During stay-at-home life in the pandemic, I have not stayed socially distant from the refrigerator. The allure of late-night snacks, boredom eating and cheesy dips has led to some, shall we say, issues.
I’m taking steps to rectify the problems. If you can relate, here are some ideas for healthier creamy, crunchy and sweet things to keep on hand to fight the munchies monster.
In general, I’m not a fan of bananas. So why have I been buying bunches at a time and letting them sit around my kitchen? To take advantage of that sweetness.
If you cut bananas into chunks, freeze them and then whiz them into creamy submission in the food processer, you get a smooth base to turn into many kinds of sweet satisfaction. The trick is to wait until the bananas are well-freckled/browned before freezing them. Green bananas are just not sweet enough.
Stir in some minichocolate chips and freeze in miniature muffin pans. Or add cocoa powder (or peanut butter powder if you have it) to make a very good substitute for ice cream.
My food processor has been working overtime, turning lowfat cottage cheese into a creamy base for dips. This substitute for sour cream, yogurt or cream cheese is less tangy but still has the mouthfeel of dairy. The high protein content makes you feel full for hours.
After I got the idea on Twitter to whip cottage cheese, I chopped bits of carrot, radish and scallions into mine. Flavor this any way that makes you happy. With curry powder, it’s great with carrot sticks. Or dab it onto cucumber slices. You’ll think of many variations.
Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas
This recipe is very simple and satisfying. With 53 calories, 9 carbohydrate grams and 2 grams protein per serving, you cannot go wrong. The multistep baking process is the key to making these crispy snacks. Great in salads! Makes 8 servings.
15-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ to 1 tablespoon olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 F. Lightly spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray. Rinse, drain and thoroughly dry chickpeas. (I spread them on a kitchen towel and massaged a bit with a paper towel until dry.)
In a small bowl, mix cumin, paprika, garlic and onion powders, coriander, salt and pepper.
Spread chickpeas on the baking sheet and bake 15 minutes. (Don’t add other ingredients yet.)
Remove from oven and drizzle ½ tablespoon olive oil over chickpeas, stirring until evenly coated. If dry looking, add another ½ tablespoon. Add spices and stir evenly to coat.
Bake another 10 minutes, then stir (or shake). Bake another 5 to 10 minutes, to desired crispiness.
Turn off oven and prop open the door. Let chickpeas cool in the oven to obtain maximum crispiness.
Creamed Cottage Cheese Dip with Vegetables
The calorie and fat count on this creamy base for dips will vary according to the type of cottage cheese you choose. Try this on a bagel half or English muffin, or with red pepper strips. Makes 2 cups.
16-ounce container lowfat (2% milkfat) small curd cottage cheese
½ large carrot, peeled, or 2 baby carrots
Salt, pepper and other seasonings to taste
Cut vegetables into 1-inch chunks. Mince into small bits, or put into food processor and pulse until chopped into small bits. Empty into small bowl.
Empty container of cottage cheese into food processor or blender. Process on high, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides, until curds disappear and mixture is creamy. Scrape into a medium bowl and stir in the chopped vegetables. Add salt and pepper, and other seasonings, to taste. Keeps five or six days.
Chocolate Banana Ice Cream
You can leave the whipped bananas unflavored, or add a half-teaspoon vanilla, or use powdered peanut butter for flavoring. This recipe is an amalgam of several on the Internet. Makes 3 or 4 servings.
3 fully ripe bananas
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
Peel bananas and cut into slices or 1-inch chunks. Freeze on a small baking sheet until solidly frozen, 2-3 hours.
Put frozen bananas into a food processor and process on high until creamy, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides. When creamy, add cocoa. Process until well-mixed. (You may need to stop and scrape down again.)
The mixture will be softer than ice cream. For firmer texture, scrape into a lidded container, cover and freeze a couple of hours before serving. Use within two or three days.
VARIATION: Use 6 bananas. When completely smooth, stir in ½ cup minichocolate chips. Fill minimuffin tins just to the tops with the mixture. Freeze. After 2-3 hours, when completely frozen, use the tip of a knife to help nudge the banana “muffins” from the cups. Serve as snacks or desserts. Frozen in a closed container, these are best eaten within a week, as they get icier as they age. Makes about 2 dozen.