Surviving the Winter Hungries without becoming a Hippo by Spring!

Posted May 23rd, 2015 by Mimi

I don't know about you, but the minute the chilly weather hits, I'm craving all sorts of food that I shouldn't.

Hot chocolate made with real chocolate with a puff of whipped cream and mini mallows on top, toast laden with cheese and freshly grated pepper, hot chips sprinkled with chicken salt, chocolate self saucing pudding oozing sauce and topped with double get the idea.

Not good for the waistline, that's for sure.

So I've put together my favourite healthier alternatives and I hope they're as useful for you as they are for us.

1. Sweet and Salty Popcorn:

You'll need:

1 bag of popping corn (available at the supermarket, usually on the bottom shelf in the popcorn section)

Cooking oil

Cooking spray

2 dessertspoons caster sugar (worth getting just for this)

1/2 teaspoon salt

Pop some popcorn the old fashioned way. Cover the base of a saucepan or wok with 2-3 tablespoons oil. Heat over a hotplate heated to high, until a kernel of popping corn starts to sizzle when dropped in. Add a quarter of a cup of popping corn (very inexpensive compared to the microwave stuff!), and shake gently over the heat until it starts to pop. Continue to shake while it's popping, lifting the pan a little above the direct source of the heat regularly. I find this prevents the kernels from burning, a common complaint about 'the old fashioned method'. The corn will stop popping in about the same length of time that it does in the microwave...about a minute and a half. Spray the popcorn liberally with cooking spray, and add 2 dessertspoons of caster sugar, and a half a teaspoon of salt, shaking and tossing well to coat the popcorn generously. Serve immediately.

2. Pan fried peppered cream cheese sandwiches

You'll need:

2 slices bread per person

Home brand lite cream cheese

Freshly ground pepper or freshly chopped herbs

Cooking spray

Spread one side of one slice of bread with cream cheese and top with the pepper or herbs. Heat a pan over a hotplate heated to high, spray the sandwich liberally with cooking spray on one side, and place it cooking spray side down, in the pan. Reduce the hotplate to medium and allow the bread to become golden and crisp. Spray the side of bread facing up with cooking spray, flip the sandwich and repeat. Serve immediately.

3. Batterless Apple Cake

You'll need:

1-2 apples per person

Cinnamon sugar (make this by mixing 1 cup of caster sugar with 1-2 teaspoons of Cinnamon combined well)

Cooking spray

Ramekins of ovenproof cups

Preheat the oven to 180C. Peel the apples and slice as thinly as possible. Lightly spray the cups or ramekins with cooking spray. Layer the apples, sprinkling every second layer or so with some of the Cinnamon Sugar. Fill the cups of ramekins to the brim and compress the apple well. Place on a tray and bake for 30-40 minutes until the apple is soft when pierced and is aromatic. Remove and allow to cool slightly, then upend on to serving plates or in bowls and top with Greek Yoghurt. I like to mix a little lemon zest through our yoghurt. The tartness of the lemon and yoghurt is perfect with the apple.

4. Protein Snack Bags

I posted this idea in the forum quite recently. This one really helps when you want to reach for a bag of chips or the cheese and crackers.

For four snack bags, you'll need:

Snack sized ziplock bags

1 chicken breast, poached as per my method here

500gms vegetables such as beans, snow peas, julienned zucchini or carrot and so on, steamed lightly retaining some crunch

1 lemon cut into wedges

Slice the chicken breast into slivers. Portion an equal amount of the steamed vegetables into each bag. Top with the chicken slivers. Add a lemon wedge. To eat, squeeze the lemon juice over the chicken and veg and enjoy straight from the bag. A great alternative to chippies!

There are more, which I'll add shortly, but I thought these were a good start.

Hope you like them too :)

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