Healthy snacks can hold you until dinnertime
One thing I’ve noticed during the past two years, as we have spent more of our time at home and on Zoom calls instead of meeting face to face, is how hungry I become by mid-afternoon. I’m not a big eater, so my lunch of salad or soup isn’t enough to keep me until dinnertime. Sometimes, we’ll treat ourselves to coffee at the Station on Kings, where Jack has a cookie and I slather butter on a slice of bread.
But the rest of the time, when I find myself foraging for nibbles around 3 p.m., I want something filling but not too heavy, and maybe moderately healthy. We’ve all seen the lists promoted by wellness blogs and fitness magazines: fresh fruit, nut butters, yogurt, cottage cheese and the like. While not averse to these ideas, I would much prefer something hot, which seems more satisfying than a cold apple or celery stalk.
For a time, I would order a pair of egg bites at Starbucks in the morning and save one for my afternoon snack. After a while, I realized the price was ridiculously high for something with just a few ingredients, and I might be better off making my own. This particular experiment was very successful, resulting in the batch of cheddar- and tomato-flavored egg bites in the photo. I’ve included the recipe below and can confirm they reheat perfectly.
Another option is to heat a cup of vegetable broth in the microwave and toss in some sliced scallions and diced tofu for ersatz miso soup. Or, you can make a pot of the real thing in just a few minutes. The process begins with simmering kombu (dried sea kelp) to create a broth known as dashi, to which you then add rehydrated seaweed, scallions, tofu and miso paste. Some recipes call for using dashi granules, but I prefer the umami flavor from kombu.
Next on my list of afternoon snacks is leftovers, which I always save, no matter how small the amount. Those last spoonfuls of red beans and rice or slivers of meatloaf can be heated quickly into the perfect amount of savory flavor to ward off hunger pangs. For those of you with a sweet tooth, a cup of hot coffee or tea can infuse a small biscotti with warmth – just be sure to stop after the first cookie.
Finally, if you are interested in something a bit more filling, why not broil a miniature pizza? Use either half an English muffin or a piece of whole-grain bread, cover with a layer of thin tomato slices and top with mozzarella cheese. For added flavor, sprinkle with Italian seasoning before giving this a few minutes under the broiler – the biggest challenge is only eating one.
On a totally different subject, I want to mention a recently published cookbook, “One Pan Perfect” by Donna Hay. I had the opportunity to interview the author for a Lewes Public Library/Browseabout Books collaboration in their Cooks & Books series. She demonstrated how to make two dishes from the beautifully illustrated collection that’s full of helpful hints and tips. I’ve included her recipe for Chicken with Burnt Lemons and Halloumi, a one-pan wonder to serve over baby spinach.
Egg Bites for Two
2 green onions
1 t butter
4 cherry tomatoes
1/3 C shredded cheddar
1/4 C half & half
1/2 t parsley
1/4 t white pepper
Preheat oven to 350 F. Coat the insides of 4 muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray. Finely chop the mushrooms and thinly slice the green onions. Add to a small skillet with the butter and heat over low until wilted. Mince the tomatoes and distribute evenly across the prepared muffin cups. Distribute the mushrooms and green onions, followed by the shredded cheddar. In a small bowl, whisk eggs; add half & half, whisking until smooth. Stir in parsley and pepper. Pour egg mixture into the muffin cups. Bake until set, about 20 minutes. Store leftovers wrapped in aluminum foil in the refrigerator; reheat in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Yield: 4 egg bites.
3-inch-long piece of kombu
4 C water
3 T shredded wakame
1/4 C white miso paste
3 chopped scallions
6 ounces silken tofu
tamari, to taste
Place the kombu and water in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium to gently simmer for 10 minutes. In the meantime, soak the wakame in a small bowl of warm water to rehydrate. Remove the kombu from the pan and discard. In a small bowl, stir the miso paste together with some of the hot broth until the mixture is smooth, then stir it back into the soup. Drain the wakame and add it to the soup pot along with the scallions. Simmer over very low heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Cube the tofu and add to the soup; heat gently for a minute. Season to taste with tamari.
Chicken with Burnt Lemons & Halloumi*
12 sprigs oregano
2 T olive oil
4 small chicken breast halves
7 oz halloumi or feta cheese
2 T honey
salt & pepper
4 C baby spinach
Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut each lemon into 6 wedges and scatter in a single layer on the prepared pan. Place the oregano in the pan and drizzle with olive oil. Bake until lemons begin to char at the edges, about 20 minutes. Remove pan from the oven and roll the chicken pieces in the juices, arranging them in the pan in a single layer. Slice the cheese and place on top of each chicken breast. Drizzle with honey; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Divide the spinach onto 4 dinner plates. Top each with chicken and spoon on juices. *Adapted from “One Pan Perfect” by Donna May.