The Best Popcorn

Popcorn is one of my favorite snacks, and one I can feel moderately good about eating (most of the time).

Hands down, I think this is the best popcorn maker out there:

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The Whirley Pop stovetop popper is a pain to clean, but the delicious popcorn it churns out makes it well worth the effort. I make mine with a tiny (tiny!) amount of canola or olive oil (less than a tablespoon, just enough to coat the kernels), and I find that once it’s done, it doesn’t need anything other than a (modest) shake of salt.

You can make your own healthy popcorn in the microwave, too. It’s as easy as popping kernels in a plain brown paper bag. Find the instructions here. This is so much better than the artificial butter stuff.

For a real treat, check out Quinn popcorn.

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Their mission is simple: To clean up the food we eat, which is why you won’t find toxic anything in their products. And with flavors like parmesan and rosemary or olive oil and herbs, it’s hard to choose what to make.

 

 

 

 

Peanut Butter Cookies

I think peanut butter is something you either love or detest.

Register me under “Love.”

This recipe from Real Simple magazine is gluten-free and quite tasty.

It only requires 6 ingredients!

Even I can handle this.

What you need:

  • 2 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 t baking soda
  • 1 t salt

What to do:

  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Mix everything.
  • Drop spoonfuls on cookie sheet and bake 10-12 minutes.

My friend described these as “just like my grandma used to make.”

While I generally prefer a soft, chewy cookie, these are on the crispy side but still quite good – especially for being gluten-free.

Some excellent mix-ins:

  • Mini Reese’s peanut butter cups
  • Chopped salted peanuts
  • Chocolate chips
  • Peanut butter chips
  • Crushed potato chips
  • Crushed toffee bars
  • All of the above 

 

 

Lemony Quinoa Salad

I had to bring a dish to a Forced Family Function (F.F.F.) over the weekend, and I decided to counter the usual cheesy/bacony/buttery fare with a healthy quinoa salad.

Lemony Quinoa Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa (I used Trader Joe’s Tricolor Quinoa)
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1-2 lb fresh asparagus, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 cup fresh peas (Also Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1 lemon for zesting and for the juice
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley
  • 6 oz fat-free feta cheese
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Cook the quinoa according to package directions, except use the vegetable broth instead of water for a more flavorful end product.
  2. At the same time, prepare a large put of boiling water and blanche the asparagus pieces and peas. It’s fine to cook them together. 
  3. Zest the lemon, set aside.
  4. Drain the asparagus and peas, then toss them with the olive oil, a generous squeeze of lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Combine the quinoa, lemony green vegetables, tomatoes, parsley, lemon zest and feta.
  6. Squeeze the rest of the lemon over the whole thing, stir, and taste. You’ll probably want to season a bit more with salt and pepper.
  7. Eat.

Taking care to season the quinoa and the vegetables before mixing everything together really adds to the flavor and cuts the need to use much fat at all. The feta is also a strong note that stands up well. I like this dish to be really lemony, but you can make it to suit your own palate. I thought it was delicious.

Here’s what it looked like before I added the feta:

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P.S. Regardless of my opinion, this was a decided failure at the F.F.F. A few people politely tasted it, one proudly declared she’d “never even heard of qui-no-ah,” and I ended up bringing most of it back home, which was fine by me.

 

Avocado Hummus

My recent long travel spell (10 days!) brought me home with a suitcase of dirty laundry and a desire to cook my own healthy food.

Yes. You read that correctly. I am contemplating a domestic chore.

This recipe (generously given to me by my work friend, D, who can make a lot of really good things to eat) is something I occasionally make when I am forced to bring something to a potluck and can’t fake my way out of it by bringing something to drink instead.

And since this is me we’re talking about, it’s incredibly easy. 

Avocado Hummus

Ingredients:

  • 1 (16 oz) can of garbanzo beans, drained (reserve liquid)
  • 1 medium avocado
  • 1/4 cup olive oil OR use the liquid from can of garbanzo beans
  • Juice of half a lemon (to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (again, to taste)
  • Optional add-ins:
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic

Directions: Mix it all together in your food processor or blender. I like it a bit chunky, but blend to your preferred smoothness. Eat with jicama and carrot sticks, pita chips, etc. This also tastes great on a veggie sandwich.

Energy Bites

Even my feeble kitchen skills can handle this recipe from Women’s Running magazine. They’re gluten-free and honestly taste great. They remind me of raw oatmeal cookie dough, which is two huge thumbs up in this girl’s opinion.

Peanut-Butter-Protein-Bites

The original recipe is here, but I’ll re-post.

Ingredients:
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup light agave syrup
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/8 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup pitted dates
1/4 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Directions:
Add 1 cup oats, agave, peanut butter, and coconut to a large mixing bowl and set aside. Next, place dates, 1 cup rolled oats, and chia seeds in food processor. Pulse ingredients until dates and oats are finely chopped. Add processed mixture to ingredients in the large mixing bowl and blend until combined. Add chocolate chips and stir until well mixed.

Refrigerate mixture for at least 30 minutes before scooping heaping teaspoonfuls into your hands to roll into small bites. Recipe yields approximately 18 bites. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 weeks.

Yum.