Glutard Girl: Traveler Snacks
One of my favorite snacks is a vestige from my Girl Scout years and goes like this:
1. Melt a square of butter in a frying pan. Medium heat works best.
2. Take a piece of gluten-free bread (preferably Udis or Rudis, because they are the least-weird) and pinch out a one-inch hole from the middle. (Eat the hole. Do not throw away any part of your $5 bread loaf).
3. Lay the bread in the butter and leave until it’s lightly browned, then flip it to the other side. Add more butter if needed.
4. Break an egg in the bread hole and let the egg cook until mostly firm on the warm side, then flip the egg and bread together so they egg can cook all the way through.
5. Shake some salt and pepper on the top and pull it from the pan. Watch your fingers.
6. Take it with you in the car on the way to work and eat while you’re driving.
Just kidding. Sort of.
Being gluten-free doesn’t always make you into the model of health. If your life requires you to eat and run, or travel often, giving up wheat and other glutinous grains won’t automatically give you a nutritious lifestyle, unless you are redoing your whole diet. That said, it helps immensely to have some healthy portable snacks on hand, in case that travel and eat-and-run-lifestyle finds you in a desert for glutard-friendly foods. I cannot count the number of unprepared flights I’ve spent peckish, forced to skip the pretzel and cracker snacks, only to disembark into an airport world of pizza, Chinese food, and pre-packaged sandwiches. Now I always try to have a handy (as in no utensil needed) snack in my bag to tide me over, either a Lara bar, or a homemade goodie. Below are two more favorites I made this week. Please, share one of your own. We could all use some good inspiration.
A healthy option and a great way to recycle. This is a modification of a recipe from Pickles and Honey, and something I found while Googling for ways to use my juicer pulp. Her rendition is a little more expensive, but I am sure it’s delicious too. My boyfriend, a gluten-plus person, has had these several times with and without the chocolate, and it always amazed that he likes them. I believe the last conversation went something like:
Him: Wow, that’s actually good. I am always amazed when something a little… (pauses and looks at me nervously).
Him: Yes, you know, with the other flour. I am always surprised when the stuff you make tastes good. If gluten-free foods like this don’t all suck, then I think I could cut down on wheat a little in my own diet.
Me: Ah, the taste of victory.
1 cup of juicer pulp. You’ll probably want it to be something a little sweet, either carrot or apple based, or both. No mater what pulp you’re using, make sure it is made of things you want to eat. In other words, cut the tops off carrots, core the apples, and peel the ginger before sending it through the juicer. I like to use carrot, apple, ginger, and spinach/kale pulp. It always makes me feel better to know I snuck in some greens.
1 ½ cups of gluten-free flour. I like Bob’s Red Mill Biscuit and Baking Mix because it is already balanced with the right amount of xanthum gum. And it tastes so funky when it’s raw, you are in no danger of eating all your batter before it becomes muffins.
¼ brown sugar. Use more or less depending on how sweet you like your day-to-day snacks. I don’t use artificial sweeteners, and I am too poor for the fancy stuff. But if you know how much Splenda is appropriate or if your budget includes agave nectar and prefer that, go for it.
¼ cup and 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 tsp baking soda (baking soda helps dough rise; feel free to be a bit liberal)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
Enough almond/soy/coconut/dairy milk to make dough the right consistency (usually ½ to 1 cup)
½ cup of dark chocolate chips (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin pan with the tablespoon of melted coconut oil.
2. Dump juicer pulp into a large bowl and pick through it to remove all the large chunks and any extra unwanted pieces, like accidental seeds or skins.
3. Add dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, salt, sweetener and cinnamon (but not the chocolate chips, yet). Blend. I use my hands to blend almost every baked good, and it is particularly useful on this recipe to break apart the juicer pulp. But do what you're most comfortable with.
4. Add ¼ cup of melted coconut oil. Continue to blend.
5. The batter will be very dry. Grab that cup of fill-in-the-blank milk and add about ¼ cup. Blend. You are looking for a consistency between bread and cake batter. Keep adding the milk a little at a time and mixing until you reach the desired thickness. Then you can integrate the chocolate chips.
6. Separate the batter into the muffin pan holes, filling them about ¾ way.
7. Bake 10-15 minutes or until brown on top and an inserted knife pulls out clean.
8. Let them cool at least 5 minutes before taking them with you. They are tasty as is, or add/bring butter, jelly, or more coconut oil for slathering. Yield: 12 muffins
Homemade Nut and Fruit Bars
There are a lot of options for this recipe. One of my favorites comes from The Complete Guide to Naturally Gluten Free Foods (Fair Winds Press, $21.99) by Culinary Institute of the Americas chef, Olivia Dupin (we’ll return to the book in a later post). This particular variation is relatively easy and flexible, and the bars travel well. Use whatever nuts and dried fruit you prefer; add cinnamon or other spices. There is a lot of room for play.
Honey Nut Trail Mix Bars
1 ½ cup crispy brown cereal
½ cup whole cashews
½ cup whole almonds
½ cup roasted, shelled pistachios
½ cup whole pecans or walnuts
½ cup raisins
½ cup dried cranberries (I prefer cherries for their plumpness)
¼ cup sesame seeds (tastiest roasted in the pan first)
¼ cup flaxseed meal (NOT whole flaxseeds. Your body cannot digest them until they are broken down into a flour)
¼ firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup honey (no substitution possible here; you need honey for its consistency)
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp cornstarch
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees
2. Cut a 9 x 9 inch piece of parchment paper. Grease a 9 x 9 inch baking pan (I like using coconut oil for this too. The flavor adds a lovely dimension). Lay the paper in the pan. Grease the paper. Put the whole thing aside.
3. In a large mixing bowl, combine everything but the honey, sugar, salt, and cornstarch.
4. In a medium saucepan, combine honey, brown sugar, salt, and cornstarch and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
5. Pour mixture over nuts, fruits, and seeds and stir until well integrated. (I don't recommend using your hands for this particular blending).
6. Transfer the mixture to the greased pan, lined with greased parchment paper. Use another piece of parchment paper to press down and even out the mixture across the pan. Discard the top paper.
7. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool several hours before touching it, or putting in your mouth. Those nuts stay hot for a long time, and the honey blend needs time to harden.
8. Move the baked piece onto a cutting board and remove the paper. Cut it into approximately 16 squares. A serrated knife works best.
Now you have your own nutritious fruit and nut bars to tie you over on your travels.
I'd love to hear your ideas for other easy-to-carry, no utensil snacks, or even meals you take for long flights or road trips. Have you found a savory recipe that works well? Please share.