Real Food Snacks (plus Recipes!)

by Brian Cormack Carr on July 29, 2013

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Hungry for some real food snacks?  Don’t worry if you are.  These can be made to work for you, even if you’re trying to follow a path towards healthy eating.  You don’t have to feel guilty.

Do bear in mind that snacking is often unnecessary when you’ve adopted a real food eating plan, since meals comprised of real foods are so satisfying. It’s not uncommon for real food devotees to stick to three meals a day – or even less if they’re doing an intermittent fast – without any effort, and without the need to reach for a snack.

On the other hand, snacking isn’t to be feared. In fact, it’s always a good idea to have an arsenal of snack ideas to hand, just in case of unexpected delays to your eating plans. The trick is – as you might guess – to make sure your snack foods are as real as your mealtime foods.

I’ve gathered together some options for you here – you may want to consider bookmarking this blog post for ease of reference, next time the urge some real food snacks strikes!

Basic Real Food Snacks

Mark Sisson describes the following as “snack staples” in his excellent cookbook Quick & Easy Meals:

  • Canned sardines and salmon (I like canned mackerel, too, and I like to wrap it in toasted nori seaweed)
  • Smoked salmon
  • Leftover cooked meat
  • Cold shrimp
  • Olives
  • Full-fat Greek yogurt (if you tolerate dairy)
  • Fresh berries (you can add cream if you tolerate dairy)
  • Fresh veggies dipped in salsa or guacamole
  • Nuts and nut butters
  • Jerky
  • Pork rinds
  • Avocados

Others that I personally favour include:

  • Hard-boiled eggs or leftover wedges of omelette
  • A few swigs of coconut milk (sometimes accompanied by a spoonful of coconut oil).
  • An occasional slice of raw cheese (again, if you tolerate dairy).
  • A few squares of very dark (at least 70%) chocolate (as far as I’m concerned, life without regular helpings of good-quality dark chocolate is just too bleak to contemplate).

Snacking On Meals

Robb Wolf of Paleo Solution fame has some advice on snacking: namely – avoid it unless necessary, and when you do it, eat the same kinds of foods you eat at mealtimes.  If you make a meal and can’t finish it, consider saving some of it for later.  That way you’ll always have good quality real food snacks to hand.

Quick Recipes for Real Food Snacks

Here are some terrific real food snack recipes gathered from my own repertoire. Enjoy!

Trail Mix

Great to have on hand for when you need access to quick and handy real food snacks.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 1 cup pumpkin seeds
  • ½ cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • ½ cup raisins

Method:

  1. Combine all ingredients in an airtight container and store in a cool, dry place (it really can’t get any easier!)

If you find nuts upset your digestion, consider soaking them in salted water overnight then drying them till crispy in a low oven the following morning.  This will reduce the level of antinutrients in the nuts, rendering them more digestible.  Then proceed with the recipe.

Quick Broccoli and Pine Nut Soup

Full of great nutrition – the cruciferous broccoli helps protect against cancer, and the pine nuts provide a useful package of protein, fat and fibrre – and great flavour.

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1tbs coconut oil
  • 3 cups broccoli
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • ¼ cup pine-nuts (pre-soaked and oven-dried if desired – see above)

Method:

  1. Fry onion in a large pan with oil on medium heat until slightly browned.
  2. Add broccoli and stock and simmer for 12 mins or so or until broccoli has softened. Cool slightly.
  3. Place in a food processor or use an electric blender to form a smooth texture.
  4. Serve in warm bowls with a swirl of creme fraiche (if you tolerate dairy) and some whole broccoli florets.

Easy Guacamole

Couldn’t be simpler, and packed with heart-healthy fats in the avocado (they’re good for the brain, too).

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium avocados
  • 1 firm tomato, finely diced
  • 1/2 white onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped coriander (or a mixture of coriander and parsley)
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon or lime juice
  • Optional salt and pepper to taste
  • Finely diced chilli if desired

Method:

  1. Open the avocados and scoop out the flesh.
  2. Mash the flesh with a fork.
  3. Stir the other ingredients.
  4. Enjoy right away or store in the refrigerator with a fine layer of olive oil on the surface of the guacamole (this prevents oxidization and browning)

Devilled Eggs

A classic, quick-to-prepare thanksgiving appetizer.

Ingredients:

  • Boiled eggs (one or two per person)
  • Mayonnaise
  • Dijon mustard
  • Cumin
  • Bacon
  • Paprika and fresh herbs for granish
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Cook the bacon slices in a pan over a medium heat until crispy. When the bacon is ready, let cool and crumble into small pieces.
  2. Peel boiled eggs and cut in half lengthways.
  3. Scoop out the yolks and mash them in a bowl with the mayonnaise, mustard, bacon bits, cumin and salt and pepper to taste.
  4. With a spoon, fill in the cavity of the egg white halves with the yolk, mayonnaise and bacon filling.
  5. Garnish with some paprika and fresh herbs.

Chocolate-covered Bacon

No-one can resist this.  I’m telling you, it’s a winner.  Your non-real-food-eating friends will think you’re indulging in something sinful.  You don’t have to tell them about the fantastic combination of good-quality protein, fats and antioxidants that are packed into every bite.

Ingredients:

  • Several rashers thickly sliced bacon;
  • Good quality dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids, preferably more)
  • Butter

Method:

  1. Fry the bacon in a medium pan until crisp. Fry in batches if necessary.
  2. Remove rashers from the pan and dry with a paper towel.
  3. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water.  Add a knob of butter and let it melt before stirring in.
  4. Dip the bacon slices in the chocolate (you can completely submerge the bacon, but it looks nicer if it’s dipped in lengthways so the chocolate covers half the surface of the bacon)
  5. Place the chocolate dipped bacon on a cooling rack covered in parchment paper.
  6. Let cool for a bout 2 hours, until the chocolate has hardened.  Serve immediately or store in a container in the refrigerator.

With real food snacks like these to hand, do you think I feel deprived?  Not likely!

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Healthy Halloween Food Treats

by Brian Cormack Carr on October 28, 2012

Someone’s hungry…

Wondering how to share some healthy Halloween food treats with the kids, whilst sticking to a nourishing real food eating plan?  Look no further…

It’s that time of year again.  If you live north of the equator, the days are getting shorter, the temperature is dropping, the leaves are turning, and the veil between this world and the next is growing thin…..

OK, perhaps I’m getting carried away, but the point is: it’s nearly Halloween, and I love it. Always have.  I’m still a sucker for witches’ hats and ghostly tales, just like most other big kids.

That’s the fun part – the sad part is that our supermarkets are now stocked with piles of fake, additive-filled chocolate bars and sweets, all cunningly placed to ensure as many of them as possible find their way into the mouths of our little ones. In amongst the scary masks and spooky costumes, there are enticing signs prompting kids to get their share of ”spooky sweets”.  Parents are lured with promises of “Two for One″ and “Buy One Get One Free”.

The Inconvenience of “Convenient” Halloween Candy

Convenient? It looks that way to the unenlightened, but how convenient are the eventual (and sometimes immediate) results of eating such non-foods?  Blood-sugar chaos, weight gain, tooth decay, systemic inflammation, and eventual degenerative disease caused by gorging on the no-nutrition “treats” being foisted on us wherever we turn.  I’m not against sweet things.  Really.  But just take a look on the ingredient lists of some of these sweets – they have ingredient lists that are a hell of a lot scarier than any horror movie you’ve ever seen.

Here’s what’s really convenient: fun, real Halloween food treats that can be used to celebrate Halloween with both the bounty of the season and the fun of taking part in an important traditional festival that’s tailor-made for kids looking for a thrill.

To help you prepare for the onslaught, I’ve pulled together some links to great ideas and recipes for healthy Halloween food treats. Enjoy – and don’t forget to check under the bed on the evening of October 31st

Pumpkin – For Perfect Healthy Halloween Food Treats

It’s not Halloween without pumpkins, and pumpkins are real food.  With their warm autumnal colour and sweet mouth-filling taste, they’re the perfect vegetable, and the perfect base for several healthy Halloween food treats.  They’re also incredibly nutritious: packed with vitamin A, flavonoids, and antioxidants such as leutin and xanthin, as well as carotenes in abundance.  http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/pumpkin.html

More importantly, kids love them because they can be carved into eerily grinning Jack O’Lanterns.  Be sure to save the pumpkin flesh that’s scooped out during this process – it’s the perfect base of some truly delicious and healthy Halloween food treats.

Here are some pumpkin-themed recipes for you and your family to enjoy:

  • If you’re looking for a sweet treat to share with the guisers (that’s what we Scots call the trick-or-treaters), then be sure to try out these Paleo Pumpkin Biscuits from KnitFit, or perhaps the Healthy Cooking Coach’s Paleo Pumpkin Cake Bars With Cinnamon Icing.
  • Not in the mood for something sweet? Then try this great recipe for Savoury Pumpkin Torte with Kale from  Paleo Digest, or Pelvic Health Plus’ tasty Pumpkin Chilli. Both are perfect for sharing around a roaring fire whilst listening to ghost stories…
  • Never throw away the seeds after you’ve carved your Jack O’Lanterns! You can use them to make these delicious Chili-Roasted Pumpkin Seeds, courtesy of Elana’s Pantry.
  • Looking for a substantial child-pleasing dessert to add to your repertoire of healthy Halloween food treats?  Primal Britain are offering a mouth-watering recipe for Paleo Pumpkin Pie.
  • It would be hard to beat this collection of highly original pumpkin recipes from Paleo Diet Lifestyle. Fancy some Pumpkin Soup? Or Pumpkin Salad? Or even the dramatic-sounding Chicken In A Pumpkin? And be sure to check out their inspired recipes for Chocolate-covered Bacon, Bloody Beet Soup, and Bacon-wrapped Sausages, which double up as “Mummy’s Fingers”….

Real Food Halloween Candy

You can forego additive-laden cakes when you opt for real Halloween food treats…

Of course, it doesn’t have to all be about pumpkin.  These are genius – Halloween sweets, made without the chemical nasties that make shop-bought sweets so undesirable. Try these Chocolate Halloween Halvah Balls from Apron Strings, and Maple-Sunbutter Candy from Whole Life Nutrition.

And if you want a feast for the eyes as well as the tummy, then you must take a look at this stunning collection of Healthy Halloween Candy from Chocolate-Covered Katie.  Obviously, these aren’t for everyday consumption – they’re not sugar-free after all – but as far as sweets go, at least they’re of the highest quality.

Keeping The Vampires At Bay…

Here’s something fun – why not head into Halloween armed with some Vampire-Fighting Pork Stew from Hilah Cooking?

Happy Halloween to you and yours!

I’ve already mentioned that Halloween holds a special place in my heart. Perhaps it’s because it coincides with Samhain – the Celtic New Year. Does a Scotsman need any more of an excuse for dressing up and making merry? I don’t think so!  Samhain/Halloween is also a great time to contemplate what’s been and what awaits us, and to set some positive intentions for the future…before the full whirlwind of the Christmas and New Year holidays hit. Check out my Vital Vocation blog for ideas on how you can have a Happy (Celtic) New Year.

Images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Wikipedia.org

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