1. Dried Fruit and Nuts – You know how they say people only get better with age? Or maybe that’s wine… Well, I don’t know that fruit becomes better with age (it was so fabulous in its youth), but my new favorite, dried figs, certainly makes a case for it. While many dried fruits can be on the, for lack of a better word, dry side, white Turkish figs are practically juicy. I love to pull them apart in my fingers, sticky like caramel. A couple of moist figs and a handful of almonds, cashews, or peanuts, and I’ve got a quick snack that’s a lovely blend of sweet and salty. The fat in the nuts give satiety, and the sweetness of the dried fruit makes it feel like a treat. Plus, just two figs offers 6% of your calcium and 4% of your iron daily value. If I don’t have figs around, standard raisins and dried cranberries are also a good time.
Interesting fact – some Biblical scholars think that the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden was not an apple but in fact, a fig. Makes sense since Eve and Adam had easy access to the fig leaves. It’s handy when fruit can have a dual purpose – food and fashion!
2. Hummus and crudités with dolmas – One funny statement that someone recently said to me after hearing I’m vegan was, “Oh, you must eat a lot of hummus then.” Apparently vegan is synonymous with hummus. And though I suppose I’m continuing with the stereotype, I really do love hummus. As I’ve written before, it’s completely forgiving to make and can be changed depending upon the beans on hand and the kinds of spices that are appealing that day. For the coordinating pictures I’ve made a chickpea hummus and a black bean hummus and then put them in the same bowl. It’s like Greek Goober Grape. It can be used for a cheeseless quesadilla, as a dip, as a sandwich topping, or as Rip Esselstyn uses it – as a mayonnaise substitute.
I almost always have a container of homemade hummus in the refrigerator for a quick snack with the addition of some sliced vegetables, like cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, bell pepper, carrots, and celery. To make more of a meal out of it, include the simple addition of dolmas from the grocery store deli or Mediterranean restaurant and slices of avocado. I don’t think finger food could get better.
3. Fruit – What could be more convenient than a bowl of fruit stocked with apples, pears, oranges, grapefruit, bananas, and mangoes? In the summer my refrigerator is bursting with cherries, figs, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, pineapple… I love the portability and easiness of most fruits, plus they are nature’s dessert. There’s nothing quite like slices of ripe mango to make an ordinary afternoon snack a real pleasure.
4. Popcorn – It’s not just for movies anymore. For a filling snack that always makes the house smell delicious, who can resist popcorn? No other whole grain gets this kind of adoration. I’m still using my parents’ air popper from the 80’s, and it’s going like gangbusters. (Did gangbusters ever think they’d be linked with a novelty appliance? Unlikely. “Hello, officer. I couldn’t help but think of you this weekend while I was enjoying handfuls of popping corn and watching Land Before Time. By the way, thanks for busting those gangs.”) For the topping I squeeze on a bit of lime, a dash of my favorite hot sauce, or I melt Earth Balance and shake on a generous spoonful of nutritional yeast flakes.
5. Green Smoothie – Speaking of movies, this favorite snack could be called The Wicked Witch of the West’s Very Bad Day. “You liquidated her!” I stuff my blender with collard greens, kale, and/or watercress, add water, and then mix until it’s fully blended. Then I add ground flaxseed, a banana, frozen fruit, a few pulp cubes, and ice. I’ve been told that by its appearance alone my sludgy-looking smoothie is “a hard sell,” but one taste is all it takes to discover that looks can be deceiving. The banana and fruit tempers any bitterness from the greens. It’s a great way to get in antioxidants, iron, calcium, and omega 3’s, and makes for a refreshing and filling breakfast or snack, my pretty.