2015-03-13 / Columns

Cooking on Purpose

Spring time is high protein snack time
By Connie Wendell
Special to the Post

Now that we have rounded the corner into March and hopefully spring weather is very near, we can ditch the high carb snacks that we crave during the cold months.

It is time for high protein snacks for energy and weight-loss. I have discovered some delicious snacks that fit the bill and will help us all embrace spring.

Arugula BLT pizza

¼ cup marinara sauce; 2 whole grain English muffins, split and toasted; ½ cup arugula leaves; ¼ cup chopped, seeded tomato; 1 slice turkey bacon, crisp-cooked and chopped; and ½ cup shredded partskim mozzarella cheese (2 ounces).

Preheat broiler. Spread marinara sauce evenly over English muffin halves. Top with arugula, tomatoes and bacon. Sprinkle with cheese. Broil 3 to 4 inches from the heat for 1 to 2 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Apples with maple-cinnamon dip

4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchatel); 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup; ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon; ¼ cup chopped walnuts or pecans, toasted (optional); and 2 cups thinly sliced apples (2 medium).

In a food processor combine cream cheese, maple syrup and cinnamon. Cover and process until smooth. Transfer mixture to a serving bowl. If desired, sprinkle with toasted nuts. Serve dip with apple slices.

Peanut butter and berry pinwheels

¼ cup plain fat-free yogurt; 2 tablespoons peanut butter; 4 (6-inch) whole wheat flour tortillas; ¾ cup fresh raspberries and/or chopped fresh strawberries.

In a small bowl stir together yogurt and peanut butter. Spread tortillas with yogurt mixture. Top with raspberries and/or strawberries; roll up tortillas.

Trim ends of each tortilla roll; and cut roll into 1-inch slices.

Italian fondue

2 2/3 cups lower sodium pasta sauce; 8 ounces ciabatta bread; nonstick cooking spray; 1 clove garlic, peeled; 4 ounces ¼-inch-thick slices pepperoni, cut into bite-size pieces; 4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into bite-size pieces; and ½ of a medium green sweet pepper, seeded and cut into bite-size pieces.

Heat pasta sauce and transfer to a fondue pot. Keep sauce warm (not bubbling) on low-heat setting. Cut ciabatta bread in half horizontally. Coat cut sides of bread with cooking spray. In a grill pan cook bread, cut sides down, over medium heat for 1 to 3 minutes or until toasted.

Remove from heat; cool slightly. Rub bread with garlic. Cut into 1 ½-inch pieces.

On 16 (6-inch) wooden skewers thread toasted bread, pepperoni, cheese and sweet pepper. (Or let people thread their own skewers).

Dip assembled skewers into pasta sauce, swirling skewers as you dip. Remove food from skewers and place on individual plates to eat.

Artichoke-leek dip

2 teaspoons butter or vegetable oil; 1 medium leek, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced; 2 ounces chopped pancetta or bacon; 1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped; 1 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese; 1 cup roasted red sweet peppers, coarsely chopped; 1 cup mayonnaise or light mayonnaise; 1/8 teaspoon black pepper; 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan or Romano cheese; 1 teaspoon snipped fresh Italian (flat leaf) parsley; and assorted crackers, flatbreads, vegetables for dipping.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet melt butter over medium heat. Add leek and pancetta; cook until leek is tender and pancetta is starting to brown, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in artichokes, the 1 cup cheese, the roasted peppers, mayonnaise and black pepper.

Spoon mixture into an 8-inch quiche dish or 9-inch pie plate, spreading evenly. Sprinkle with the 2 tablespoons cheese.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until heated through. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve dip with crackers, flatbreads and/or vegetables.

Mediterranean chicken wraps

1/4 cup plain fat-free yogurt; 1 teaspoon lemon juice or red wine vinegar; 1 clove garlic, minced; ¼ teaspoon dried dill weed, crushed; 2 (8-inch) low carb high fiber tortillas; 1 cup shredded cooked chicken breast (4 ounces); 1/3 cup fresh baby spinach; and 1 cup assorted vegetables strips (cucumber, red sweet pepper, carrot, yellow summer squash, etc.).

In a small bowl stir together yogurt, lemon juice, garlic and dill weed. Evenly divide chicken, spinach and vegetable strips on tortillas. Spoon yogurt mixture evenly over top. Roll up tortillas. Secure with toothpicks. Cut rolls in half.

Now that you have these recipes, there is no excuse. Until next time, keep Cooking on Purpose.

Connie Wendell can be reached at conniewendell27@gmail.com.

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