Post #475 Healthy Snacking

May 17, 2016 at 9:06 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post #475 Healthy Snacking

So recently I decided it was time to stop eating the fried foods and donuts that were so readily available at my store and start eating more of the healthier options available.  No particular reason for it except that I prefer to eat healthy when I can.  I don’t usually go in for food fads (as several blog posts attest), and generally eat to make myself feel good.  But a chocolate glazed donut or a tub of mac and cheese alongside a piece of fried chicken is a siren song for me and I’ve been eating far too much of that.  Too much.

Fried Chicken

My store is known far and wide for its good fried chicken.  I know one gentleman who drives 2 hours every Friday evening to get enough to hold him through the weekend.

It happens that our power bars are on sale this week and I used to eat those things like crazy.  Perhaps a little too much sugar, but overall healthier than a donut.  A yeast donut that’s been fried and glazed with chocolate.  One I can eat in about six bites.

Enough of that, the power bars!  I used to take boxes of these things with me when I was traveling in case I wasn’t able to catch a meal when I was supposed to.  There are tons of brands and tons of flavors.  It seems like most of them fall into two categories.  It’s either peanut butter or chocolate.  I don’t care a whole lot for peanut butter but you know how I feel about chocolate.

So on Sunday, for my lunch break I got a power bar billing itself as Chocolate Brownie.  It was really good.  Along with the bottle of water (which I’ve been drinking a lot more lately) it filled me up just right so I had plenty of energy to finish work and didn’t feel sleepy from eating too much.  (Feeling sleepy from overwork and stress are a different story.)  My mind started turning gears about power bars.  Then on Monday, I brought with me my snack for my break.  I brought crackers and cheese, something I love but haven’t thought of in a while.  I sat outside enjoying the sunshine and cool breeze and drank my water and ate crackers and white cheddar cheese.  It was good.

Then I came home and made brownies, cuz, well, brownies are good.

Brownies

When I was in college and living with my sister and her husband, I learned to make “healthy” brownies.  We all loved chocolate, though they were into carob at the time, and I wanted to make a power bar alternative.  So I started with the basic brownie recipe which I’ve included at the bottom of the post.  Then I added various seeds and grains until it was unrecognizable as a brownie, but still very good and very filling.

So I did that again today when I got home from work.

The weather has turned nice for a couple of days.  I got off work early, at 5.  I was home by six and relaxing.  We ate dinner and sat outside to enjoy the evening.  Once the sun was down enough to cool things off, we went inside and I started making brownies.

I added a quarter cup of wheat germ cuz that’s supposed to be healthy.  I added all the sunflower seeds that were left, about a quarter cup.  I added a spoonful of wheat bran cuz again, it’s supposed to be healthy.  I added a large helping of sesame seeds.  I added the last of the chocolate chips cuz that’s what you do.  And just because I had it in the freezer, I added some coconut, about a half cup.

All that went into the batter.  If I had them, I would have added Rice Krispies, but I forgot to get them before I left the store.  That would have added a crunch factor that would have sent these over the moon.  I set the baking time at the high end of the time spread.

It’s important that brownies don’t over cook.  The gold standard of brownies is chewy and gooey.  Over cooking will make dry brownies and maybe even burnt brownies.  But I had added so much stuff to the batter, I wanted to be certain the batter was done.

So what was the end result?  I haven’t eaten one yet, so I don’t know.  But the batter tasted primo.

So why add all those extra items?  Particularly to a batter that just doesn’t need it?  There’s a couple of reasons.  One reason, and the most important for me is I wanted something to take to work that I would actually eat (it’s chocolate, right?) but would be healthy and sustaining.  The second reason, the more you add to the batter, the more lift the brownie has.  The appeal of brownies is that as they cool they sink into themselves and create a fudgy, gooey, chewy bar that’s exceptionally delicious.  (There are cake brownies, but I don’t really care for those.)  Adding various chips, seeds, nuts, fillers causes the brownie to be thicker but still gooey and decadent.  And it adds interesting flavor bites and texture.

Next time I’m going to try adding rice krispies.  I think that’ll be good.

Here’s my standard go-to recipe for brownies.  Have fun with it.  Make ’em healthy!

 

Melt a half cup of butter slowly in a heavy pan. When butter is completely melted, turn off the heat.   Add one to one and a half cups of sugar (depending on taste) and mix until most of the sugar is dissolved.  Add one teaspoon of vanilla (not more or it will take on a stronger vanilla taste than you’ll care for, trust me.)  Add two eggs and mix completely.  Add 1/2 to 3/4 cup of cocoa depending on how chocolaty you want it.  If you’re adding other chocolate flavoring (like chips) stick to the lower end.  Stir that in carefully since cocoa tends to fluff about.  This will take a couple of minutes if you’re doing it carefully.  Once all the lumps are gone and the mixture is smooth, add a 1/2 cup of flour, a 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and a 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder.  Stir in all at once, as slowly as you did the cocoa.  Once the batter is smooth and silky, add any chips, nuts, seeds, candy, etc.   Spread in a prepared 9×9 inch pan and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out relatively clean.  Alternatively, use an 8×8 pan and bake for 34-40 minutes for a higher, gooier brownie.  You can also frost the brownie once it has completely cooled.

Enjoy

 

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