April 22, 2009


You know how every now and then you can't quite get your act together to plan and prepare and shop for a nutritious meal, and so you think: "screw it, I'll just see what I've got in the fridge?" And so you pull out maybe some grapes and cheese and bread and a leftover chicken drumstick and maybe some cut-up vegetables and dip, and you take all these snacks and throw them on a plate and say, "voila: dinner!"

OK, maybe you don't. But I do, and to stretch the analogy reeaaaaly far, that's sort of what today's post is. I just have some random things to say about various foods, and rather than think and plan and come up with a coherent meal theme, I thought I'd just throw three unrelated food items out there on one plate page and say, "voila: Wednesday's post!"

Note: viewer discretion advised. One of the treats I will confess to eating will leave you SHOCKED and AMAZED that any health blogger, even one named Crabby McSlacker, could seriously recommend it.

The Curious Case of The Irresistible Almond Butter

So it wasn't that long ago that I wrote a post about portion control in which I mentioned I sometimes enjoy peanut butter or almond butter sandwiches. (With honey, bananas, and a big glass of milk).

And sure, I'd noticed I was starting to eat these sandwiches more frequently. I just assumed that, as happens with a lot of food items, my cravings were a "phase." I often go through periods when a certain food appeals to me a whole heck of a lot. I eat it like crazy, then... phhhhttt! I don't feel like it anymore for a long time.

But it's been months now that I've been totally obsessed with peanut butter and almond butter sandwiches! Well, I don't write poetry to them, or sneak out of bed at 2 am to have a rendezvous or anything. But I do seem to require one pretty much every day.

What is UP with that? Has a similar food obsession ever happened to anyone else? Is there a cure?

And it didn't help that a few weeks ago I got an email on behalf of Justin's Nut Butters saying: wanna try some samples of our portable peanut butter and almond butter squeeze packs? They come plain or in flavors.

Normally, in a non-nut-butter-obsessed time of my life, I'd remember that accepting free stuff to eat means I eventually have to write a review of said free stuff, which I never actually feel like doing. So I would have said no.

But, well, in a weak moment fueled by almond-butter-lust I said yes.

So these little portion controlled squeeze packs arrived, and they are indeed cute!

And they're convenient, especially if you're going somewhere where hauling an entire jar of peanut butter around might not be practical. The packs are also portion controlled--there are little 100 calorie packs and bigger 180 calorie ones.

As to the flavors, I have to admit I was skeptical. I thought: almond butter should come in one flavor, almond. But the Almond/Maple and the Honey/Peanut varieties? Both tasty! The maple, in particular, could have easily been gross and fakey and disgusting, but instead, it was subtle and pleasant and not overly sweet. The peanut butter also comes in cinnamon flavor, which seemed to me a really bad idea. Sure enough, I tried it, and for me--yuck. Those are two flavors that are both lovely, but not together. Others of you may be more open-minded about that.

Anyway, I give Justin and his Peanut and Almond Butter packs two sticky thumbs up!

Easy Tasty Guacamole Recipe

I love guacamole, and it's one of those foods that tastes too delicious to be good for you. It's like the Nutrition Gods weren't paying attention when they invented avocados: wait, these things have fiber and antioxidants and potassium and folate and oleic acid? They should be all stringy and gross and bitter! What were we thinking, how did they end up so yummy and creamy?

Anyway, the trick to easy and tasty guacamole: have access to good salsa.

If you can get a container of good fresh salsa from your grocery store deli or local Mexican place, the guacamole work is all done for you!

Just mash up avocados, and gradually add salsa and garlic salt until it it tastes wonderful.

You'd think you'd need fresh garlic (and it's probably better for you) but garlic salt seems to work just fine.

Note: this is eat-at-home guacamole; it turns brown pretty fast. If you want take-to-the-potluck guacamole, you might want to squeeze some lemon or lime in there too.

Dessert Fake-Out

Ever feel like just a little something sweet, but know that you need to be limiting the amount of sugar and butter and white flour and bad fats you eat?

There are, of course, virtuous ways to handle that dilemma: just say no. Or have fruit. Or eat some anti-oxidant-packed dark chocolate, the healthy 95% kind that tastes as bitter as 3 day old coffee grounds.

The whole 100 calorie pack industry exists for just this reason, for damage control, but somehow these never work for me--they're too small for 100 calories, and they remind me of my junky treats from my youth without actually tasting as good.

So my new cheat option, when it's not yet time for a real splurge? Tiny little vanilla mini-meringues from Trader Joes.

These things are so silly! Each one is only about the size of a peanut M&M. And there is nothing nutritionally "good" about them, other than that, to my knowledge, they don't contain poison. But they are only 1 calorie apiece. One calorie! Nothing with actual sugar in it is ever one calorie!

So with my immature toddler brain, quite easily fooled on matters of portion control, I can have like 25 or 30 sweet crunchy meringue thingies and feel like I've had "dessert." (Note: they must be eaten One at a Time to achieve this fake-out effect). Plus, if I have them along with a nice healthy cup of green tea, in my mind, the green tea virtue cancels out the tiny bit of meringue indulgence and it comes out even.

Anyone out there have any food obsessions, or any nifty snacks or treats you've discovered that you want to tell us about?


  1. I like those packets---husband LOVES them for travel.

    we all know my fave snack.


    (sorry vegetarians)

  2. WHAT is beef jerky?! yeeesh sounds MINGIN!

  3. Watching and Weighting..."what is beef jerky?" REALLY?

    My favorite 'cheating' snack is a sliced banana drizzled with some Hershey's chocolate syrup. Ok, not drizzled, slathered in... but really, it satisfies the chocolate need but fills me up because of the banana and that part is healthy, right?

    And, Crabby, you totally stole my favorite guac recipe. I don't even bother with the garlic though.

  4. I love Holly's bananas w/ chocolate syrup. But I tend to add a bit (?) of whipped cream from the can to mine. That brings up my current dessert obsession: frozen berries from Costco, slightly thawed, preferably in the microwave so they're a touch warm, with again a shot (or two or three) of whipped cream. The whipped cream can get out of hand...

  5. Never tried any nut butter besides peanutbutter. Alwas want to, but too cheap to spend that much on something I don't know if I'll like or not.

    Love, love, love guacamole. Need the fresh garlic though, but I'm a garlic fiend.

    Home made beef jerky...yummmmmmy.

  6. I LOVE mini merengues!!! Sooo yummmmmmy!

    I like to mix a little bit of peanut butter with a little bit of cool whip and eat with...well usually I just end up eating it with a spoon, but I suppose you could eat it with graham crackers or something like that.

  7. I love nut butter too! Although cashew butter is my fave. I eat some every day. The snack packs sound awesome. And I heart Trader Joe's! They have the BEST snack food. Now, if only there were one within 100 miles of me...

  8. (potato chips) food (potato chips) obsession? (potato chips).... what (potato chips) food (potato chips) obsession? (potato chips)

  9. I make my guac with fresh garlic and cumin.. that's it! Don't think it really needs anything else. Althuogh I've been known to eat avocado out of the skin with a spoon for lunch. So delicious! :)

    And I've got a slice of whole grain bread, natural peanut butter (tastes so much better than the fake stuff, IMO) and a big ol banana waiting for me at lunch! :)

  10. I will eat any protein bar that tastes like a candy bar. Especially if they taste like a reese's peanut butter cup.

  11. We keep tortilla chips in the house (to keep me away from potato chips) and plenty of salsa, as it is considered a vegetable by some US department that looks after food. Sorry, can't think of the name. But I remember reading it and it pertained to school lunch programs. Said chips are a Virtuous Food if hummus is used as a dip, too.
    I am currently on a kick where I blend banana, some dark chocolate from the writing chocolate stash, and a non-dairy milk substitute. Makes great chocolate milk or heat for hot chocolate. I suspect it would freeze for a substitute ice cream. Frozen bananas make it a reasonable milk shake.

  12. I go through those food phases as well. A while back it was smoked salmon. It had to be a particular smoked salmon that is only available from one place. I would eat it every single. The cats also enjoyed this phase, as they would get to share my treat. Then suddenly I'm done. Not that I no longer like it, but the compulsion to eat it every day wears off.

    At the moment I think I am obsession free, but not doubt something else will come along...

  13. oOOOO I had a smoked salmon obsession too. My cat gained about 2 pounds during it.

    You can make your own nut butter. Just throw the nuts into a food processor and blend until you think the food processor is going to explode. Then turn it off, wait, and blend again.

    I keep trying this on different types of nuts thinking that I might finally find a nut butter I enjoy eating, but to no avail. I just don't like the texture. Like...slimy powder or something.

  14. I'm trying to figure out Leah's comment about how "chips can be a virtuous food." Does that mean these chips work hard, go to bed early, and don't hang around with chips from the Wrong Side of the grocery aisle? :)

  15. Love the photo, kiwis, strawbs, starfruit, but what are the white thingies? Marshmallows??? eh??

  16. I'm way too afraid of trying almond butter fearing it would be yet another food I'd fall in love with and have to restrict to deep mood swings and dark stormy nights.

    As to any other snacks I crave on an almost obsessive level? Hmmm - too many to list but chocolate and almond ice cream is way up there. As the laws of nature would dictate, no suitable substitute has ever been found.

  17. I just bought a few of those packs of almond butter at Great Harvest Bread Store by my office.

    I agree, I definitely need the portion control.

    AND, I wouldn't worry about your sammie obssession, if you like it, why not have one every day!! Lifes too short!

  18. Great post... I have to admit I am quite the snacker. never ssaw those pb packets they are too cute!

  19. I eat PB on toast pretty much every morning for breaksfast. I've been known to exist on PB with crackers or on bread for days at a time & figure it's the one food I'd want to have with me if stranded on a deserted island. My latest indulgence is skinny cow ice cream sandwiches. They're huge, only 140 calories, & tasty (not so much a fan of the all chocolate ones). A little high on the sugars if you're watching that. Also, some of the store brands of cheezit-type crackers are lower in fat & sodium than the originals & satisfy that need for crunch & salt!

  20. I'm currently hooked on tahini and honey and bananas on toast. Yum. I too am the queen of "hey what's in the fridge" meals...

    I've tried to find almond butter out here in boonytown and haven't yet.

    As far as dessert goes, I've taken to making little fruit smoothies really thick and spooning them as dessert. Yum. That and sugar free jello. I loves me my jello :)

    ANd I have a recipe for the BEST guacamole ever. Ever. Ever. It's on my food blog if anyon wants to try it out. ..

  21. There are way too many items that fit in this category. I found the only safe way to live among food obsession items was to order the Hannibal Lecter face apprentice and have my hands and feet securely bound to an upright furniture dolly. The only hard part of this extreme measure is getting my wife to agree to untie me.

  22. Where the heck can you get those little packets? I have never seen them before-they look so cute AND perfect for my fave snack - grannie smith apples with peanut butter..mmm mmm mmmmm!

  23. The only thing that made me abandon my peanut butter obsession was almond butter. And the only thing that got me out of my almond butter rut was sunflower seed butter. I'm still on that one. Daily.

    I definitely understand your merengue thing. With sweets I'm kind of like an ex-smoker who cares less about the nicotine cravings than the nostalgic act of holding a cigarette-- I just like to be able to pop things into my mouth. I'll try these. But I'm hoping they come in chocolate.

  24. Peanut butter is like coffee--every day is a normal intake. (Flavored nut butters? for the weird!)

    I only eat guacamole when somebody else makes it. Oh, I miss having a roommate who does that!

    One calorie meringues? I'd eat those even though I'm not that fond of meringues. I'll eat anything Cute.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  25. Kashi stoneground 7 grain crackers + Sabra hot pepper hummus = mouth orgasm

    Of course, adding some of that guacamole would be divine.

    Trader Joe's Chipotle Hummus with rice thin crackers are also pretty kickass. Plus, that would give me an excuse to try these little meringues of which you speak.

    *sighs dreamily*

  26. One of my favorite snacks? I start with a fresh thing of pudding, before it sets and pour about a half cup over about half of a chopped up banana then drop a spoonful of whipped cream on top and put in the refrigerator until it sets. Well, sometimes I can't actually be that patient and end up eating it while it's still kinda runny. hah. It's delicious and tastes completely indulgent but it's really not so evil.

  27. You folks are making me totally hungry with these awesome snack suggestions!

    None of them are too evil, and some are downright healthy!

  28. I bribe myself out of bed at 5 AM with pb & honey sandwiches. That is a big part of how I get to the gym in the morning.

    My favorite snack, tiresomely, is dried fruit. I buy the mixed kind in the bulk section of my farmstand store- it has nectarines, pears, apples, apricots and prunes. But I am a rebel, and so I get the kind with added sulfites! Also because unsulfited dried fruit is...unappealing.

  29. skippy natural peanut butter. by the spoonful. it's a dangerous habit.

  30. my favorite dessert fake-out is a packet of original instant oatmeal mixed with a no-sugar added milk chocolate carnation instant breakfast packet (which contains tons of essential nutrients) and a spoonful of natural peanut butter... it's thick, creamy and filling and surprisingly nutritious... it also tastes exactly like a chocolate peanut butter oatmeal cookie

  31. Greek olives are an awesome snack.

    And I can even feel a little virtuous, because technically, olives are fruit.

  32. I LOVE LOVE LOVE bread! I toast it & eat it dry & I buy all good 100% whole grain, mixed grain breads like Ezekiel bread & Trader Joe's has a bunch a good ones. Costco even has some great choices. I have like 3-4 different types in the house, keep most frozen so I have my pick & have constant variety!

    I also love my power peanut butter! Has extra protein & flax in it. I need that almost every day.

    My night snack are these Costco organic animal crackers but they are actually little animal cookies & you get 13 "crackers" per serving!

  33. I MUST find those packets! It's as if they were made just for me! Love me some almond butter.

  34. Almond butter is great, and good for you. Also suspiciously addictive, I couldn't get enough of that stuff. Trader joes sells for a good price! And if you need something else to do with your food, check out www.veeda.tumblr.com

  35. Current loves:
    - Non-fat Greek style yogurt with fruit.
    - Nuts and nut butters. Especially pistachios for the nuts; love almonds and peanuts in both forms.
    - Sweetriot chocolate-covered cocoa nibs. They look somewhat like hamster droppings, but are intensely chocolatey and only 1-2 calories per piece.
    - Low-carb tortilla and then spreading it with peanut butter and sugar-free maple syrup. Tasty!
    - Low fat or fat-free refried beans with a little sharp cheddar cheese=comfort food.

  36. I KNEW I shouldn't start reading blogs while I'm hungry... mmmm. I have the exact same peanut/almond butter love as you. I need to get me some of those little packets; my portion control is zilch when it comes to nut butters :)

    I wonder if my boss will notice if I sneak out of work, run to the store for almond butter + a spoon, and then come back and crouch behind my desk eating it from the jar? Tempted.

  37. Ahh...never tried garlic in guacamole. Sounds yummy. Will try.

  38. Two words: hazelnut butter.

    It will cost you a crapload of money at Whole Foods, but it is SO. WORTH IT. (Especially if you add chocolate! Then it's like Nutella! Um. Might be slightly less healthy then, though. ;D)

  39. lately, strawberries and whipped cream. mmmmmmm.

    other than that ... i don't know. my latest addictions are bad, bad pastries from starbucks. apple fritters (i know!, i know ... *sigh*) and the "reduced-fat" cinnamon-swirl coffee cake. SO GOOD.

    i like pastries; i can't help it. mmmm, doughnuts ...

  40. Can I get those almond butter packets in Canada??? Need to get me some, for sure! Love Almond butter slathered on a banana. And great post-run recovery snack.

    My fake-out dessert is cereal. Nature's Path Pomegranate with cherries topped with brown rice milk. Sweet, healthy and filling. But that's when I'm feeling reasonable and rational, otherwise it's a half-tub of ice cream...sigh.

  41. I needed one of those little handy PB packets this morning when I was weighing the options between banana with or without PB-- I finally decided I didn't want to lug the brand-new jar of PB to work...! =(

    Some of my favorite sweet little snacks (that make me think I'm having "dessert" for not so many calories or sugar grams):

    cinnamon graham crackers dipped in milk

    do-it-yourself-smores: 1 sheet of cinn graham crackers, a little marshmallow creme, and two or three Nestle choc chips on top, nuked for 11 seconds (and sometimes I add a thin layer of PB under the mallow creme!)

    Sugar-free choc (or DOUBLE choc) Snak Paks, eaten with an hors d'oeuvres spoon to trick my brain! =)

  42. My healthy snack is Ezekiel bread spread with peanut butter, sliced banana, a small smear of Nutella and a sprinkle of cinnamon and a sprinkle of walnuts, then quick-fired in the panini maker. This is a dessert fit for a big snacker. It's partially healthy so if I eat it I don't feel guilty. Sometimes I have this instead of dinner (and brownies and chocolate and cake and Hostess pies and cookies and candy and sweet rolls and anything from Costco and ice cream and See's Candies and those types of snacks.)

  43. Beef jerky is beef that's been handled by a 12-16 year old boy.

  44. Those sound like some great recipes. Do you happen to know the calorie and nutrition content?

  45. Hey! I'm new to your blog, just read this post, and had to comment! I totally feel you on the almond butter obsession! I don't know what it is about that gooey paste of nut heaven, but it can drive a woman to hoard her money for the "a.b. fund" (had to give it a code name so others wouldn't know how obsessed I am...)
    In regards to guacamole -- this here is my *fave* recipe: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Guacamole/Detail.aspx I modify it a bit by only using one tomato but let me tell, it's pure green bliss.
    About the dessert -- omg! You're going to have to check out my blog coming tomorrow about this new dish I tried. it's so easy, healthy and amazing!
    Alright, i've written a novel. your blog rocks, seriously! added it to my reader :)


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