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Tag Archives: healthy snack

Sugar-free peanut and date bites

While I’m not a vegan (and never could be), I like following people who are on Instagram for healthy food inspiration, especially trying to come up with different healthier snacks for Nicholas. One of my favourite vegan Instagrammers is the lovely Two Minute Vegan (@twominutevegan).

A few weeks back she came up with a great idea for a two-ingredient healthy snack bar using just dates and peanuts. I just had to try it!

veganBlending up the dates into a sticky purΓ©e produces a wonderfully sweet caramel-like flavour in the finished bites and a seemingly naughty chewy texture. They really do taste like a sugary treat rather than a healthy snack.

The original recipe has a layer of peanuts on the bottom as well as on the top which works well if you’re cutting them into bars, but I just put peanuts on top. Even after cooking they’re quite squidgy, so it’s better to cut them into smaller pieces to avoid a sticky mess particularly with little ones.

Because of their squidgy soft texture, I think this recipe would also be great as pop-in-the-mouth balls, rolled in crushed peanuts before baking.

You really must try making these addictive bites!

SUGAR-FREE PEANUT AND DATE BITES

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 10 mins plus 30 mins in the fridge to harden
Makes 16 squares
Keeps in the fridge for a couple of days

1 1/2 cups unsalted peanuts
1 1/2 cups dates, roughly chopped

Heat your oven to 175C and line a square baking tin (mine is 20cm x 20cm) with baking paper.

Put 1 cup of the peanuts in a food processor and grind until they’re fairly evenly broken up into small pieces.

Add the chopped dates and blend while pouring in two tablespoons of water. Keep adding a little water until you have a thick paste (similar in consistency to a thick peanut butter).

Spread the date and peanut mixture into your prepared tin using the back of a spoon (wet it if the mixture keeps sticking to it). Sprinkle over the remaining 1/2 cup of peanuts and press them in.

Bake for 10 minutes.

Put the bites, still in the tin, in the fridge to harden (at least half an hour) then cut into squares.

vegan

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Healthy homemade microwave popcorn

Making your own popcorn means you can snack away guilt-free whether you’re watching a movie or not. It’s healthy because unless you add other toppings, simple plain popcorn with a bit of salt is a low-calorie snack.

healthy microwave popcorn

Since learning how easy it is to make at home when I was a teenager, I’ve always made it in a pot on the stove. For making larger amounts, this is still the best way I think. Put a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot, stir through 1/2 cup of popcorn kernels until they’re coated, put the lid on and put over a medium heat until the kernels start popping; shake the pot around putting it back on heat when the popping slows down; add salt if desired.

Of course you can buy prepackaged bags of popcorn kernels to go in the microwave. However, you’re paying lots of money for the packaging and often getting lots of added ingredients. Just buy a (much bigger) bag of simple kernels.

Making popcorn in the microwave is perfect for a quick snack or for when you just want a couple of small servings. This method uses a paper bag (think brown paper lunch bag), but you can also pop them in a large microwave-safe bowl with a plate over the top. Either way, be very careful opening the bag or bowl, keeping your fingers away from the escaping steam.

I’ve tried making microwave popcorn with oil and without. I’d encourage you to try both. Without the oil is definitely healthier, but it’s only a small amount and, for me, the taste is so much better with it.

But before we get popping…

WARNING: popcorn can be a choking hazard for babies, toddlers and even bigger children. Even if your little one has teeth, she may swallow rather than chew them. Large pieces of even the fluffiest popcorn can block a little one’s throat, and unpopped or half-popped kernels and the husks can also be very dangerous. The common advice is to not give popcorn to under twos, but some experts say avoid them until four years of age. When you think your little one is old enough to eat popcorn, break bigger pieces up, check for unpopped and half-popped kernels and husks, and have them eat sitting down and supervised.

HEALTHY HOMEMADE MICROWAVE POPCORN

Prep time: 2 mins
Cook time: 2 mins
Makes 1 adult serving

1/4 cup popcorn kernels
1 small clean paper bag such as a brown lunch bag
1/2 tsp olive oil (optional)
pinch of salt (optional)

If using oil, put it in a small bowl, add the popcorn kernels and salt (if using), and stir until the kernels are covered. If not using oil, skip to the next step.

Place the kernels in the bag. Fold the top over 2 or 3 times to close.

Place the bag in the microwave and cook for 2 minutes on high or until there’s more than 2 seconds between pops.

Be careful of the escaping steam when opening the bag.

Variations:

  • sprinkle over nutritional yeast for a low-calorie cheese flavour
  • add a pinch of cinnamon
  • add a pinch of garlic powder or onion salt

Tip: Take out the popped popcorn from the bag and microwave the unpopped kernels briefly again.