healthy snacks

Aug 012016
 

Seasonal Snacks: August - Watermelon

 

Watermelon is the quintessential summertime fruit snack. True to its name, watermelons are more than 90% water so are extremely refreshing and hydrating. However, despite their high water content, watermelons are powerhouses of nutrition as well.

 

  • Lycopene – Lycopene is one of the most potent anti-inflammatory antioxidants, usually found in pink and red fruits and vegetables. It helps keep a variety of diseases at bay by clearing your body of harmful free radicals and has been shown to protect your skin against harmful UV rays. While tomatoes are especially well-known for their lycopene content, watermelons have an even higher concentration of lycopene than tomatoes.
  • Vitamin A – Vitamin A is good for maintaining the health of your eyes, skin and bones.
  • Vitamin C – Vitamin C is an antioxidant which helps support your immune system, maintains skin elasticity, and helps your body heal and repair itself. It is also believed to increase your blood flow by helping your blood vessels to relax.
  • Vitamin B6 – Vitamin B6 is important for converting food into energy and maintain good metabolism.

 

There are more than 1200 varieties of watermelon, ranging from dark red to pale yellow. When choosing a watermelon, try to find one which feels heavy for its size, with a smooth rind (skin), and a hollow bass sound when you knock on it. You may be surprised to know that every part of the watermelon is edible, including its seeds and rind (nb: if you eat the rind, try and make sure it is organic).

 

 

* The produce above is in season in August in the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere, August seasonal produce includes pineapples, blood oranges, and artichokes.

 

 

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Jul 012016
 

SS: July - Cherries and Peaches

 

 

Summertime is prime stone-fruit time and my two favourites are cherries and peaches.

 

Cherries: When I was a little girl, I remember eating cherries straight out of a colander, freshly rinsed. I was taught that the darker cherries were sweeter and I would spend time examining the pile looking for the darkest cherries, with extra joy when I found twin-cherries joined by the stem. However, there are many varieties of sweet cherries which  come in a variety of colours from deep burgundy to bright red to yellow. When buying cherries, look for glossy firm skin and green stems. Cherries stay freshest in cold storage so make sure you keep them in your refrigerator rather than on your countertop (unless you plan on eating them straight away, in which case your countertop is perfectly fine). Cherries freeze well if you remove their stone, place them in a single layer on a tray in the freezer until frozen through, and then seal them in a freezer-bag. You can then throw these cherries into smoothies and desserts directly from your freezer.

 

Peaches: Peaches took me a little longer to appreciate because my mini-self objected to their lightly fuzzy skin, but I soon overcame that hurdle and enjoyed many moments of simple pleasure in the company of a perfectly ripe peach, it’s juice running down my wrist. Even now, I sometimes try to eat my peaches quietly away from the rest of the household to fully absorb myself in that moment of simple joy. When buying peaches, look for unblemished skin and a slight give when pressed with your thumb. Peaches come in a variety of shades from pale yellow to blush red to maroon, and can be large round orbs or small flat discs (my preference is for flat peaches). The scent of a peach is a good indicator of its taste. Peaches are delicate so make sure you carry them on top of the rest of your shopping rather than at the bottom (as I have learned the hard way). Peaches are at their peak in July and August.

 

* The produce above is in season in July in the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere, July seasonal produce includes papayas, mandarins and golden delicious apples.

 

 

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Mar 012016
 

SS - March: Radishes, Baby Spinach, Endives

 

 

March is here so start looking out for delicious new Spring vegetables!

 

Radishes come into season in spring. They tend to become spicier as the temperature gets higher, so spring radishes are milder than summer radishes. Look for firm radishes with fresh green leaves, and avoid any radishes which feel soft or spongey. To store radishes, chop off the green stems and leaves at the top because they pull moisture from the radish. The leaves are edible raw or cooked so make sure you store the radishes and the separated leaves in your refrigerator’s vegetable drawer.

 

Baby spinach is a cool weather vegetable which grows best in early Spring and in Autumn. Look for fresh dark green leaves which are not wilted. Baby spinach is extremely versatile and can be added into all sorts of food for a quick nutritional boost. It takes on other flavours well so it is wonderful in green smoothies (trust me on this – 80% spinach, 20% ripe fruit, plus some liquid and a touch of honey). A handful of baby spinach leaves in a salad or added into anything you are cooking is another easy way to incorporate this Spring vegetable into your diet. To make a delicious healthy spinach dip, see my recipe ‘Baby Spinach and Garlic Dip‘.

 

Endive season is September to May, with the peak of endive season around November. Spring is your last chance to eat these lovely bitter vegetables before they go out of season. Look for endives with fresh looking leaves which are not wilted and brown on the edges. Harvested endives tend to become more bitter with exposure to light, so you may want to store you endives wrapped in a paper towel in your refrigerator’s vegetable drawer. They can be eaten raw or cooked. If you find endives too bitter, mixing them with other leaves helps to balance their flavour. They also sweeten when roasted in the oven with olive oil.

 

 

SS - March: Radishes, Baby Spinach, Endives

 

 

The produce above is in season in March in the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere, March seasonal produce includes figs, plums and kale.

 

 

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Dec 042015
 

Fudgy Date-Cocoa Balls

 

I am not a huge fan of baking so I am always looking out for easy sweet treat recipes which I can make and put on my table during the holidays. And if it’s easy enough to involve kids, even better!

 

Recently, I’ve seen a lot of recipes for healthy no-bake nutrient-dense sugar-free Bliss Balls (also called Energy Balls) and I thought it was probably time for me to try my hand at them.

 

There are many recipes for Bliss Balls online, some of them better than others. A few things I have learned from making batches of Bliss Balls:

  • Soaking your dates not only makes them more fudgy but also mellows out their flavour so that other tastes can come through.
  • There must be at least one dry ingredient to balance out the sweetness of the dried fruit and to help bind it. I want my child to be able to take these to school as a snack, so I make them safe for the nut-free school environment by using unsalted sunflower seeds. However, if nut-free is not a requirement then you can use almonds or cashews instead.
  • Chilling the mixture in the refrigerator for between 2 hours and 2 days makes the mixture easier to handle and form into balls.
  • Once you have formed the balls, roll them in your coating of choice within 20 minutes for best sticking.
  • Make the balls bite-size so you can pop them in your mouth in one go.
  • Keep the balls refrigerated as they can become a little soft if kept at room temperature for too long.
  • If you want to use small cupcake cases, it is best to use them just prior to serving to avoid the cases becoming limp from the moisture of the Bliss Balls.

Aside from the health aspects of Bliss Balls, I especially love them because they are so easy to make with my child. We have already spent many fun and relaxing sessions rolling and decorating our festive Bliss Balls.

 

I really enjoyed making these Fudgy Date-Cocoa Balls, experimenting with them until I got the proportions just right for a chocolatey treat. I look forward to trying lots of combinations of ingredients in the future, so if you want to keep up-to-date with my recipes make sure you register for my emails (top right column) or follow me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

 

Share your thoughts: Have you tried making Bliss Balls before? Any tips you would like to share?

 

 

Fudgy Date-Cocoa Balls

 

 

FUDGY DATE-COCOA BALLS

(makes about 20-24 bite sized balls)

 

Ingredients:

200g / 8oz dried dates (without pits)

150g / 5oz unsalted sunflower seeds or nuts (almonds or cashews)

2 Tbsp cocoa powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

(You will need a food processor for this recipe)

 

A variety of ingredients to roll the date balls in such as:

Dessicated coconut

Cocoa powder

Ground pistachios

Ground almonds

 

Small cupcake cases (optional)

 

Directions:

  1. Weigh out 200g dried dates (without pits) and put them into a heat-proof bowl. If your dates have pits, it is very easy to remove them by slicing the date lengthwise along one side and pulling out the pit.
  2. Boil some water in a kettle and pour it over the dates in the bowl. Let the dates soak for 10 minutes and then drain the water away. Your dates are now ready to use.
  3. Weigh out 150g of unsalted sunflower seeds or nuts (almonds or cashews). Put them in your food processor and process them until they are finely ground.
  4. Add the dates, cocoa powder and vanilla extract to the food processor. Process for 1 minute until well blended.
  5. Taste and add more cocoa powder or vanilla extract. The consistency of the date mix should be so that it sticks together but it is not sticking to your hands.
  6. Chill the date mix in your refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours or upto 2 days.
  7. Once chilled, take a small amount of the date mix and roll it in your palms into a bite-sized ball.
  8. When you have made all the balls, roll them in the different decorative coatings and arrange on a plate. I recommend rolling them within 20 minutes for the best stickiness.
  9. Serve immediately or refrigerate for upto 3 days.
  10. If desired, place the Fudgy Date-Cocoa Balls in small cupcake cases just prior to serving.

 

Share your thoughts: Have you tried making Bliss Balls before? Any tips you would like to share?

 

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Oct 232015
 

October Snack Platter - Figs and Persimmon

 

Dear friends,

I have decided to start writing a monthly post called ‘Seasonal Snacks’ about seasonal fruits and vegetables which we can all snack on easily throughout the month. I hope you’ll find it useful and it will help you know what to look out for when you’re shopping for food. My aim is to mostly keep it raw, easy to prepare (usually just wash and cut), and always seasonal. This is my first Seasonal Snacks post, ‘October – Figs and Persimmons’.

Making healthy eating easier!

Love,

Erum (Total Salads)

 

 

In the Northern Hemisphere, figs are in season from June to October while persimmons are in season from October to February. Because fig season comes to an end just as persimmon season begins, there is only a short period of time every year (roughly around October) when you can eat them together on the same platter. So grab the chance to feast on them together this month while you still can!

 

 

Share your thoughts: Do you prefer figs or persimmons? Or, like me, do you love them both equally?

 

 

SEASONAL SNACKS: OCTOBER – FIGS AND PERSIMMONS

 

Ingredients:

Ripe persimmons (as many as you can eat in one sitting)

Ripe figs (as many as you can eat in one sitting)

 

Directions:

  1. Wash and dry your figs and persimmons.
  2. Using a serrated bread knife (or other sharp knife), cut the fruit evenly in half or quarters.
  3. Place on a platter and serve immediately. Best served at room temperature.
  4. Any leftover cut fruit can be kept in the fridge and should be eaten within a day.

 

Share your thoughts: Do you prefer figs or persimmons? Or, like me, do you love them both equally?

 

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