Hard to believe 2011 is officially over, isn’t it? The holiday season has come and gone, and with a new year comes New Year's resolutions. Year after year, getting in shape is one of the most popular goals; after what seems like an eternity filled with turkey, pumpkin pie, and mashed potatoes, we give up our favorite comfort foods, opting for something with -- um, fewer calories.
The problem is, many people think going on a diet means committing culinary suicide by snacking on flavorless foods like rice cakes (ew) and non-fat yogurt (double ew). Just because you’re on a diet doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice flavor!
Before you head to the market and fill your cupboard with food you won’t enjoy, take a peek at these healthy snack ideas that don’t skimp on the flavor.
Crispy Kale Leaves. This time of year, I can't stop thinking about these crispy little chips. They're great if you’re craving something crunchy and salty but don’t want the added calories of fried potato chips, and they're so easy to make.
1 bunch kale
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. paprika
Kosher salt, to taste
1. Preheat oven to 350. Wash and carefully dry the kale.
2. Remove the kale leaves from the stems. Tear kale into chip-sized pieces, and place in a large bowl.
3. Toss kale in bowl with olive oil, salt, and paprika. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.
4. Bake in oven for 7-9 minutes, or until kale turns deeper green and the leaves are crispy.
Loaded Salsa. Salsa is a delicious, healthy snack filled with great vegetables. Instead of buying salsa in a jar, trying making it at home; you'll be amazed by the difference in taste. Ditch the tortilla chips, and use cucumber slices for an even healthier option.
1 small red onion
2 medium bell peppers (I prefer 1 red, 1 green)
1 clove garlic
1/2 jalapeno pepper
1 Tbsp. cilantro, finely chopped
Juice of 1/2 lime
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Finely dice red onion, tomato, and garlic.
2. Halve the bell peppers and jalapeno lengthwise. Remove seeds, and finely dice into uniform pieces.
3. Finely chop cilantro, and add it to the diced vegetables.
4. Slice lime in half, and squeeze to juice.
5. Add salt and pepper. Mix ingredients well.
Baked Apples. You know what they say about eating apples every day. This fruit is so versatile; you can eat it raw as a quick and naturally sweet snack, or you can bake it with some spices for a healthy snack disguised as an indulgent dessert.
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Core apple, and cut in half. Sprinkle all ingredients over the cut side of the apple, and bake about 20 minutes, or until soft.
Fruit Skewers with Chocolate Dipping Sauce. Okay, this idea may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of healthy snacks, but every diet needs a little leeway, right? Not to mention, the combination of fruit and dark chocolate loads this snack with powerful antioxidants that help fight cancer and heart disease (as if you even needed an excuse to eat chocolate).
2 strawberries, halved
1/3 banana, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1/2 cup cubed pineapple
3 mint leaves
2 oz. dark chocolate
4 Tbsp. low-fat milk
1. Melt chocolate in a double boiler until smooth.
2. Whisk in milk slowly to thin the chocolate.
3. Skewer the strawberries, banana, pineapple, and mint.
4. Enjoy the fruit by itself, or dip into chocolate sauce.
Roasted Chickpeas. Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are such wonderful edible delights. While many people know them as the star ingredient in hummus, this recipe simply roasts them in the oven with a few spices to truly bring out their distinct flavor.
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp. chopped parsley
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Transfer to a baking tray lined with aluminum foil.
3. Bake about 20 minutes, or until chickpeas turn crispy.
'Culinarily Curious' is TNGG Boston's column on all things food, written by Anthony Howard.
About Anthony -- I'm a 22-year-old Massachusetts native -- grew up in the 'burbs and now spend my young adult life in the city. I am passionate about cooking and currently assistant manage a restaurant kitchen in Kendall Square. Let's just say that when I invite friends over for dinner parties, no one ever turns me down.
The author is solely responsible for the content.