Sweet and Salty Snack Mix

Sweet and Salty Snack Mix
Have you ever had a snack attack? A true snack attack where your stomach rumbles and grumbles but it’s only three in the afternoon and there’s still hours to go till dinner? Yeah, I think we’ve all been there. Last summer (oh summer you were so long ago) I worked with my good friend Penny who has a gardening business. We started the day really early and did all sorts of crazy physically exhausting things like digging holes for trees taller than us and shoveling yards of heavy soil in and out of her truck. Usually by ten in the morning I was starving. I tried all sorts of snacks to tide me over until lunch- yogurt, nuts, yogurt with nuts, crackers with peanut butter, fruit, granola bars…and the occasional bag of chips. Except for that last one these were all pretty healthy snacks that should have gotten me through the morning. The problem is that I was always left wanting something a little more. The yogurt didn’t have crunch, the nuts didn’t have sweet, the fruit didn’t have salt. In other words, I expect a lot from my snacks. I want a little salt, a little sweet and a lot of crunch. The solution? A snack mix! And I’m not talking about the “cheese” flavored kind that you get at the convenience store.Sweet and Salty Snack Mix
This homemade snack mix is healthy and it satisfies all of my snack cravings at once. There are endless possibilities for snack mixes, but after lots of trial and error I found that this particular combination offered the perfect balance of sweet and salty. A 1/2 cup serving fits nicely in one of my glass to-go containers and seems to be just the right amount to quell any size snack attack.

Here are the sweet ingredients: Dried Cranberries (sweetened or unsweetened, your choice), Dark Chocolate Chips, and Honey Oat Cereal (I use Kashi Honey Toasted Oat because it’s lower in sugar that most brands but still has a mildly sweet honey flavor).
The salty ingredients: Pretzels (any shape you like, but small is better), Roasted Almonds, Roasted Peanuts. I like to use salted peanuts and unsalted almonds because I find that two kinds of salted nuts combined with the salty pretzels is a bit saltier that I like, but it’s your choice. You can go with one kind of salted nut, two kinds of salted nuts, or two kinds of nuts with no salt (whew…that sentence made me a little nuts).
The best part of this snack mix? How easy it is to make. Gather you ingredients, dump them in a bowl, mix it up and you’re done.
At home we like to eat the snack mix out of these colorful vintage Pyrex containers. Sweet and Salty Snack Mix
And for on-the-go glass containers with lids do the job.Sweet and Salty Snack Mix
Happy Snacking!

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Carrot Muffins with Meyer Lemon Glaze

Carrot Muffin

Sometimes I’m late to the party. No, not fashionably late. You know, the kind of late where you show up two hours after the party begins just so you can make a grand entrance. That’s not me. First off I’m not at all fashionable, and second I find the idea of making a grand entrance kind of terrifying. I’m also not the party started 30 minutes ago and I’m still in the shower kind of late. In fact, I’m a bit of stickler for timeliness and become riddled with anxiety anytime I’m running behind. I’m still late for the party though. I’m late for the party because I just discovered my love for kale this winter. Because I waited so long to make a recipe using blood oranges that now they’re out of season, and because this week I used Meyer lemons for the first time EVER. Yup that’s right, the party I’m late for is the food trend party and I’m pretty sure the party van just left without me. Meyer lemon I’ve been seeing these sunny yellow lemons all over the Internet for the past month. Meyer lemon cake, Meyer lemon donuts, Meyer lemon ice cream, Meyer lemon martinis…I could go on and on. I began to wonder what was so special about these smooth skinned, egg yolk colored lemons. According to a fascinating story on NPRMeyer lemons have a sweeter, less acidic flavor then regular lemons (which makes them perfect for desserts but not so perfect for when you want acidity like in sauces and soups). They also are known for their soft, thin skin and high volume of juice. The season for Meyer lemons begins in November and extends into March. Since their thin skin makes them difficult to ship they can be hard to find if you live far from areas where they are grown. Here in northern New England we’re about as far away from a citrus growing climate as you can get. Luckily though, my local grocery store pretty much rocks when it comes to stocking hard to find items and earlier this week I spotted these beauties in the citrus section. It was sign for sure. I was like my personal invitation to attend the exclusive food trend party. This time I would not be late.Carrot MuffinThe only thing left to decide- what to make for this fabulous party. I wanted something that would compliment the sweetness of the lemon without over whelming it. I also wanted something healthy that I wouldn’t feel bad about eating after the pig out I had on Valentine’s Day treats. So I chose…carrots. I warned you I wasn’t very fashionable. While everyone else is making the equivalent of an evening gown with their Meyer Lemons I went with my old reliable overalls. But they’re soo comfy. Seriously though- carrot muffins made with wheat germ and brown rice syrup may not sound very sexy, but when you bite down into that moist muffin studded with bits of carrots and dripping with sweet lemon syrup you will thank me for choosing comfort over style.   I incorporated Meyer lemon in this muffin two ways. First I added some of the fragrant zest to the muffin batter. Second, I made a simple glaze to drizzle over the top of the muffins. It includes just two ingredients- lemon juice and honey. This is a fairly thin glaze that you pour over the still warm muffins. The glaze soaks down into the muffin and gives it an extra kick of lemony sweetness.
Looks like I made it to the party just in time. Carrot Muffins

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Ginger-Lime Kale over Quinoa

If you’re anything like me it took you awhile to jump aboard the kale train. Normally I’m a sucker for anything green, and vegetables are no exception, but kale and I did not have a good start. The first time I ate kale was in a raw salad and it was so bitter that I had to discreetly hide a mouthful in my napkin under the table (don’t laugh- you’ve all been there). After that I was afraid to try it again and for years either substituted other veggies like spinach and broccoli for kale or avoided dishes that called for it all together. After that first experience I was determined kale would not pass though my lips again. Here’s the thing about kale though… it’s really good for you. I mean really good for you. It’s full of antioxidants, vitamins like A and C, has incredible anti-inflammatory properties, is known for lowering cholesterol, fighting cancer and one measly serving contains over 20% of your daily fiber needs. Wow! And all I have to do to reap those nutritional benefits is to choke down some of that tough bitter leafy green stuff. But wait…stop those negative thoughts. I am proud to say that this winter I put my fears aside and bravely tried kale again. Guess what? It was really good. In fact it was more than good, it was clean my plate and go for seconds good.


Turns out that cooked kale is not bitter or tough at all, just the opposite. So what happened, how did I go from kale hater to kale lover in just one dish? Let me set the scene for you. Let’s call it… The Great Kale Revival. About a month ago I ventured out to the grocery store list in hand. On that list were ingredients to make Linguine with Swiss Chard and Sausage. Much to my dismay the Swiss Chard at the store was a bit tired looking- actually really tired looking, so limp that when I picked it up the leaves drooped over like a cooked noodle- yuck. I hemmed and hawed for a bit considering  what I could use for a substitution. Just then a bunch of vibrant green leaves with curly edges caught my eye. I’m talking, of course, about kale. Could I do it? Would I do it? Before I could talk myself out if it the kale was in my cart, in my grocery bag, and in my fridge. That night I made the dish using kale instead of Swiss Chard. It was delicious. After only a few minutes of cooking the kale had yielded its bitterness and turned into a slightly sweet, slightly crunchy, absolutely wonderful green vegetable. TAW55718
Since then I’ve become borderline obsessed with kale. Just this week alone we’ve eaten it in scrambled eggs, pasta sauce and meatloaf. Yesterday afternoon my husband was unpacking the groceries that I brought home and said, “oh look, more kale” as he pulled out a new bunch and added it to the other two already in the fridge. We now have one entire drawer that is filled with nothing else but kale. What can I say- I’ve been converted, this is good stuff. I want to share my new found love of kale with you. Even those of you who, like I once did, think you don’t like kale. I am here tell you tell you, to implore you, to give it one more shot. And what better way to enjoy kale than with one of my favorite flavor combinations ever- ginger, garlic and lime.TAW55635
I’m convinced that you could add these three things to an old shoe and it would taste good. Seriously. There is something about this combo that I’m totally in love with. And since I’m also in love with kale right now…why not combine them? The idea for this recipe came from a wonderful magazine and website called Clean Eating. They follow a pretty simple philosophy over at Clean Eating: consume whole foods and prepare them close to their natural state. Sounds easy right? The dish that I created didn’t end up resembling the original inspiration dish very much (you can find it here if you’re interested) but I used the flavor combo as a jumping off point, and I definitely stayed true to the clean eating philosophy. So whether you’re on the fence about kale, a self-proclaimed kale lover,or like I used to be and convinced that kale is a no good,dirty rotten scoundrel – this dish is for you. TAW55745

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