Quick-but-healthy popcorn

Hey guys! I’ve been busy lately so I haven’t been able to keep track of all the recipes I’ve been using this week, so I apologize for that! I promise I’ll get my butt back on here ASAP. By the way, check me out on instagram! (Thumbnail on the right-hand sidebar, or @G1_N4)

In the meantime, I wanted to share the perfect quick snack (that’s healthy) that is one of my fallbacks when I don’t have much time. It’s microwave popcorn! I know, some people still think that microwave popcorn is unhealthy, but that’s only if you’re still buying it in the bag. Recent food trends have uncovered a way to make your own preservative-free popcorn – no air popper necessary.
Popcorn is loaded with fiber (it’s the only grain that we eat entirely; no removing husks or anything) and is a great unrefined carb. 1 cup popped = 30 calories. This recipe makes about 3 cups.

IMG_0101Microwave Popcorn

 

  • 2 tablespoons popcorn
  • pinch salt
  • oil, coconut oil, butter of choice

Just put the kernels in a brown paper lunch bag, drizzle some olive oil, coconut oil, or butter, sprinkle on some salt and seasoning, fold the bag over, and microwave for 2-3 minutes, depending on your microwave’s strength. Stop when the popcorn pops greater than every 2 seconds.

Some of my favorite variations:

  • shake on some Furikake (Japanese rice flakes after popping)

  • sweet cinnamon sugar (1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tablespoon white sugar before popping)
  • kettle corn style, salty & sweet (1-2 tablespoons white sugar before popping)
  • chocolatey goodness (add 1 teaspoon cocoa powder before popping)
  • spicy snacking (pinch cayenne or replace salt with chili powder before popping)

Get creative, enjoy!

Pumpkin Bars

ImageThese bars are definitely not a dessert (unless you cover them in ice cream, maybe), but they have a subtle sweetness that can satisfy a mid-afternoon or mid-morning sweet tooth.

The addition of spices and fresh cubed pumpkin also help to moisten the baked good, and the whole wheat flour gives them a hearty texture.

Pumpkin Bars 

Inspired by Chocolate Covered Katie

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (can sub white flour)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp each: nutmeg, cloves, allspice (can sub pumpkin pie spice)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup pumpkin, canned
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp milk (can use soymilk, 1%, almond, etc.)
  • 1 cup cooked, cubed pumpkin (optional, can also use cranberries or sliced apples)

Preheat the oven 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a bowl, mix the dry ingredients with a fork. Add the pumpkin, egg, brown sugar, vanilla, and milk to the dry ingredients. Whisk to combine, until into a smooth, thick batter (think waffle-batter consistency).

Spray a 8×10 glass baking dish with nonstick spray, or rub with butter. Pour the batter into the dish, and smooth until even with the back of a spoon or spatula. Top with cubed pumpkin or cranberries, press down gently with the spatula.

Bake for 30 minutes, depending on the size of the dish.

Wait about 15 minutes before slicing. Enjoy! Image

Sweet potaters

Sweet potatoes? Yams? So much confusion! I feel like no grocery store will ever have a straight answer to the “is it sweet potato vs is it yam” debate. It turns out sweet potatoes are indeed what you are buying as a yam. That is, unless you think sweet potatoes are starchy tuberous things. Yeah, didn’t think so.

So what do I mean? According to About.com, sweet potatoes are yellow, orange, red, or even purple skinned and fleshed. They are sort of potato shaped, and taste sweet. Yellow ones are creamier, orange ones are softer, purple ones are very sweet – you get the idea, they all very. The important thing, though, is that they look like this: 

(via farm fresh produce)

On the other hand, yams are starchy and tuberous. They’re not really popular in the USA, but rather in the carribean, africa, and central america. Here’s a yam, for drastic comparison:

Yeah, never seen that before.

So,  now that we’ve got that clear, onto a quick and easy method to cook SWEET POTATOES without worrying! This is an extremely simple method that leaves the sweet potatoes by themselves, so you can enjoy their creaminess in nature form! No sugar, no salt, no pepper, nope. Just delicious sweet potatoes. All you need is your oven or grill on above 300 degrees, some foil, and sweet potatoes, of course.

Here’s the process in pictures, first.

washed & clean wrapped up! looks a bit like a flying saucer, haha on the grill under some zucchini fully roasted! look at the wrinkly, caramelized skin and creamy, sweet interior. Yum! The perfect workout snack/breakfast/side dish/dessert/whatever!

Simple Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Ingredients:

Sweet Potatoes (any kind you want, keep in mind this will determine the cooking time)

 

Directions:

1. Wash the sweet potatoes really good, because you’re going to leave the skin on. YES, you can eat the skin, it’s very nutritious, full of fiber and vitamin A! I love the skin, actually, it’s fun to peel off and eat 🙂 You don’t need to cut them either, unless you want them to cook faster.

2. Wrap the sweet potatoes tightly in Aluminum foil. No tears or gaps!

3. Place the sweet potatoes in the oven/on your grill. You can throw these in any time you have the oven on, regardless of what else is in there!

4. Check the potatoes every 20 minutes for done-ness. If they are soft enough to be pierced easily with a fork, they’re typically done! I like to leave mine in a bit extra so they get caramelized on one side on the skin 🙂

5. Take the packet out of the grill/oven, careful to avoid steam burns.

6. Cut it open and fill it with chili, coconut flakes, peanuts, peanut butter, I don’t know, people have weird sweet potato pairings. Or, just enjoy it plain! Bon Appetit!

 

 

Get your whole grain on!

I have definitely been neglecting my carb intake lately. I tend to fall into the habit of avoiding carbs, since I’m a bit of a carbophobe (haha), but when I feel fuzzy headed and fatigued I know I need to up my carbohydrate intake (see here and here for more about eating low carb).

Typically, snacks I turn to when I feel the “low carb-flu” coming on are whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal (mentioned in my previous post), or popcorn! These carbohydrates contain more fiber than stripped white flours, pasta, and breads, and also have a lower glycemic load (they don’t spike your blood sugar and cause you to feel sleepy or “crash” afterwards).

Yesterday I decided to fall back on one of my favorites, popcorn! Popcorn is the only whole grain that we eat in its 100% whole form, and contains polyphenols. It’s a great quick snack, that is, if you don’t use the pre-packaged microwave variety.

I make my own bagged popcorn at home so I know exactly what goes in it, and it’s much healthier! The best way to have popcorn, in my opinion, is sweet and salty, coated in caramelized sugar, like the kind you get fresh from the farmer’s market. Here’s my recipe for mock- kettle corn in the microwave:

Kettle corn in a Brown bag! 

image
What to do:

  1. Grab a brown paper bag. Fill it with about 2 T popcorn kernels (any kind will do), 1 T sugar, and a pinch or so of salt.
  2. Spray the inside of the bag with some oil spray.
  3. Fold the bag over at the top 2 or 3 times and shake it up.
  4. Put it in the microwave for between 2:00-3:00 minutes. Play around with timing – I still haven’t perfected it. You should take your popcorn out when popping is about 1  per second.

Snack time! Get your grain on!