Have I mentioned that I’m a big snacker? Nibbling is one of my favorite pastimes. A cookie here, a Wheat Thin there, and boom! Twenty pounds added. But just because I’m doing Weight Watchers doesn’t mean I’m going to stop snacking; far from it. It’s just a question of choosing more appropriate snacks. No more cookies, no more Wheat Thins. Instead, I’ve been forced to ingest healthier, more fiberiffic fare. It’s harder than I remembered from my old WW days—I like fruit as much as the next guy, maybe more, but I swear I’m hungry half an hour after an apple. I need something more substantial, something with a wee bit of fat, of protein. Times like this I wish I liked yogurt.
While trawling WeightWatchers.com today, I came across the Snacks section of their Meal Ideas tab. Most of the stuff was sort of silly or just plain unappealing—Chili-Roasted Tofu Sticks, anyone?—but one recipe caught my eye. It was called Indian Roasted Chickpeas, and it had a whopping three ingredients: oil, curry powder, and canned chickpeas. You toast the curry powder in the oil and drizzle it over the chickpeas, then roast them for a full hour. Easy peasy, right? Well, sort of. It is an easy recipe, it just doesn’t work the way it’s written. Equal amounts of oil and curry powder simply do not create something drizzlable; it’s more of a thin paste. So I tossed the peas into the skillet and stirred them around instead. Problem solved. Except that after 35 minutes in the oven, my wonderfully aromatic snack had begun to smell like a fire in an Indian restaurant. The peas were burning. A full hour, my foot.
I yanked them from the oven and segregated the ones that had burned beyond edibility, nearly a quarter of the can. The remaining peas were crunchy and spicy but missing something. Salt! Presumably because it’s a WW recipe, there was no salt in the original version. While preparing them I figured that since canned beans are already salty, it would be ok. No. They tasted fine, but without that little extra crunch of salt, fine was all they would ever be. So I added a teaspoon of sea salt to the cooked peas, transforming them into something borderline addictive. My hand kept dipping into their little bowl, in the same way it does for wasabi peas. Granted, mindless noshing is not the way to be losing weight, but if I have to munch, at least it’s something healthy, and the spiciness keeps me from eating more than a few at a time.
These are so good that I’d serve them at a party. And they’re so freakin’ easy!
Here are some other healthy snack ideas. Feel free to share any of your own in the comments section…
- Air-popped popcorn. My mom gave me a microwave popcorn maker—essentially a plastic bowl with an indentation in the bottom for the kernels, and a slotted top to let air escape—years ago, and it’s worth its weight in gold. Three minutes of nukage, a good spritz with I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter spray (which I use even when I’m not trying to lose weight—it covers the popped kernels perfectly and tastes quite good), and a healthy dose of salt, and I’m good to go.
- Twizzlers, chocolate flavor. Not terribly chocolatey but they take a long time to eat. Tootsie Rolls serve the same purpose.
- Umm, fruit.
- Pretzels. I’m quite fond of Pennysticks Oat Bran Nuggets. Verrrry crunchy.
- Duh, baby carrots.
- Mt. Olive brand no sugar added Bread & Butter Pickles. Sweet, crunchy, and virtually calorie-free.
- Fat-free chocolate pudding.
What’s that? You want the recipe for the Curry Roasted Chickpeas? OK.
Curry Roasted Chickpeas
Adapted from WeightWatchers.com
2 t. olive oil
2 t. curry powder [I used a hot ginger curry]
1 15 oz can chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and dried
1 t. sea salt
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside.
Heat olive oil in a skillet over low heat, and add curry powder. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until fragrant—about 30 seconds. Add the drained & dried chickpeas and the salt, and stir to coat. Pour onto prepared baking sheet in a single layer and place on the middle rack of the oven. Roast for 30 minutes, shaking the pan every ten minutes, until peas are crisp and golden.