Has the pandemic helped you pack on a few pounds? If so, you’re not alone. According to Nabisco, cookie sales have gone up 30% in the past few months. Our kitchens have turned into giant vending machines, dispensing treats as we tend to graze through the day, often eating out of boredom.
“In-home, there is more grazing, more continuous eating, and snacking takes up a much bigger role,” says Dirk Van de Put, the chief executive of Mondelëz International (formerly Kraft Foods).
Not only that, even though we’re cooking at home instead of wholesome foods we’re re-creating our favorite fast food treats. That combined with lack of, or restricted, access to gyms and workout classes is a recipe for weight gain. There’s a real danger that when this pandemic is over, we still won’t be able to leave the house because we won’t be able to fit through the door.
All right, so I’m exaggerating there, but it still wouldn’t hurt to have some healthy snacks around. Some things are easy; it doesn’t take a degree in nutrition to know that an apple is better for you than Flaming Hot Cheetos. So, keep some fresh fruit on hand the next time you get a sweet craving. I’m particularly fond of watermelon, pineapple and plums. You can still have potato chips and cookies occasionally, just not on a daily basis. Grapes are great for the feeling of filling (and emptying) a bowl of goodies, and they’re healthier than M&Ms.
Try some of these recipes the next time you have a craving. Most of them don’t take much time at all to prepare, but that doesn’t really matter, we’ve all got plenty of time now.
These are great when you’ve got a craving for something salty and crunchy.
1 (15-oz.) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
½ tsp. Cayenne (optional)
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
Blot rinsed and drained chickpeas on a paper towel to absorb any residual moisture.
Spread chickpeas on a baking sheet in an even layer.
Place chickpeas in a pre-heated 350º oven until completely dry, 10-12 minutes.
Remove chickpeas from oven and toss with oil and seasonings.
Return to oven, and bake until golden brown and crispy, about 35 minutes, stirring halfway through.
Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet.
Serve with cucumber slices, carrot sticks, red pepper slices and any other veggie you like.
1 lb. feta
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 oz. (8-oz.) block light cream cheese, softened
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup chopped cucumber
In a large bowl using a hand mixer, beat feta cheese, Greek yogurt, cream cheese, oil, and lemon juice and zest until fluffy and combined.
Season with salt and red pepper flakes to taste.
Stir in chopped cucumber.
Transfer dip to a serving bowl, drizzle with a little extra olive oil.
Bet you can’t eat just one!
1 large daikon radish (may substitute 1 dozen large red radishes)
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
½ tsp. garlic powder
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 225°.
Using a mandolin, thinly slice radish and place in a large bowl.
Add vegetable oil and garlic powder and season with salt and pepper, toss to coat.
Spread in an even layer on large baking sheets. Be sure none of the radishes are overlapping.
Bake until chips are crisp and slightly golden, (about 1-1 ¼ hours).
Let cool five minutes before serving.
Can also be cooked in small batches in an air-fryer set at 350°. Cook for six-seven minutes, shaking the basket halfway through, until chips are golden and crispy.
Pistachio Oat Squares
It’s like granola and a cookie all in one!
1 cup raw shelled pistachios
1 cup rolled oats
½ teaspoon of sea salt
¼ cup honey, more for drizzling on top
2 tablespoons olive oil
⅓ cup unsweetened coconut flakes (optional)
melted dark chocolate (optional)
an additional handful of chopped pistachios for the topping
Preheat the oven to 350º and line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper.
In a food processor with the metal blade attached, process the pistachios, oats, and salt for about 30 seconds, until a meal starts to form.
Drizzle in the honey and olive oil while the motor is still running, and the meal begins to come together into a crumbly, almost-wet dough.
Press the dough evenly into the pan (top with coconut if desired) and bake for 10-12 minutes.
You want the squares to still be a little soft — don't overbake them.
Carefully lift the cooled dough out of the pan by holding two sides of the parchment paper.
Cut it into squares. Drizzle a little honey over the top for extra sweetness, if you like.
Drizzle with melted dark chocolate and extra pistachios.
Can be stored in a sealed container for up to a week.