Having people over to your place has amazing benefits for your health. But if hang time and hosting makes you feel good, it’s equally true that sometimes the standard party snacks (ahem, nachos) don’t.
So when we heard that Julie Morris wrote a cookbook devoted to snacks made with superfoods, we tucked in a napkin. “Right from the start, snacks were, and still are, some of my favorite things to make with superfoods,” says natural food chef Julie Morris explains in Superfood Snacks, an admitted “grazer” who eats frequent mini-meals throughout the day.
“It’s not about denying our cravings; it’s about discovering new, better ways to enjoy them,” says Morris, who’s the executive chef for Navitas Naturals.
In Superfood Snacks, she presents some mad-genius mash-ups like Cauliflower Ranch Dip, a low-fat, low-calorie, dairy-free remake of the salad bar stalwart (and party perennial), as well as popcorn doused with dulse, a lettuce-like seaweed (holla!) that Morris uses as superfood salt-replacement.
And seriously, who else at the party is going to think of making churros out of mochi (the Japanese rice cake dough used to make a range of desserts)—and fortified with maca?
“I think it’s all about being smart with the ingredients we choose to use in the first place,” says Morris. And if you make these, you’ll be working toward a PhD in snacks.
Click through to get six of the natural food MVP’s superfood-iest snack recipes for this weekend’s gridiron grudge match—or any party in the future. —Erin Hanafy
(Photos: Superfood Snacks)
Dulse offers a briny, fresh-from-the-sea flavor and is a wonderful way to reduce salt. If you’re really pressed for time or just craving savory popcorn ASAP (been there), simplify the directions by just tossing your popcorn with a little olive oil, dulse flakes, black pepper, and sea salt if you like. Still totally delicious.
1 1/2 Tbsp dulse flakes
1 tsp chia seeds (optional)
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp ground dried lemon peel
Pinch cayenne powder, to taste
1 recipe Basic Stovetop Popcorn (see below)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 lemon, cut into wedges (optional)
In a small bowl, mix together the dulse flakes, chia seeds, black pepper, sea salt, lemon peel, and a pinch of cayenne (use a large pinch if you like a lot of heat, and a small one if you like less heat). Place the prepared popcorn in a large bowl. Drizzle the popcorn with the oil, toss very well using your hands, and sprinkle the seasoning mixture a little at a time over the popcorn while tossing. For a tangier flavor, squeeze a little fresh lemon juice over the popcorn and toss again. This popcorn is best served fresh, but it will keep in an airtight container for several days. Makes about 5 cups/2 servings
Dried lemon peel is used instead of fresh in this recipe for its more delicate flavor as well as its ability to better mix and adhere to the popcorn. You can purchase it wherever spices are sold, or you can make it yourself. For the homemade route, use a paring knife to cut off the peel of a lemon in strips. Place in a dehydrator overnight (or simply leave out at room temperature to dehydrate naturally for several days). Once hard, place in a spice grinder and blend into a powder. Store in an airtight container until ready to use.
Basic Stovetop Popcorn
Popcorn is a snack-food staple for me, and I’ve discovered that you need way less oil than most stovetop popcorn recipes call for, as long as you follow the recipe below closely.
1 Tbsp grapeseed oil
1/4 cup organic popcorn kernels
Warm a large saucepan (3- to 4-quart size, with a lid) over medium-high heat. Add the oil, wait until hot, then add the popcorn. Stir to coat the kernels with oil, lightly shake the pan to spread the kernels into a flat layer, then cover. Listen closely: once the first few kernels have popped, reduce the heat to just slightly below medium (medium low-ish). Continue popping, placing the lid slightly ajar to release steam, and shaking the pan back and forth over the burner once every minute to ensure even cooking of the kernels. After about 4 to 5 minutes, or once there are a couple seconds in between each pop, remove the popcorn from the heat and transfer to a bowl. Toss with superfoods and spices, or add flavorings as desired. Makes about 5 cups, or 2 servings
If there can be a Cronut—the famous croissant-donut combo—then there’s certainly room in this world for mochurros, my proud hybrid of mochi (an ingenious puff pastry-like product from Japan), and churros (of Mexican cuisine and state fair fame).
1 package (12.5-ounce) mochi*
1 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup coconut sugar
4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp maca powder
1/8 tsp sea salt
*For best results use a plain variety of mochi. Superfood varieties or cinnamon-raisin flavor may also be used if available.
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line 2 baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper.
Use a chef’s knife to trim the side of one of the long ends of the mochi block to create one flat edge. With the flat edge facing you, carefully slice the mochi lengthwise into ¼-inch strips.
With a pastry brush, lightly brush both sides of each mochi strip with a little of the melted oil. Arrange the strips in pairs so that their flat edges are touching each other end-to-end to create (9 total) 12-inch strips that will become conjoined when baked (make sure no other edges are close to touching, or else they will stick, too). Reserve the remaining melted oil.
Place the baking sheets with the mochi in the oven and bake for 10 minutes, or until the mochi is puffy and crisp.
While the mochi is baking, pour the coconut sugar, cinnamon, maca powder, and sea salt into a pie pan or other shallow baking dish. Mix well to combine and shake the dish to create a flat layer of seasoning.
After the mochi is finished baking, remove it from the oven. One at a time, lightly paint the exterior of the mochi with coconut oil (using tongs, if needed, to handle the mochi while it is hot), then roll mochi in the spiced sugar to lightly cover. Transfer mochi to a plate. Repeat with the remaining strips. Mochurros are best served immediately, but will retain a semi-crisp texture for about a day. Makes 9 12-inch Mochurros, or 4–6 servings
Mochi can be found in most natural food stores in the refrigerated or frozen section.
Savory with a little sweet ’n’ smoky punch, these crunchy seeds have a whole lot of complex yum power.
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp chipotle powder
1 Tbsp coconut sugar
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1/4 cup flaxseeds
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp spirulina powder
Add the cumin seeds to a sauté pan over medium heat and toast until fragrant for 2 to 3 minutes. Use a mortar and pestle (or spice grinder) to crush the cumin seeds into a powder. In a small bowl, mix together cumin powder, pumpkin pie spice, chipotle powder, coconut sugar, and sea salt.
In the same pan, warm the coconut oil over medium heat. Add the pumpkin seeds, and stir to coat with oil. Add the spice mix, stirring to distribute. Toast the seeds for 3 to 4 minutes, or until seeds swell slightly and begin to pop. Stir in the flaxseeds and toast for 30 seconds longer. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the maple syrup. Once the syrup has stopped sizzling, sprinkle in the spirulina and stir very well.
Transfer the contents to two large ceramic plates, and use the back of a spatula to spread the seeds into a thin layer. Let them cool for a minimum of 20 minutes—the seeds will be sticky at first, but they will harden as they cool. Store at room temperature for up to several weeks in a sealed airtight container. Makes about 2 cup, or 4 servings
While these pepitas are an incredible snack to eat by the handful, you should also try them sprinkled on top of salads and roasted vegetables, or as a soup garnish.
Spirulina is a rich source of beta carotene: A 3 gram serving contains more than twice the beta carotene found in a carrot!
Cherries and goji berries are soulmates in the dried-fruit world—I often make trail mixes that pair these two red beauties. Here, they’re friends again in these wholesome, cacao-nib raw bars. Packed with all kinds of antioxidants, these bars appear to be “only” sweet treats, while undercover they are anti-aging workhorses. (Tell your guests that yummy factoid!) Cut them into bite-size morsels for your party.
1/2 cup raw walnuts
3/4 cup raw almonds
1/4 cup Medjool dates, pitted
1/2 cup dried goji berries
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup dried cherries
2 Tbsp cacao nibs
In a food processor, combine the walnuts and the almonds, and process the nuts into the size of small gravel. Add the dates, goji berries, vanilla extract, and cinnamon powder, and process until the mixture forms clumps and begins to stick together. Add the cherries and cacao nibs and process briefly to incorporate the ingredients, but leave some small chunks for texture. Stop the machine and check the consistency: Depending on the natural moisture of the dates, you may need to add a touch of water—1 teaspoon at a time—to get the crumbs to stick together when pinched. If the dough is too wet, blend in a few extra almonds.
Place the dough on a large sheet of plastic wrap on a cutting board. Press the dough into a compact rectangle, then wrap it tightly in the plastic, compacting it even more. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a ½ -inch-thick layer. Unwrap the dough and cut it into bars or bites as desired. Energy bars will last several weeks unrefrigerated and covered, or keep them in the freezer for long-term storage. Makes 8 bars, or 8 servings
Add ½ teaspoon spirulina powder while blending the ingredients for a mineral-rich green upgrade.
Why stop at just plain ol’ almond butter when you can have protein-packed hemp, chia, and pumpkin seeds (pepitas) all at the same time? Deeply rich in minerals such as iron and healthy omega fats, this spread quickly transforms your crudite plate with sliced apples and bananas into an exciting superfood dip plate. The roasted almonds offer a little more flavor, but you can substitute all kinds of nuts and seeds to create your own variations.
1 cup roasted unsalted almonds
1/2 cup hemp seeds
2/3 cup pepitas
1 Tbsp chia seeds
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 Tbsp grapeseed oil
Put the almonds into the bowl of a food processor and grind them into a flour, about 30 seconds. Add the remaining ingredients and blend about 10 to 12 minutes, stopping the machine and scraping down the sides as needed. This will transform the mixture into a very smooth, creamy blend with a nice sheen. (It may take an extra couple of minutes to get the mixture smooth enough. Just continue processing until the nut butter is loose and spreadable.) Store Power Seed Butter in a glass jar with a lid in the refrigerator, and it will last for several months. Makes 1 1/2 cups, or 12 servings
Pepitas have high levels of fatty acids, zinc, and phytosterols, all of which support a healthy prostate.
This is a low-fat, low-calorie, dairy-free ranch dip that Morris swears will pass the test of any devoted ranch lover. It’s great with vegetables, especially broccoli florets; in fact I’ve been known to eat an entire crown of broccoli so long as it’s accompanied by this dip, she says.
1 1/2 cups steamed cauliflower florets*
1/2 cup unflavored almond milk
2 Tbsp grapeseed oil
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp hemp seeds
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp garlic powder
Shot of hot sauce, to taste
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp fresh chives, minced
Place the cauliflower in a blender, along with the almond milk, grapeseed oil, apple cider vinegar, and hemp seeds. Blend for a full minute, or until completely smooth and creamy. Add the Dijon mustard, garlic powder, and hot sauce, along with the sea salt and black pepper, then blend to combine. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if needed. Add the chives and blend briefly just to incorporate, without processing the chives too much. Transfer the dip to a serving bowl or a resealable container, and refrigerate for 1 hour to chill before serving. It will keep, refrigerated, for 1 week. Makes 1 1/2 cups/6 servings
This dip is especially good with fresh vegetables, particularly broccoli and carrots. It may also be enjoyed with roasted sweet potato fries or roasted carrots.
Cauliflower is an astonishingly good source of vitamin K: 1 cup has a whopping 476.2 percent of the RDA! People with higher levels of vitamin K have greater bone density and a lower rate of osteoporosis.
*You can also use frozen cauliflower that has been thoroughly defrosted.
Still need snack ideas? These 9 options are way tastier than your average veggie tray.