberries always remind me of Alaska. When we lived in Anchorage, we had a small garden where we grew strawberries, chives, rhubarb, and raspberries. The strawberries that we grew were always the cutest. Their yellow seeds weren’t any bigger than an aphid, green stems as small as newly sprouted leaves, and the actual berries were as tiny as thimbles. We’d water them and watch the plants slowly unfurl under the seemingly endless sunlight that only an Alaskan summer can bring.

While we waited for berries  to ripen we occupied ourselves by swimming in a kiddie pool in our front yard, collecting daddy long leg spiders, and playing in our top secret fort in the backyard. We hiked out as a family to the same lake each year to canoe, swim, and stay in a little cabin on an island where we’d roast hot dogs over the fire and complain about the smelly outhouse. We’d gather the cul-de-sac kids and play baseball on our pavement diamond, hitting plastic baseballs into anyone and everyone’s yard without care. We attempted to hatch a ladybug nest in our kitchen one year and a praying mantis the next, never succeeding. We learned to fish, about harvesting and giving back to the earth, and about the abundance of the Alaskan wilderness. We did a lot while the berries ripened.

Alaska will always hold a special place in my heart. It was there that I was born, learned to hike like a billy-goat, developed my tolerance for the cold, started a habit of swimming in any body of water available to me, craved fresh produce, started loving the mountains and lakes and the trees, and the patience to wait for something small and seemingly insubstantial to grow so sweet. There’s nothing sweeter than eating a button-sized strawberry you grew yourself.

Since we didn’t harvest too many strawberries (thanks to two little kids and a host of woodland creatures who loved to snack on them), we usually just ate our strawberries plain. A delicious summertime treat that gleans sweetness from these plump red berries is one I’m sure you all know and love: strawberry shortcake.

I thought I’d try to bring a little bit of strawberry shortcake action into the world of smoothies with this recipe that I came up with today. I love the flavor of the berries in this smoothie, along with the texture that the oats bring. Best of all, it’s bursting with the taste of strawberries that always brings me back to Alaska. My mom tried this smoothie with me and she commented that it tasted like a smoothie version of a strawberry crumble. This smoothie would be a perfect, well-rounded breakfast, or a refreshing dessert that is healthy and wholesome to boot. It’s fun to serve parfait style (as pictured) or to blend all the ingredients up for a great mixture of flavors and textures. It would be an easy party dessert or brunch addition to make beforehand and store in the freezer.

Strawberry Shortcake Smoothie
Serves 1-2 people
Ingredients
For the “strawberries”:
4 oz. non-fat vanilla yogurt (or use vanilla Wholesoy or a different brand if vegan)
1/4 cup vanilla almond milk
1 cup frozen, chopped strawberries
Optional: sugar, if desired. I made mine without and it was great!
For the “shortcake”:
1/4 cup oats
A little more than 1/4 cup vanilla almond milk
Optional: Pinch of Cream of Tartar (I used it to make it taste a little more like shortcake, but if you don’t have it, don’t sweat it)
Sugar (again, add sugar to this mixture if you’d like. I enjoyed mine sans sugar.)
How To
1. The night before you want to make this (or eight hours before), mix oats and milk in a small tupperware or bowl. Store it in the fridge. If you’ve made overnight oats before, this is essentially the same thing. You want this mixture to be pretty thick so adjust oat and milk ratio as necessary.
2. Eight hours or a night after you make the oat mixture, get ready to make a great smoothie! In a blender, combine all components of the strawberry mixture. Add extra milk to this mixture if you need to in order to help it blend smoother.
3. At this point, choose whether you’d like to make parfaits, or just one big glass of strawberry shortcake goodness. If you’re making parfaits: spoon some of the oat mixture into the bottom of small glasses. Top with smoothie mixture. If you’d like to add a little extra flavor and nice presentation, top with a small dollop of vanilla yogurt and a strawberry slice. Sprinkle a few uncooked oats on top as well to add a little extra crunch.  If you’re making a smoothie: dump oats into blender and blend mixture until all is mixed well. Pour smoothie into a glass or two and dive into sweet summertime strawberry-filled bliss. If you’re making the smoothie, feel free to top it off with a little yogurt, some oats, and strawberry slices as well. Hope enjoy it enough to scoop every last morsel out of the parfait glass like I did – this photoshoot was hard to get through without sampling!

Snacker Day Saturday: 6/02

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There’s nuttin’ butter than a cold treat on a hot day. In these summer months, everything starts tasting better frozen. Frozen grapes, frozen spiced orange slices, frozen popsicles. You name it, it’s almost always got a shot at tasting better frozen when the temperatures hit over 100. Well, we’re not quite to that temperature here yet, but I’m getting prepared. This means that my freezer right now is loaded with ice cream (typical), and some new little frozen friends that have joined the half-gallon staple of cookies and cream ice cream that resides there.

Did any of you watch the spelling bee the other night? If you did, maybe you caught my spelling mistake in the first paragraph (“nuttin’ butter” should be “nothing better”). Don’t worry, it was intentional but after watching the spelling bee the other night I feel like I am a crummy speller now. When I was in first grade I was entered into my school spelling bee and I got eliminated by spelling the word ‘salami’ wrong so maybe that’s one indication as to why I didn’t ever get entered into the national version of the contest. I couldn’t believe how talented the kids were who were competing!! I’m an English major in college and I can’t hold a flame to their spelling smarts! But nevertheless, my point in telling you this (longwinded, as always) is that I have a treat that is full of Nutter Butters. And cheesecake. And it’s bite sized. And frozen. Whew, it just gets better and better!

On this snacker day Saturday, I bring to you a decadent bite of happiness that is guilt-free, bikini friendly, refreshing, and delicious. And, if you saw the pictures I posted yesterday, I have a use for the leftover cheesecake pudding that you might have on hand. This is one of the least homemade desserts I’ve ever made but that’s alright by me.  It’s simple, versatile, and could be used as a cute party dessert when company is over or just to have on hand in the freezer in case a bad day strikes and you just really need a piece of cheesecake to put a smile back on. There’s really nuttin’ butter than that!

Nuttin’ Butter than Cheesecake Bites
Ingredients
1 snack-package of mini Nutter Butters
1 package fat-free, sugar-free cheesecake pudding mix
1 1/2 cups skim milk
How To
1. Without cracking open the Nutter Butters, use your hands to smash up the cookies while they’re still in the bag. Crush them up as fine as you can.
2. Set out a mini muffin tin and put a liner in each. Then, dump the cookies so they are equally dispersed.
3. Make the pudding by combining the pudding powder with the milk. Whisk for about 2 minutes. It should be extra thick.
4. Scoop pudding into mini-muffin tins and smooth the pudding down. Put the muffin tin in the freezer and wait for the pudding to harden. Then, take out a mini-treat as often as your heart desires and bite into a rich, flavorful snack!

Problem: you have extra cheesecake pudding and not enough muffin tins to hold it all.
Solution: grab a few mini Chips Ahoy cookies and gently smash the pudding between two cookies. Bam. Instant itsy bitsy whoopie pies!

Variations: you could pretty much use any flavor of pudding and any “crust” to make these desserts. Use what you have on hand (or have a hankering for) and get creative! Oreo crust with vanilla pudding? Graham cracker crust with butterscotch pudding? Vanilla wafers with banana pudding? I could go on and on and on. What are some of your great ideas for these little treats? Another suggestion: make a bunch of different kinds and then serve them to guests as a sort of tasting party for dessert! I think I might have to try that sometime soon!

Hope you enjoy these little cheesecake bites. I certainly am. A perfect pairing with a snack as luxurious as this one? How about reading this blog. I came across it yesterday and think it’s one of the coolest blogs I’ve seen out there. Two friends contribute their greatest talents (creativity in photography and writing) to produce a blog about making delicious food, photographing it, and telling a story about it or related to it. It’s a fresh take on food, writing, and the two elements combined. Plus, the photography and writing are both gorgeous so I urge you to take a little time while you’re snacking to check the blog out!

Have a great snacker day Saturday! See you soon with a recipe for creamy pie that’ll make you swoon.

Potatoes ‘n Parsley

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As you probably have realized from reading my blog, my mind works in a way where almost everything is connected to food. Which means when I’m reading (for pleasure or for study), I constantly relate what I’m reading to food in some way. Whether it’s conjuring up an image of a character’s favorite meal, or coming up with a recipe that reflects a text, I always find a way to daydream about eating while I’m reading. This explains why I stuck parsley on top of mashed red-potatoes because I thought it would look like trees on top of a mountain.

I did this because I’ve been reading a book that my grandma recommended called The Education of Little Tree. It is such a good book, and different from what I’ve been reading lately! It’s a book about a boy named Little Tree who lives with his ‘Granma’ and ‘Granpa’ and is raised with the traditional Cherokee values that they instill in him. He is able to roam free through the woods, learns how to harvest properly from the earth, and receive a different education than traditional schooling. While most children his age are enrolled in traditional school, Little Tree observes his grandparents and soaks up their beliefs, values, and experience. His Granma reads to him from Shakespeare plays, he is instructed to learn 5 words per week from a dictionary and use them in conversation, and his Granpa instructs him in his whiskey trade that supports the family. At an extremely young age, Little Tree possesses not only textbook-type knowledge, but an ongoing learning relationship with other people and the earth. His curiosity in regards to how he can better engage in a relationship with the world around him is astounding; he constantly notes the actions of creatures around him – the wiliness of a fox, the tenderness of a mourning dove, and the passiveness of fish relaxing in deep holes in the creek bed. He knows when to harvest plants and maintains a deep respect for mother earth when taking anything to eat for himself. And perhaps the most beautiful aspect of his ‘education’ comes from the wisdom imparted from his grandparents, both vocally and through actions. A quote from this book that really hit me is this:

“Granma said everybody has two minds. One of the minds has to do with the necessaries for body living. You had to use it to figure out how to get shelter and eating and such like for the body. But she said we had another mind that had nothing atall to do with such. She said it was the spirit mind.
Granma said that when your body died, the body-living mind died with it, and if that’s the way you had thought all your life there you was, stuck with a hickor’nut spirit, as the spirit mind was all that lived when everything else died. Then, Granma said, when you was born back – as you was bound to be – then, there you was, born with a hickor’nut spirit mind that had practical no understanding of anything.
Then it might shrink up to the size of a pea and could disappear. If the body-living mind took over total. In such case, you lost your spirit complete.
That’s how you become dead people. Granma said you could easy spot dead people. She said dead people when they looked at a woman saw nothing but dirty; when they looked at other people they saw nothing but bad; when they looked at a tree they saw nothing but lumber and profit; never beauty. Granma said they was dead people walking around.” [59-60]

I think that this quote has a lot to do with the major themes of the book which are living in harmony with yourself, others, and nature. Every aspect of the characters’ actions contain consideration for others. The connections to nature and a deep appreciation for other humans throughout the story are especially inspiring and lead to reflection. I really enjoyed reading the book! And I also enjoyed both making and eating these parsley-topped mashed potatoes!


Yum.

As I cooked, I thought about The Education of Little Tree and was glad I had fresh parsley to sprinkle on top since in the book, Little Tree explains that “everything growing wild is a hundred times stronger than tame things…and just a handful would carry more flavor” [101]. Although I didn’t just stumble across a parsley plant in the wilderness, I took more time than I usually would to appreciate the freshness of the herb. The flavor of fresh herbs are always so much more potent than the dried and bottled type.

These potatoes are packed with parsley and are a lovely side to light-fish dishes, hearty summer greens, or tofu hot-off-the-grill. They are flavorful, healthy, and if you plate them the right way, they kiiiiiiinnndd of look like potato mountains with parsley trees growing off the sides. Okay, so maybe that’s a stretch, but hey, I tried my best.

Potatoes ‘n Parsley
Ingredients (serves 4)
12 red potatoes
2 tablespoons butter (or earth balance)
1/2-1 1/2 cup vegetable broth
2 tablespoons fresh parsley (plus a bunch more for garnishing at the table!)
How To
1. Put potatoes (with skins still on) in a large pot. Add water to the pot until the water sits about two inches over the potatoes. Set the pot on the stove top and crank the heat up to medium-high or high.
2. Boil the potatoes for about 30-40 minutes, or until potatoes are tender enough to break with a fork.
3. Pour the potatoes into a strainer and dispose of the water. When the potatoes have drained, put them back into the large pot that they were boiled in.
4. Add about 1/2 cup of broth to the potatoes and mash them with a fork or potato masher. Leave the skins on through the entire process- they add nutrients to the dish and a great chunky texture! Continue to add broth as needed, until the potatoes are well mashed and smooth in consistency. Add in butter and stir well. Add parsley and chop more to set out on the table for garnishing. Also, add salt and pepper to taste!
5. Take a little time to thank the earth for the potatoes ‘n parsley, share some food with family and friends, and then dig in!

Snacker Day Saturday: 5/19

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It’s gonna be a great Saturday if you spend a couple minutes in the kitchen whipping these up. Yep, you heard me right – a couple minutes for a perfect sweet and salty snack that’ll blow your tastebuds right out of the kiddie pool and into a lounge chair in the sunshine where they belong. Bonus? They’re so cute that if you managed not to inhale them all straight after making them, they’d be perfect to bring to a summery barbeque, a memorial day picnic, or just as a little snack to pass around during a late-night summer movie with the family. Another bonus? You probably have all the ingredients in your pantry.

Summertime always reminds me of s’mores, which kind of inspired this snack. My brother and I used to sit out in the backyard on fallen logs and roast a bag of marshmallows each over our homemade firepit. I’d brave swarms of ticks and chiggers in the high grass just to find the perfect roasting sticks while my brother fanned the flames. Once the fire simmered to the point in which little coves of scorched logs trapped heat, and we were able to lightly brown our marshmallows by simply twisting our sticks a couple times, we’d break into our bags and start chowing down. And I wasn’t joking when I said we ate a bag of marshmallows each.

Now I know you might be thinking, what do s’more have to do with this snack? There aren’t any graham crackers. Or marshmallows. Or flickering flames lapping up a creamsicle sky. Truth is, I’ve never loved graham crackers. My favorite way to eat marshmallows over a fire is to stuff a marshmallow with a thin sliver of chocolate and then smear peanut butter all over the outside of it after it finishes roasting.

Since my house is currently being rebuilt (it was hit by a tornado), I don’t really have access to our usual firepit. I almost bought marshmallows at the store the other day but it felt wrong to eat them before puffing them up and adding a crispy outer layer to them in the flames. So I did what I do best: I switched up a recipe so it is almost unrecognizable. Case in point – traditional s’mores: graham cracker, chocolate, marshmallow. My revamped summer snack-attack version: pretzels, peanut butter, banana, chocolate. This snack is s’more like in its’ layers, chocolate-laced character, and satisfying sweetness. Oh, and in crowd-pleasing abilities. Trust me, everyone will swarm to these snacks like flies to the sticky-sweet chocolate bars that always melt near the flames. I like to think though, that they’re a little better than s’mores, if only because of the fact that they are nutritionally superior. These nibbles are filled with potassium, protein, and antioxidants. So go ahead, get snackin’!

PB&Choco Banana Pretzel Bites
Ingredients
1 banana
7 pretzels (+1 for sprinkling)
2 tablespoons chunky peanut butter
.5 oz dark chocolate
How To
1. Set out 7 pretzels on a small plate.
2. Spread the peanut butter evenly on each pretzel.
3. Chop the banana into 7 sections (be sure to cut off the two ends of the banana and eat them or discard them – don’t use them on the pretzels). Top each PB covered pretzel with one slice of banana.
4. Place the dark chocolate on a microwave safe plate or bowl and put it in the microwave for 30 seconds. Check on the chocolate and stir a little bit. Then, put the chocolate back into the microwave for another 15 seconds and check on the chocolate. If necessary, microwave for 10-30 seconds more, ensuring that you don’t burn the chocolate.
5. Once the chocolate is melted, spoon a little bit on the top of each banana. Smooth it out and let the chocolate start to harden. While it’s hardening, crumble a pretzel into very small pieces and sprinkle the pretzel on top of each chocolate topping. Then, let the chocolate harden for a while, or just eat the pretzels as is. Either way, I guarantee you’ll want s’more!

So I know I usually recommend a short story or poem, but today I have a little something different to share as far as reading materials go. Yesterday I blogged about a sweet potato and apple casserole that Jane Brody included in her book Jane Brody’s Good Food Book. I’ve been reading the opening chapters of the book that details a nutritional outline of what humans need and how Brody believes these requirements are best met. She includes tons of information about foods that seem common but have been neglected because of the introduction of technology, food processing, and various diet-references to certain foods. For example, she talks about white potatoes (and how they are healthy!!), wheat and how it has been stripped of most nutritional properties, and more plant-based methods of attaining full and complete nutrition than what society relies on today. Since I’m so into the book, I figured I’d recommend it as a snacker day Saturday read. Best part about this book? You can read as little as a section per time, or as much as the whole book (which would take you a few days because it’s loooonngggg). Also great? The book has hundreds of healthy recipes at the end that follow the nutritional guidelines she suggests. Hope you have a great snacker day Saturday!