Foodie Friday: Snack Attack
For the first time that I can remember–maybe for the first time all year–I got home on Friday right after school. No debate practice to coach, no work, no volunteering at the hospital, no School Board meeting, no responsibilities. Just home. And, of course, food.
Usually, during the day, I’m running around so frantically that I don’t get a chance to slow down and think about what I’m eating. That job, I tell myself, is what weekends are for–when I can sit down for a meal without having to weigh how long it will take me to inhale a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in relation to how long it will take me to attend a Key Club meeting and finish my calculus homework, or something similar. The week is hectic, and eating is a chore, to be honest; like sleeping, it’s just another thing I “have to do”. I get home late every night, ready to scarf down dinner and dive into homework just to get into bed before 2 am. It’s a vicious cycle.
So when I got home on Friday, I made myself a snack, thinking all the while about how nice it was to slow down and just…eat. It made me think about the quintessential after-school snack– what do most kids do upon arriving home? Do they grab a bag of chips, and pop down in front of the television? If so, it should be known that there are better options!
Snacking that’s convenient, and healthy? Now that’s what I’d call a success! A couple of simple recipes for a hectic week.
I ducked into the pantry to search around for some options. Crackers, check. Canned beans, check. The fridge had veggies and fresh cilantro. Perfect. I checked the web to confirm my suspicion: Sweet Corn and Black Bean Salad is easy–and delicious! My mom eyed the beans with enthusiasm and suspicion. “Legumes?” she asked, hesitantly. I grinned. She’s always on a protein trip: “You’re still growing! You need protein!”– I guess it’s tough raising a vegetarian who doesn’t eat many dairy products. “Nuts!” she expostulates. “Beans!”, “Tofu!”, “Tempeh!”, and “Protein bars!” is all I ever seem to hear. She deserves credit for whatever protein I do eat; it’s a hobby of hers to make sure I get enough into each day. But yesterday she had a new pearl of wisdom to share with me: that protein is absorbed more effectively if eaten simultaneously with a grain. So when I plunked a can of corn down next to the black beans, I thought she was going to jump with joy.
Sweet Corn & Black Bean Salad
adapted from a Whole Foods recipe
- 2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
- 2 cups fresh or frozen white corn kernels
- 4 cups cooked black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
- 1/3 cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1. Mix together the vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a small bowl until blended. This is your dressing–it will give the salad some oomph! Set it aside for now.
2. It should be noted that this step is completely optional. I was pressed for time (well, actually, I was just plain hungry), and my salad turned out just fine! So only do this if you’re trying to impress–whether yourself or others, is up to you.
Immerse the chopped onions in a bowl of cold water and set aside, swishing them around occasionally with your hands to release some of their sharp, acidic flavor, for about 10 minutes. Drain, then refill the bowl with fresh cold water. Repeat the process four times, then drain onions well and blot them dry with paper towels.
3. This step is also optional, though recommended. Corn strained fresh from a can works fine, it just may not have quite the same effect.
Bring 4 cups of salted water to a boil in a small pot over high heat. Add corn and cook for 1 minute. Drain and rinse corn well in cold water to stop the cooking, then drain again.
4. Place the beans, corn, onions and bell peppers in a large bowl and mix. Add the dressing made in step 1 to the bean mixture and gently toss until the bean mixture is covered. At this point, you can cover and refrigerate for about 2 hours, and then add cilantro, salt and pepper right before serving, or you can add the cilantro, salt, and pepper right away and tuck in! (You can guess which one I did…)
This salad works great if you make a large batch at one time. It keeps for a while when refrigerated in a sealed container, and it’s very versatile! I ate it on flatbread crackers, as pictured above, but it would work great as an appetizer bean dip, in a tortilla or burrito, on a sandwich, or as a salsa topping with fish or chicken. Try it with guacamole, too–yum!
So, after all that, I had another idea. The flat bread crackers I was using (Nita Crisps–they’re yummy, simple, and best of all, local!) can be used for practically anything in the world, so I broke out some other ingredients and set to work on another snack creation. This one is even more simple–and it’s fun to eat. Perfect for little munchkins after school! (Granted, I can hardly be considered a munchkin. But still. Gotta have fun with your food once in a while!)
It seems like a strange combination, but give it a try. The peanut butter makes it, though, so beware–the crackers with just the grapes isn’t very tasty. I use pure peanut butter, ground fresh from a machine filled with raw, unsalted peanuts at the local Whole Foods. It’s delicious–just the way nature intended for it to be! None of that Skippy stuff. You’ve got to try the real deal!
Ladybugs in Mud (Grapes and PB with Crackers)
- red grapes
- peanut butter
1. Comically simple: Spread crackers with peanut butter. Cut grapes in half, then place on peanut butter.
2. Eat up!