One way to help tame the bustle of the school and work week is to prepare snacks ahead of time. These are some of my family's snack-time favorites that are both wholesome and taste as good on Friday as they did on Monday.
Hummus. Making a big batch of hummus is as simple as throwing all the ingredients in the food processor and giving it a whirl — try this simple recipe. Chop up some veggies for dipping or spread it on toast or pita bread.
Hard-boiled eggs. Everyone has a method they swear by, and mine is to use a handy egg timer — it gets it right every time. We eat this protein-rich snack with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. A squirt of ketchup or hot sauce would be a nice addition too.
Frozen banana bites (recipe below). This healthy, sweet treat takes less time to make than you might think, and they store beautifully in the freezer.
Basic olive oil granola (recipe below). Homemade granola keeps well in the pantry or in the fridge, and its crunch makes it a satisfying snack. Eat it with yogurt, a splash of cold milk or straight out of the container.
Cheese cubes with fruit. Simply chop up firm or semi-firm cheese (We love cheddar, Gouda and Swiss.) on Sunday and store in Ziploc bags to eat throughout the week with berries, grapes or dried fruit.
Banana muffins (recipe below). Banana bread has the special quality of actually improving in flavor and texture from some time on the counter. Make it into muffins for easy portioning and even individual freezing.
Frozen banana bites
Makes about 20 to 25 bites
Frozen banana bites feel special and a little decadent, but they only call for three ingredients and require little active prep time.
10 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts
Peel the bananas and chop them into 1-inch pieces. Place the banana pieces in a single layer on a baking sheet or large plate and freeze for at least an hour.
In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the chocolate chips, stirring often. Pour the melted chocolate into a small bowl. One-by-one, toss the banana pieces in the melted chocolate, using two forks to allow any excess chocolate to drip before moving back to the baking sheet. Immediately sprinkle with the chopped nuts before dipping the next banana bite. Store in the freezer.
Basic olive oil granola
Makes about 3 cups
Ever heard of granola described as "melt-in-your-mouth"? This one is! It's so addictive you might want to double the recipe to make it through the week.
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup any combination of nuts and/or seeds
1/2 cup dried, shredded coconut
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup maple syrup or honey
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup dried fruit (optional)
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. In a large bowl, stir together the oats, nuts, seeds, coconut, salt, maple syrup or honey, and olive oil until the sweetener and oil are evenly distributed.
Spread the mixture in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and move to the preheated oven. Bake until golden and starting to clump, about 45 minutes, stirring about every 10 minutes.
Allow granola to cool completely before storing in an airtight container. If using within a week, add in the optional fruit before storing. If keeping longer, add in dried fruit when serving.
Makes 16 muffins
Made with whole grain flour and healthy fats, these muffins are wholesome and satisfying.
4 very ripe bananas, peeled
1/3 cup olive oil or butter, melted and cooled
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups whole wheat or whole spelt flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon (optional)
1 cup roughly chopped walnuts (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Add liners to a muffin pan.
In a large bowl, mash the bananas well using a fork or potato masher. Stir in the olive oil or butter until smooth. Stir in the eggs until just combined. Stir in the brown sugar and vanilla extract.
Sprinkle the flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon (if using) over the banana mixture and stir until just combined. Add the walnuts (if using) and stir just until evenly incorporated.
Spoon the batter into the muffin liners, filling them about 2/3 full. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool fully before storing in an airtight container. Store muffins to be eaten in three days on the counter. Refrigerate muffins to be eaten in four to seven days.