I could walk right past buckets of candies and sweets if there were the teensiest pile of potato chips at the end of the line. Yessiree, the salty crunchy thing is what gets me. Between my dairy allergy and having been forced by a cracked tooth to swear off my beloved popcorn, I was adrift. And I was drifting in the wrong direction. If you make it right and don't eat it by the boatload, or covered in butter, popcorn actually qualifies as a whole grain. I'd call it a healthy snack.
But you know, once you see the cost of a cracked tooth, "cheating" on your dentist and ignoring her advice loses a lot of its appeal. So I started on potato chips. Saturated fat and salt and oh, so, delicious. Hep me jeezus, it was a slippery slope. I had to do an intervention when an ENTIRE bag of (not single serve) of Chili-flavored Kettle chips evaporated in my hands.
I have seen the devil and he looks like a never-ending bag of chips.
Back from the Precipice
So it is with much fanfare that I bring you my new favorite snack discovery. [cue heralds and horns, waving of banners, and such] Salvation looks like a crappy processed snack food, but it's not!
Nacho Daddy's Cheezits
What's a good snack without a pun? A lost opportunity, I say.
So I named these guys the punny name to indicate their dairy-free status. Get it? "Nacho" Not Yo"....okay. Now that I've gotten that out of my system...here's the ÜBER-simple, fast and delicious snack. But first, let's review these additional benefits:
- they're salty
- they're crunchy
- they're spicy (or you can make them not so)
- they're dairy-free (you could probably use cheddar if you're not true vegan or allergic)
- they're cheesy
- I've included whole grains (grainiacs rejoice!)
- and they're easy-peasy to make at home
You know you want some, come on.
Nacho Daddy's Cheezits
Modified from a couple vegan blogs, but don't let that dissuade you.
- 1/4 C Earth Balance butter (cold)
- 3/4 C Daiya cheddar shreds
- 1/4 C organic spelt flour
- 1/2 C organic whole wheat pastry flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp cayenne
- 1/2 tsp paprika or pimenton
- +1 TBSP cold water
- Maldon sea salt flakes for topping, or good sea salt
- Place all ingredients but water in food processor; pulse, until you get large crumbles.
- Add water by teaspoon till dough comes together in a ball, usually you'll use about 1 TBSP. Depends on moisture in the air and your flour.
- Knead for a few minutes, let rest half an hour in fridge. (I have also skipped the rest, with little noticeable result. The dough comes together so quickly, I don't think there's a lot of gluten developed.
- Preheat 350 degrees.
- Roll out half of dough between waxed paper or on silpat silicone sheet. Leave other half in fridge to stay cool.
- Dust with flour to prevent sticking - see tea ball trick.
- Roll to 1/8" thick cut with fun smallish cutter (I have a little star cutter that was part of a set.) Or, use pizza cutter to make into squares or diamonds.
- Bake 10-15 mins checking often -- remove at the perfect crisp but not burnt stage.
Remember the teaball trick, works for flour and for confectioner's sugar.
Offset spatula may be helpful to transfer to cookie sheets but it's not necessary.
These are so good to nibble and munch. I think they'd be terrific floating on a mug of hot tomato soup. Mixed into my Remixed Chex Mix they could take the place of the Goldfish crackers. Great with a cocktail.
Next batch, I'm going try flax or my pimped up flaxy gomashio. Stay tuned salty-crunchy fanatics!
Don't you love a grain with with a good back story?
Kamut - King Tut's Wheat
Diving into the DIY granola craze, I've discovered a new grain with a great history. Okay, so I've made granola at home three or four times and inspired a few Twitter followers to make their own with this Homemade Granola the DIY Delicious Way with a Touch of Chocolate. In my book, we now officially have a "craze."
I noted that the fabulous DIY Delicious: Recipes and Ideas for Simple Food from Scratch author, Vanessa Barrington was marvelously "flattered" by the New York Times who ran a DIY Cooking Handbook piece w/nary a mention of the woman who, literally, wrote the book. They should know better. So maybe they were inspired, too. See? It really is a trend!
So what the heck is Kamut? I have to admit, when I saw this at Whole Foods:
I had to buy it! Roasted, good. Cooks in three minutes, good. Eden Organic. Good!
I enjoyed my first bowl as an oatmeal stand-in. Made simply and mixed with some leftover bulgur, and a drizzle of this insanely good maple syrup aged in Bourbon barrels.
Wheat on Wheat - proving that have no issues with gluten.
Yes, I said Bourbon barrel-matured maple syrup. A real treat, if ever there was one. Honestly, I could eat King Tut's dessicated foot with that maple syrup and be happy.
Back to our mysterious ancient grain...
The legend is that someone brought back some grains appropriate from some Egyptian tomb and grew it out back here in the states. Originally named "King Tut's Wheat" it is now registered to the enterprising farmers who nurtured it back to a crop we can now all enjoy. Several things make Kamut a great grain for your table.
First, it was most definitely enjoyed by ancient Egyptians, and who wouldn't want to dine like Cleopatra and Tutankhamun? What this really means for us is that this is a wheat that was not bred for modern agriculture, making it nutritionally superior and able to be grown without artificial fertilizers and pesticides. A sustainable super grain! Modern wheat varieties were bred for higher output, resistance to pests, etc. but had to sacrifice nutrition along the way. (See what Nature does? Mess with her and you get something inferior that causes digestive problems and necessitates more and more chemicals, depletion of the soil...well you get the picture.)
Interestingly, there is some evidence that this is better tolerated by those with gluten sensitivity, too. Kamut has 20–40% more protein, is higher in lipids, amino acids, vitamins and minerals than our modern varieties.
Another great grain with a good story is Quinoa. Unfortunately, it seems that we Norte Americanos have grown so fond of this nutritional powerhouse, that indigenous peoples can no longer afford it. The grain (it's actually a seed, but that doesn't sound as nice) that sustained them against all odds, including marauding Spaniards, is now too dear for the locals to buy. I'm hoping we have a nice fair trade operation step up to the plate and fix this unfair situation. I really would like us to enjoy quinoa with out guilt.
One thing I've learned via my support of the Joslin Diabetes Center's Spoonful of Ginger event, is that a bowl of white rice has as much sugar as a can of soda. Asian-Americans are at a much higher risk of diabetes, it seems that our physiology cannot tolerate the influence of the American diet as well as Caucasians can (and let's face it, the standard fare of most Americans could use a little help no matter who the consumer is.)
Since we are definitely kids who grew up loving our bowl of white rice, we have a hard time imagining living without it. As you know I'm a big fan of small steps. Rather than banish our beloved Ba Fan or Gohan - I'm trying to add other grains to the rotation so that we enjoy a broader, healthier variety. A recent experiment cooking white rice mixed with quinoa in the rice cooker, was a hit.
Look at this beautiful bowl:
This even worked well in fried rice the next day.
This is really easy and delicious. By adding 1/3 C of rinsed quinoa to the rice, you add protein and replace sugars. It's not perfect but you know what? It's a step in the right direction.
If ancient Egyptians joined the DIY craze...
Granola fit for a Pharoah
- 1 1/2 C Kamut flakes
- 1 1/2 C Oats
- 1 C flaked coconut
- 1/4 C crushed cocoa nibs
- scant 1/2 C pepitas
- 1/4 C sunflower seeds
- 1/4 C pistachios
- 1/2 C chopped peanuts
- 1 C chopped dates, dried cherries
- 1/4 C wheat germ and ground flax
- 1 tsp Arvinda's Chai spice
- 1/2 tsp Neilsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon vanilla
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- scant 1/3 C hexane-free expeller-pressed canola oil
- 1/3 c honey
Everything but the honey and dried fruits gets mixed up and spread out over two cookie sheets. Bake at about 330 for about 10 minutes and toss to ensure it toasts evenly. Bake another 7-10 minutes and remove from the oven. Toss with dried fruit and warmed honey. Cool and resist picking out the toasty coconut flakes.
Here's a tip: make any hot breakfast grains sing by dropping a couple drops of really good vanilla in the bowl first. When the hot grains hit the vanilla it's magic.