Roasted Cherry Tomato Spread

Cherry tomatoes make an appearance on the Cucumber Bites snack, but their versatility allows them to shine on their own.

I have such a fondness for these bite-sized fruits. Both for their flavor and their nutritional value. If you have men in the house whose good health you value (or you are that man), have this snack ready and serve it with love. To find out why, scroll down to the Benefits.

Ingredients: 1 package (10 oz) cherry tomatoes, 4-5 cloves garlic, 2 Tbsp Olive Oil, 1/4 tsp dried oregano, 1/4 tsp dried basil, salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

- Turn the oven on to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Then find a cooking sheet and cover with a layer of aluminum foil.

- If the garlic cloves are already peeled, the only real prep work you need to do is slice the cherry tomatoes in half

- Plop your sliced tomatoes and garlic cloves on a cooking sheet or pan that has been covered in aluminum foil. Drizzle the olive olive, and add the salt and pepper, to your taste (I just sprinkle a couple wrist rotations of both over the ingredients). Shake around.

- Now the waiting game starts. This is the only bothersome part about the recipe. Once in the oven, you will have to wait for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. I use it at an excuse to get chores done. At about 45 minutes I would check the ingredients and give the cooking sheet another shake. You don't want the garlic to burn.

- When done, the tomatoes should be cracked at the skins, and the entire dish will be fragrant. Place the goods into a bowl, and use a fork to smash everything together.

- Sprinkle the dried oregano and basil, then stir again. Serve with toasted squares.

- For a low carb treat, place the tomato spread over sliced cucumbers or add a spoonful to 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese.

The finished product, accompanied by bite-sized whole grain toast circles.

The finished product, accompanied by bite-sized whole grain toast circles.

Benefits: Not only is this snack light, but roasting the tomatoes brings out the magic of lycopene. The nutrition world knows lycopene as a phytochemical and powerful antioxidant that helps reduce one's risk of cardiac disease, macular degeneration, and in men prostate cancer (and these benefits are just the tip of the iceberg, as research continues to reveal even more protective qualities). When you cook a tomato, you make the lycopene more available for the body during digestion. Pairing lycopene with a fat also helps in the absorption process. Keep in mind, you will want to pick a healthy fat (for heart health reasons), and in this case olive oil takes that role.

 

The good news: it saves well too! Have it for lunch or as a snack the next day.

The good news: it saves well too! Have it for lunch or as a snack the next day.



Spicy Popcorn

 

  • Ingredients: 1/2 cup popcorn kernels, 2 Tbsp canola oil, 2 tsp Chili seasoning mix
  • Directions: Place a large pot over the stove and add the canola oil. Turn the heat on the stove to medium. Add the kernels, then place the top on the pot (I keep the lid slightly tilted for steam to escape, then close the lid when I go to shake the pot). Shake often to prevent burning the kernels. Once kernels have popped (or as many as you could get), remove from heat and add the Chili seasoning mix. Shake well, let cool, enjoy!
  • Benefits: A great way to get a serving of whole grain (yes, corn IS a grain and NOT a vegetable). Plus calorically, popcorn is a light food that still satisfies your need for a good crunch. Plus it's cheap. A 2.49 bag of loose yellow kernels will make 27 servings. A serving size is 5 cups popped. You'll have popcorn for days!

Cucumber Bites

 

  • Ingredients: 1 English Cucumber (better because less seeds), 4 cherry tomatoes, your favorite hummus (Supreme Spicy Hummus and Garlic Hummus give the best kick)
  • Directions: Slice the cucumber into 1/2 inch thick coin-shape slices. Spread a thin layer of the hummus onto each cucumber "chip," then top with a cherry tomato
  • Benefits: Light yet filling. This will alleviate the hunger pains without over doing it. Cucumbers are an excellent alternative to crackers or chips in this case. In this snack they act as a low-calorie, high-fiber carrier for the creamy goodness known as hummus. The cherry tomatoes add healthful flavonoids and vitamins, along with a burst of flavor. 

Raw Nut Medley

 

  • Ingredients: Raw walnuts, roast & unsalted almonds, raw pecans
  • Directions: There is no specific science to this. Take an even amount of each, and create a 1/4 cup portion. I enjoy the almonds roasted to add a different flavor to the mix.
  • Benefits: Nuts are loaded with protein, monounsaturated fats (that help lower bad cholesterol), vitamins, minerals, phyto-chemicals and anti-oxidants. With this serving size you'll get about 6g of protein to help tide you over between meals. 

Avocado Toast

 

  • Ingredients: 1 small avocado (size of a tennis ball but with an oval shape), 1 slice whole grain toast (look for varieties with 3g fiber or more per slice)
  • Directions: When the avocado turns a dark green, scoop out the insides, mash it up, and spread on a slice of toast whole grain bread. If needed, add a pinch of salt. Try it first, because you may enjoy the flavor as is.
  • Benefits: Avocados have burst on to the scene in the last couple years, with an "it" factor envied by many of fruits. Rightfully so, this flavorful food has left its mark and is here to stay. High in omega-3 fatty acids (the healthy fat) and fiber (5g per mashed 1/2 cup), the avocado is frequently listed as a "super food." Pair it with a toasted piece of high-fiber bread and you have a snack (or breakfast) that can meet up to 1/3 of your daily fiber needs. Your bowels and heart will thank you.