Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Super Healthy Snacks and Treats

Super Healthy Snacks and Treats: More Than 60 Easy Recipes for Energizing, Delicious Snacks Free From Gluten, Dairy, Refined Sugar and Eggs
Author: Jenna Zoe
Publisher:  Ryland Peters & Small (September 2013)

Ah, snacktime. The backbone of most childrens’ (and preschool teachers’) days, filled with lunchbox treats coveted by young and old alike. Who hasn’t hoped for a treat to fill a break in the morning rush or afternoon doldrums, or packed along a little extra “something” for that long ride to the cottage? Unfortunately, the delicacies commonly available to this generation of children and young families (as with every generation before) are far from being fuel to nourish the body and mind after taxing activity. Granola bars, nacho chips and candy-like “fruit snacks” are easy to buy, pack and grab whenever a passing craving strikes – but with that ease and convenience comes empty calories, saturated fats and grotesque amounts of sodium and refined sugar. However, healthier options are relatively simple to create and enjoy with a little time and effort, thanks to authors like Jenna Zoe and her book: Super Healthy Snacks and Treats: More Than 60 Easy Recipes for Energizing, Delicious Snacks Free From Gluten, Dairy, Refined Sugar and Eggs.

Super Healthy has over 60 recipes covering both sweet and savoury noshing. Breakfasts, Party Snacks, Dips and Dippers and even Cookies and Bakes get a healthier twist in Zoe’s hands. The book’s recipes are free of at least one (and often far more) of the following: gluten, dairy, refined sugar and eggs. This is no small feat, especially when things like (double) Chocolate Chip Cookies (p. 118) and Chocolate-Covered Caramels (p. 107) are concerned. Zoe doesn’t swap out ingredients willy-nilly, though – the introduction to the book has a short essay regarding common food intolerances and dietary excesses that are addressed in Super Healthy’s recipe section. While some of the language is a bit extremist and definitely closer to a holistic guru’s mantra than a scientific journal, the majority of her points remain valid concerns today. It is also worth noting that Zoe is the founder of Foods To Love, an online health food shop selling products free from wheat, gluten, sugar, dairy and eggs – so her push towards certain ingredients is not necessarily free of economic gain.

Even without their “health haloes”, the recipes in Super Healthy look so delicious it would be hard to resist a taste! Clare Winfield fills the pages with stunning full-colour photography which causes dishes to leap off the page. A rather “brown” sounding recipe for granola was transformed into the Power Protein Granola (p. 23) I couldn’t wait to make.

Sticky Carrot Squares
Sticky Carrot Bites (p. 130)

The granola, like the other recipes I tried in Super Healthy, was as delicious as the pictures had me believe. The nuttiness of the buckwheat and quinoa was perfectly balanced by the spices and maple syrup, and while I swapped out roasted chickpeas for the nuts the end result was nothing short of delicious. On the sweet side, a box of the aforementioned Chocolate Covered Caramels (made with tahini instead of peanut butter due to allergies) was warmly received by the few friends I gave it to, and the one-bite size I made them expanded the yield to triple what was stated in the book. For a throng of gluten free, vegan or otherwise food-restricted friends, a pan of Sticky Carrot Bites (p. 130) hit the spot – the slightly spicy, rich and dense bars were definitely the “brownies” advertised in the recipe’s preamble. The only change I made was to use slivered almonds instead of walnuts, both due to taste preference and due to the fact that almond milk is the liquid called for. My personal favourite had to be the Creole Cauliflower (p. 77), which fed into my desire for spicy food with a “munchable” texture.

Tahini Date Caramels
Chocolate-Covered Caramels (p. 107)

The array of ingredients and (occasionally) food preparation techniques will throw off some cooks looking for an easy, “grocery store” fix. Certain items are on the pricier side, or are rare in non-urban centres, but when you take into account the money and time potentially saved by avoiding illness and purchasing “junk food”, the end result is essentially a wash.

For anyone looking to fill a craving with better-than-normal options, Jenna Zoe’s book Super Healthy Snacks and Treats: More Than 60 Easy Recipes for Energizing, Delicious Snacks Free From Gluten, Dairy, Refined Sugar and Eggs is definitely worth looking at. With nutritious recipes suitable for all ages to enjoy, a healthier future can be more delicious than any box or bag on the shelf.

Available on Amazon

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