Back to school
I can’t believe the summer holidays have flown so fast this year. All the shops are stocked with stationery and other ‘back to school’ paraphernalia and the college students will soon be discovering the new ‘Craney McLaney’. I thought it opportune to focus on some healthy snacks to pack into those school bags.
I recently came across a company called Squirrel Sisters, which has won umpteen awards for its healthy snacks. The bars are available in four flavours: Cacao Brownie, Cacao Orange, Raspberry Ripple, and Coconut Cashew. Each pack has two 20g sticks and comes in at under 100 calories per pack. They are not cheap (around £1.80 a pack) but they are vegan, paleo, gluten, and refined sugar-free and 100 percent raw. During the hottest summer days, I experimented with popping some into the freezer...wow, it made them last even longer, thus prolonging the sweet treat.
Widely available, including places like Waitrose, Boots, Ocado, Holland & Barrett, they are worth checking out – and not just for school children!
The actual Squirrel Sisters exist. Sophie and Gracie Tyrrell (you can see how they acquired their moniker) and they have written a cookbook Naturally Delicious Snacks & Treats: Over 100 healthy recipes by Gracie and Sophie Tyrrell, published by Pavilion Books.
Here are a couple of recipes from the book that are ideal as a healthy snack. You can also experiment and change the oils for the popcorn and the nuts and dried fruit for the trail mix to make your own version.
Black Forest Trail Mix
Dark chocolate in bars is generally far better than cooking chocolate drops, so buy a good high cocoa- percentage bar and chop it yourself. The cocoa nibs really maximise the chocolate flavour, but can be a little bitter, so leave out if you’re not a strong chocolate fan!
40g/11⁄2 oz dark (bittersweet) chocolate, at least 70% cocoa solids, roughly chopped
50g/13⁄4 oz/1⁄3 cup dried cherries
50g/13/4 oz/1⁄3 cup whole unblanched almonds
30g/1oz/1⁄6 cup unroasted buckwheat groats
10g/1⁄3oz/1 tbsp cocoa nibs (optional)
Mix all the ingredients together, and then divide into bags to snack from.
Bacon Maple Popcorn
The ultimate sweet and savoury popcorn combo – you’ll make this again and again!
2 slices dry-cure smoked streaky (fatty) bacon
A splash of olive oil
50g/13⁄4oz/1⁄4cup popcorn kernels
1 tbsp maple syrup
1⁄2 tsp sea salt flakes
Put the bacon in a non-stick frying pan (skillet) with a small splash of olive oil. Fry over high heat until crispy and golden all over, turning when needed so that it all browns evenly. Remove the bacon from the pan with tongs and leave to one side to cool.
Tip any fat left from the bacon into a large saucepan with a lid. Add the popcorn kernels and pop the lid on. Heat over high heat until you begin to hear pops. Keep cooking, shaking the pan frequently so that none stick and burn, until the popping subsides. Turn the heat off and leave it for another 30 seconds or so before removing the lid to make sure any late-popping kernels don’t fly out at you. Tip the popcorn into a bowl, discarding any un-popped kernels.
Once the bacon has cooled and hardened a little, put it into a food processor and blitz to a coarse powder.
Drizzle the maple syrup over the popcorn, stirring gently all the time so that it is evenly distributed. Sprinkle in the bacon powder and sea salt flakes, mix well and serve.