Turn to your spice cupboard for both inspiration and healthy additions to your snacking repertoire.
1. An Ethiopian-Inspired Hummus?
Take your average hummus. It's filling, tastes fantastic, and goes with everything from carrot sticks to pita bread. But even something this good can be boring if you make every batch the same. The next time you make hummus, give it a twist by using lime juice instead of lemon and spice it up with the Ethiopian spice mixture berbere instead of plain old cumin. Berbere contains paprika and cayenne pepper which are renowned for enhancing metabolism and increasing a sense of fullness. While you're at it, toss in roasted garlic for its anti-fungal, antibacterial, and antiviral effects.
Here's one of my favorite recipes:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup tahini
3-4 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp berbere
salt and pepper to taste
4 cups cooked chickpeas
Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender, puree until smooth, adding more olive oil or lemon juice as needed.
2. Look to Asia for Mixing Up Your Nuts
Nuts are another great snack to have on hand with their fiber, antioxidants, and Omega-3 components, but raw almonds can get awfully uninspiring after a while. Try roasting cashews and tossing them with a mixture of shredded coconut, chili flakes, and a bit of honey, or get things hot and spicy by coating roasted almonds with sesame oil and tossing them with Asian spices and sesame seeds browned in a skillet. The Asian spice mix contains ginger which studies have shown to contain almost equal antioxidant levels as a cup of spinach. If you want to keep the nuts raw, you can still make them interesting by turning them into a less traditional trail mix by adding dried cherries or currants instead of raisins.
3. That's a Spicy Smoothie!
If you love smoothies, make them even healthier by adding in a range of fantastic (and scrumptious!) spices. Add ginger for settling an upset stomach, cinnamon to manage blood sugar levels, keep your arteries healthy, and lower cholesterol, or star anise for its antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-fungal properties.
One of my favorite recipes is the Spiced Pear Smoothie:
1 can coconut milk
3-4 pears, cored and chopped
1/4 tsp each of ground ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg
1 tbsp real maple syrup
Combine all ingredients in blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Serve immediately.
LOVE SMOOTHIES? TAKE A LOOK AT A FEW MORE HEALTHY SMOOTHIE RECIPES!
Krista Bjorn is a food and travel writer. She blogs daily on her site RamblingTart.com. She's a self-described "Danish-Canadian lass who loves to write, travel and cook with people I love."