You guys, I made Wheat Thins and fake Lara Bars this weekend! I actually baked without making a huge disaster. Not even a small disaster. And I cleaned up the kitchen too.
When I decided to live plastic-free, I had to give up energy bars, crackers, and most processed snack foods. Other plastic-free bloggers have found themselves with the same dilemma: how to munch without the plastic, as well as the additives that come in those crunchy snacks.
Well, my blogger friend Katie from Kitchen Stewardship has published a whole e-Book called Healthy Snacks to Go and sent me a copy to review. What I love about this book is that most of the snack ideas can be made plastic-free.
Katie’s recipes are very, very easy to understand even for someone like me who is phobic about baking after an early pita bread fiasco left me covered in flour with nothing to show for my efforts but a bunch of tooth-breaking frisbees. Each recipe in the book is labeled with icons indicating features of that snack, such as whether there are certain allergens in it, how expensive it is to make, and how much work is required. The Power Bars I made (actually Power Balls) were “medium intensity” and the Wheat Thins are labeled “hard.” But honestly, if I could make them, how hard can they actually be???
Homemade “Power Bar” Balls
The ingredients for the Power Bars can be rolled out into bars or rolled up into balls. Balls are way easier for me, so that’s what I chose. There are 14 different Power Bar recipes in the book. Here are the ingredients for the one I decided to make. It’s a modified version of Katie’s Basic Date and Nut Bars using only ingredients I already had in the house:
1) Almonds from the Whole Foods bulk bin
2) Dates from Whole Foods bulk bin
3) Coconut from Whole Foods bulk bin
4) Cocoa Powder from Whole Foods bulk bin
5) Spectrum Organic Coconut Oil in glass jar (There is plastic inside the jar lid.)
6) Frontier Organic Fair Trade Vanilla in Glass bottle. Unfortunately, the cap and label are both plastic.
7) Tiny bit of maple syrup from Whole Foods bulk container (not shown). That ingredient was not part of Katie’s original recipe, but my sweet tooth required just a little extra sugar. :-)
I purchased all the bulk items using my own reusable bags and containers. And here is the result:
These balls were so delicious I had to restrain myself from eating them all at one time.
Homemade “Wheat Thins”
I just couldn’t believe I would be able to make crackers that actually tasted and crunched and stayed together like storebought crackers. But I had to give this recipe a try because I used to love Wheat Thins, which I don’t buy anymore because of the plastic bag (inside the box) treated with BHT, a preservative suspected to cause cancer.
Here are the resulting “Wheat Thins” and the ingredients I used to make them:
1) Whole Wheat Flour from Whole Foods bulk bin
2) Salt (from cardboard box)
3) Organic Sugar (from Whole Foods bulk bin) but another sweetener could be used
4) Paprika, which came from a plastic bottle that I’ve had for over three years. Once this is gone, I’ll be able to switch to bulk paprika from Whole Foods.
5) Spectrum Organic Coconut Oil in glass jar.
6) Frontier Organic Fair Trade Vanilla in glass jar (with plastic cap and label)
7) Tap Water
Katie’s recipe actually calls for cold butter, but I didn’t have butter in the house because I am, as Alicia Silverstone calls it, “flirting” with veganism. And Katie assured me that coconut oil can pretty much always be substituted for butter in recipes. In this case, she was right! I also sprinkled grated cheese on the tops of a few of the crackers before baking them because I am still working on that huge 12-pound wheel of cheese I wrote about last year, and because I am only “flirting” with veganism.
Katie’s recipe suggests using parchment paper, but I rolled out and baked mine right on a lightly greased stainless steel cookie sheet, and they came out just fine. They did not stick. They crunch like real crackers and taste much better than actual Wheat Thins. I used them to scoop up fresh hummus (the other ingredient in the photo above.) And you know what? Even though I had to bake and use a rolling pin and get flour all over the kitchen counters and myself and the floor, I would do it again!
In addition to the recipes, the book includes a handy list of snacks that are so easy and obvious that they don’t even require a recipe, and yet many of us forget about them when scrounging for something to eat. But what really rocks my world is Katie’s list of strategies for “Reduced Waste Healthy Lunch Packing” at the back of the book. Not everyone who buys Katie’s book is thinking about reducing waste. They just want yummy snacks with whole ingredients. Well, packaging is an ingredient too, and Katie wants to remind people of that.
Healthy Snacks To Go GiveAway
To win a copy of the e-Book Healthy Snacks to Go, please mosey on over to Katie’s page and check out the table of contents. Then, come back here and leave a comment with the recipe that interests you the most. You can also leave a comment here about what commercial snacks you’d love to find plastic-free replacements for.
06/22/2010 Update: the winner of the Healthy Snacks to Go eBook is Elizabeth Brunner.
Don’t know how to use an e-Book? Don’t worry. Katie’s book has instructions for that too!
Disclosure: Katie provided me a review copy of the book for free and has also enrolled me in her affiliate program so Fake Plastic Fish earns a small percentage from sales generated through links on this site. And since I still have to purchase my plane ticket to the BlogHer conference in August where I’m scheduled to give a presentation on how bloggers can move their readers to social action, every little bit helps.