This past March, at the Natural Foods Expo in Anaheim, California, I discovered a bounty of great-tasting, healthy snacks that are showing up on store shelves this summer. As I promised you then, I want to share some of the best ones with you. Chips—in crunchy, toasty triangles and squares—got a lot of attention from health-food producers this season, with fruit bars and fruit coming a close second in their health appeal.
Kale, that super green leaf with so many antioxidant vitamins and minerals, has been dehydrated and turned into kale chips by more than one company. Truth be told, you can chop and dehydrate kale at home in your own oven on the lowest temperature for a few hours, or in a home dehydrator, and make these shatteringly good snacks yourself. But the packaged kale chips have added flavors that make them fun to eat. The kale leaves are tossed with sauces before dehydrating.
RhythmSuperfoods(www.rhythmsuperfoods.com/kale-chips) makes kale chips in five flavors: Zesty Nacho, Kool Ranch, Bombay Curry, Mango Habanero, and Texas BBQ. The Zesty Nacho chips taste cheesy but have no actual dairy in them. The secret is in the tahini sauce and carrot powder. Freshly Wild (www.freshlywild.com) makes Kale Joy in three flavors: Original Recipe, Must Eat Mesquite, and Jazzy Sweet Mustard. The Original Recipe flavor is a blend of lemon juice, nuts, and sea salt.
Chips made from mashed beans, sprouted blue corn, and flaxseeds are also very healthy alternatives to deep-fried potato or corn chips. Beanfields Snacks (www.beanfieldssnacks.com) makes delicious chips out of cooked and mashed beans and long-grain rice in Nacho, Pico de Gallo, and Sea Salt flavors. These chips are satisfying because they have protein in them, not just carbs. And they’re free of preservatives, trans-fats, corn, GMO crops, and even gluten.
The Simply Sprouted Tortilla Chips line from Way Better Snacks (www.gowaybetter.com) are loaded with chia seeds, broccoli seeds, daikon radish seeds, and quinoa for super antioxidant power. All of the whole grains are sprouted. Sprouting—sometimes called germinating—creates enzymes that make the seeds easier to digest. It also maximizes a seed’s nutrient density. These sprouted chips come in a nice range of flavors, such as Sweet Potato, Black Bean, Sweet Chili, and Blue Corn, depending on the ingredients added. They taste every bit as good, if not better than, traditional tortilla chips.
Alison Levitt, M.D., a holistic medical doctor, created Flackers (www.drinthekitchen.com) flaxseed crackers for her patients. She sprouts the flaxseeds to increase the bioavailability of their nutrients, then dehydrates them at low temperatures to preserve the Omega-3 fatty acids that are so good for you. The seeds are then spread out with soy protein into small, thin squares and dotted with organic herbs such as rosemary or dill.
You can enjoy all of these chips and crackers with my Moringa Dip, made with nutritious leaves from the moringa plant, available in my cookbook, FoodTrients: Age-Defying Recipes for a Sustainable Life.
Chia seeds are high in protein and fiber. They lower cholesterol and even blood sugar. A company called Get Chia (www.getchia.com) has rolled these super seeds into fruit leathers for a new twist on a fruit roll-up. All of the FruitChia bars are apple-based with no added sugar. Fruits from the Pacific Northwest are added to create four different flavors: Strawberry Blast, Cranberry Blast, Blueberry Blast, and Raspberry Blast.
Fruit has not only been dehydrated for sweet snacking, it has also been freeze-dried. Crunchies (www.crunchiesfood.com) freeze-dries fruits and packages them without any additives. They’re the healthiest version yet of astronaut food, such as freeze-dried ice cream, that was invented in the late 1960s for the Apollo space missions. Eating Crunchies is not quite as delicious or satisfying as eating fresh fruit, but they are handy when and where there is no refrigeration. You know, somewhere like outer space, or on a hiking trail, or even in the car.
Chips and crackers made with flaxseeds, chia seeds, quinoa, and kale are a great way to incorporate these super foods into your diet. And it’s simple to use them in cooking, too. I’ve included some very easy recipes in my cookbook, FoodTrients: Age-Defying Recipes for a Sustainable Life: Quinoa Tabbouleh on Pita, Potato Kale Soup, Meatloaf with Flaxseed, and Chia Seed Treat.