Tag Archives: parfait

Snack Wisdom: Travel Foods

Gentle Readers, the irony of this post and timing is noted. Just this past week, while traveling, I almost ran out of snacks. While this may fall squarely in #firstworldproblems territory, I am notoriously cranky when hungry. I eat. I eat often. When I crash, it is hard and fast.

Snacktime Smackdown: Peanut M&M's vs Peanut Butter M&M's

Snacktime Smackdown: Peanut M&M’s vs Peanut Butter M&M’s

Thank goodness my friends know me, and one had just given me a piece of chocolate from Turin, which was still in my purse. The day was saved. TPCs Jr literally fell silent while I ate it, much like I had just seen a dementor and was receiving the cure from Honeyduke’s.

So how does one avoid such a crisis? First, don’t clean out your purse, and carry one. Barring that, here are some tips.

Snack Wisdom: Travel Foods

1. Hoard plane snacks. If they give you two packages, don’t eat them both unless you are starving. These snacks are small, unobtrusive, and right sized for emergencies. Spend them wisely.

Two packages of these Biscoff cookies are like gold in the travel bag.

Two packages of these Biscoff cookies are like gold in the travel bag.

2. Dry cereal. I can’t emphasize how useful this is. It works as breakfast for hungry Jrs on the go, and feels a little familiar in a strange situation. Pour it in zipper bags and go. What could be easier? I recommend any square cereal–they travel well and taste pretty good dry. Cheerios and round cereals are my second choice. Or create a nice blend.

Trader Joe's Chocolate Almond Granola plus Oatmeal Squares, a morning blend.

Trader Joe’s Chocolate Almond Granola plus Oatmeal Squares, a morning blend.

3. Granola bars. I’m currently completely obsessed with the Trader Joe’s Almond Bars, and we’ve blown through a container each time we have traveled. They also work well as a light breakfast, and they have both “fast” and “long” energy–you’ll feel full for a while, but you get an immediate sugar jolt, too.

Trader Joe's Five Seed Almond Bars, How I Love Thee.

Trader Joe’s Five Seed Almond Bars, How I Love Thee.

4. Parfait FTW. Though there are plenty of junky options, so many kiosks sell parfaits now. I like them because they are big enough to share, pack some nutritional punch, and they are portable. A great choice to take on the plane or take a break at the amusement park. Make them at home and you’ll have a comfort snack that’s familiar on a trip.

Mango and Blackberry Parfait (not quite a recipe, but lovely nonetheless)

Mango and Blackberry Parfait (not quite a recipe, but lovely nonetheless)

5. Peanut M & M’s. When the chips are down, this is my go-to snack. Chocolate and peanuts, it’s like a candy-coated version of the trail mix I typical carry with me. Widely available, shareable sizes, easy distribution. This is the snack that wins friends.

Don't leave home without Peanut M & M's.

Don’t leave home without Peanut M & M’s.

What are your snacks on the go? Post a comment here, or Tweet my way! All snack ideas welcome.

Send your chocolates, good ideas, and Pinkberry punch cards to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today! Also, follow the food pictures on Instagram @amylewi.)

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Cereal in Review: Chocolate Almond Granola from Trader Joe’s

Gentle Readers, it is time to meet your new addiction. Perhaps you think you’ve outgrown the sugary cereals of yore (great recap of dead cereals here). Maybe you only watch cartoons streaming now. It’s time to think outside the bowl. Meet Chocolate Almond Granola from Trader Joe’s.

My current cereal addiction: Chocolate Almond Granola from Trader Joe's

My current cereal addiction: Chocolate Almond Granola from Trader Joe’s

If you can’t find it, assume I bought all of the boxes in your location.

It’s both that delicious and extremely multipurpose. Dry, it’s like the best crumbled up dark chocolate oat granola bar you could imagine.

Bananas plus Maraschino cherries and walnuts? I say yes.

Bananas plus Maraschino cherries and walnuts? I say yes.

Paired with fruit (I’ve tried strawberries, cherries, and bananas) and plain yogurt, Chocolate Almond Granola is the pair of snakeskin shoes to the favorite black t-shirt and jeans. It just adds that something something.

Sliced strawberries with yogurt and a sprinkle of chocolate granola? Afternoon just got a whole lot more interesting.

Sliced strawberries with yogurt and a sprinkle of chocolate granola? Afternoon just got a whole lot more interesting.

It’s not overly sweet, relying more on cocoa powder than sugar, and the balance of crunch and almond, with enough fat to hold it together, it’s just amazing. As a cereal with milk, TPCs Junior favor a blend. This one features Oatmeal Squares.

Trader Joe's Chocolate Almond Granola plus Oatmeal Squares, a morning blend.

Trader Joe’s Chocolate Almond Granola plus Oatmeal Squares, a morning blend.

Cocoa Krispies and Cocoa Puffs hang their heads in shame near this venerable box. Yes, the milk still turns chocolatey, but you don’t get the mouth film effect. And it’s granola, it has to be healthy, right?

A Pyramid of Sugar Cereals

A Pyramid of Sugar Cereals

This is a multiple box buy situation. I’ll wait for your ingenuity in terms of application. You’re welcome. (Feel free to post your best combos in the comments section or on Twitter!)

Send milk, cartoons, and extra Saturday mornings to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today! Also, follow the food pictures on Instagram @amylewi.)

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Filed under One Ingredient Three Ways

Food Presentation: Going Vertical

Today we are going to go into one of the key aspects of cooking—presentation. Do a quick search for “eat with your eyes” and you’ll find the Practical Cook is not a lone voice shouting in the dark on this one. The food can be very simple, but good presentation can be the difference between acceptance and compost. Color and neatness count, of course, but the easiest trick—go vertical.

Recall the last time you went to a nice dinner. Very likely at least one of your dishes was “composed” in some way. Observe, a very simple salad, but tall. It’s a wedge of iceberg lettuce, sprinkled with diced avocado, facon, and a little ranch dressing. (Sidenote: The Practical Cook read a review that said Kraft Ranch was the ranchiest ranch, and purchased some. My kids agree. I’m not a ranch fan, preferring oil-based dressings as a rule, and greatly preferring to make my own, but some battles are not worth waging at this time.)

Wedge Salad Update

Wedge Salad Update

Serving carrot and celery sticks with ranch or hummus? Stick them in a glass, a ramekin, etc., and call them fries.

Carrots and Celery Gone Vertical

Carrots and Celery Gone Vertical

The tallest food the Practical Cook presents goes simply by the name of parfait. Butter—Parfait. (C’mon, you were thinking it.)

Parfait

Parfait

The basic ingredients are plain low-fat yogurt, fruit, something crunchy, something sweet. Layer and present in a nice glass. The one seen here is yogurt, blackberries and strawberries, crushed up Trader Joe’s vanilla wafers (I specify, because those things put the “Nilla” variety I grew up with in the shade), and a drizzle of honey.

Parfait Guidelines (because I can’t in good faith call this one a recipe)

The Base: plain low-fat yogurt, plain Greek yogurt (Seriously, read the label on the flavored yogurts. For that much sugar, I’ll take a Krispy Kreme Original Glazed, Hot Now please.)

The Fruit: berries of all kinds, fresh or frozen; bananas; mango; peaches (in season, in the freezer, in a can, it all works); jam, jelly, preserves including apple butter (simply omit the sweet part)

The Crunchy: Grape-Nuts; granola; crunched up gingersnaps, vanilla wafers, graham crackers; other cereal you have small bits left of; chopped toasted nuts

The Sweet: dash of honey, maple syrup, cinnamon

Have your helper help you compose this. They can taste the components as they go. This is the #1 requested snack based on a bath-time poll taken this evening with a random sampling of my children and a margin of error of two. And honestly, the Practical Cook openly admits to making a spare for herself. Parfaits taste good.

Tune in tomorrow for Vegetable Marketing 101. If only cauliflower came with a free prize inside!

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