Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Cooking up chips alternatives

Chips are the ultimate comfort food for my husband. A little salty, a little crunchy, a lot greasy. And in the midst of basketball season and bowl games, they tend to be on hand.

Trying to come up with alternative munchies in our home - for my weight's sake and for my children's healthier habits - can be a challenge. After all, home-cooked treats can be healthier and generate far less waste and cash than the pre-packaged alternatives.

We stumbled on a few recipes that we recently tried with some success. While alternatives to the butter and salt-encrusted bowl of popcorn abound (with varying degrees of healthiness), here are other ideas to consider:

Roasted chickpeas
Sounds strange I know, but hear me out. I stumbled across this recipe in Cookie magazine and figured it'd be a way to use up the random bag of dried chickpeas I had. My daughter has been happily munching on this every chance she gets.

The magazine calls for 1 cup of dried garbanzo beans (chickpeas), soaked overnight. I essentially doubled the recipe by using the full one-pound bag.

1 pound garbanzo beans
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons salt

Soak beans overnight (or at least 8 hours). Drain on paper towels and pat dry.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl toss the oil, sugar and garbonzo beans. Spread the beans in a single layer on a ungreased cookie sheet. Roast them until they are crunchy and no longer soft in the middle, stirring a few times to prevent burning. (Note: The original recipe called for 45 minutes, however, it took closer to 1 hour for a double batch.)

Immediately toss the beans in a bowl with cinnamon and salt. Cool and serve. Store in airtight container at room temp for up to a week.

Baked pita chips
Leftover pita bread pockets
olive oil
garlic salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut each pita bread into 8 triangles. Place triangles on cookie sheet.

Brush each triangle with oil mixture and sprinkle lightly with salt.

Bake 5 to 7 minutes, or until lightly browned and crispy.

White bean dip
The original recipe came from Whole Foods, but I rarely follow it anymore, instead basing it on what I have had on hand. Dress it up as "White bean crostini" or dress it down as dip and crackers or chips. The kids and I happily made a meal of it this weekend.

1 can canelini beans
1 tablespoon olive oil
roasted garlic (or other herbs)
1/3 to 1/2 cup water (until desired consistency)
1 cup parmesan

Blend in a food processor or blender. Serve it over bread (sprinkled with additional cheese and baked) or serve as dip with crackers, pita or baked chips.

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