How to Keep the Crunch in Your Life by Caron Golden

Has your dietary downfall been chips, pretzels, or cheese puffs? Oh, the pain of limiting these. We get it. You need to feel the crunch.

How to Keep the Crunch in Your Life But even as you eat less of these fatty, salty foods, there’s good news. Changing your diet doesn’t have to lead to a crunch-less snack time. Here are some suggestions for great substitutions:
  • Popcorn. Who doesn’t love popcorn? Surprise, it’s actually healthy for you (whole grain and all) and it’s a good source of fiber. Because of the volume, it’s also low in carbs. Just 15 grams in three cups. Choose air-popped popcorn to avoid the fat and limit fatty, salty toppings. Enjoy, but avoid excessive portion sizes. And try some non-fat toppings, like chili powder, cinnamon, curry powder, or dried herbs mixed with a little olive oil.
  • Nuts. You get crunch and good health with this superfood! To make your own style of savory nuts, toss a cup of raw, unsalted nuts with a teaspoon of olive oil and seasonings you like—such as garlic, curry, chili, or others. To roast nuts, mix in just a pinch of salt and spread in a single layer on a sheet pan. (For sweet nuts, toss nuts with canola oil and season with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and/or cardamom and a little stevia or maple syrup.) Roast for 10 to 15 minutes. Because of the fat in nuts, limit your serving size to a small handful (about 1.5 ounces).
  • Kale and Swiss chard chips. Here’s a way to have your greens and get your crunch. Preheat your oven to 275 degrees F. Wash and thoroughly dry the greens. Strip leaves from the tough ribs and roughly chop them. Toss with a little olive oil (a mister that sprays the oil is great for this), salt, and pepper—and maybe some of your favorite herbs or spices. Spread out on a baking sheet and bake until crisp.
  • Baked corn tortilla chips. Get rid of a lot of fat while still keeping the crunch. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Brush the tortillas with canola oil and cut them into six pieces. Spread them in a single layer on a sheet pan, then sprinkle with a little salt (and chili powder if you like). Bake until golden brown and crisp—about 12 to 14 minutes. Serve with salsa.
  • Crispy chickpeas (garbanzo beans). Here’s a great fiber-filled option that’s easy to prepare using canned beans. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Drain and rinse a can of chickpeas, then dry thoroughly. Rub them to remove the skins. Toss with a tablespoon of olive oil and a teaspoon of your favorite herbs and spices, and lay them single layer on a sheet pan. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until your chickpeas are dried and crisp, but not burnt.
  • Sweet potato chips. The trick with getting the crunch into these chips is to slice them super thin with a mandolin, or as thin as you can with a knife. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Toss the slices with olive oil and a little salt, also adding some seasoning to your taste. Lay them in a single layer on a sheet pan and bake 25 to 30 minutes until crisp. (Try this with other veggies like radishes, plantain, beets, eggplant, carrots, taro, parsnip, and zucchini, too.)

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