One Handed Wonders: Handy Bites for Busy Days and Nights
By Therese San Diego
With a fast-paced lifestyle and tight schedules, it can be a challenge not to succumb to fast food and junk—the most accessible types of one handed food around.
While I am guilty of loading up on cookies and chips at work especially during crunch time (pardon the pun), I’ve learned to prepare well-balanced munchies that are just as easy to eat when beating deadlines.
The French Fry Alternative: Butter-Fried Potatoes with Basil
This little side dish or snack may be fried—in butter, at that—but hey, at least there’s nothing artificial about these ingredients.
Peel and slice potatoes to your preferred size and soak in water for an hour. Pat them dry with a paper towel before frying in butter. Once they’re nice and brown, toss them in salt and freshly chopped or dried basil. It’ll be difficult to resist a few bites before throwing them into your lunch bag!
All-Natural Microwave Popcorn
How can microwave popcorn be “all-natural”? Well, I’m certainly not referring to the flavored packs of ready-to-pop microwaveable kernels.
This technique is so simple, and it’s posted all over the internet, but I didn’t have the guts to try it until our trusty hot air popper gasped its final breath. I loved how it didn’t require oil to make popcorn, and I learned that I could actually do the same thing with a brown bag and a microwave.
Place half a cup of plain popcorn kernels in a clean brown bag. Fold the bag over three or four times and sharply crease the fold with your fingers. Put the bag in the microwave and set for three minutes on high.
To prevent burnt popcorn, here are two pointers I learned from experience:
1. Do not set the microwave on high for more than three minutes.
2. Make sure the brown bag is small enough to fit in the microwave and won’t keep the turntable plate from rotating. Remember: the plate must rotate!
Tomato Basil Bruschettas
I prefer bruschettas and open-faced sandwiches because I enjoy having the flavors of the filling immediately bursting in my mouth at first bite, before sinking my teeth into the bread. Another reason is I tend to go overboard with the filling, no matter how simple it is, like my favorite tomato basil pairing.
There are different ways to make this bruschetta, but here’s my quick, no-fail prep process:
In a pan, put some butter or EVOO (your choice!) over medium-high heat and add minced garlic. Lightly brown them and add chopped tomatoes, salt and pepper. Cook tomatoes until soft. Pour the mixture into a bowl and set aside.
Cut a baguette diagonally for longer slices. Brown them in butter or EVOO (your choice again!) in a pan. Once they’re done, top each slice with the tomato mixture.
If you’re taking your bruschettas to work and the office pantry has an oven toaster, you can just toast the bread slices there. Don’t forget to bring some butter or EVOO for drizzling.
Olives and Mushrooms in Sweet Balsamic Vinaigrette
You’re going to need a fork, spoon or spork for this, but it’s probably the easiest salad to make and eat! And in terms of flavor, I believe it can beat some of the most chock full of salads.
Simply toss pitted green olives and button mushrooms together. For the vinaigrette, balsamic vinegar and EVOO can already do the trick, but I like making mine a little sweet. You can easily do this by adding some honey, salt and pepper to balance off the sharp tang of the vinegar. To finish, sprinkle dried basil and some almond slivers for more texture and flavor.
Trade in those greasy, salty peanuts for greaseless, unsalted nuts like almonds, walnuts, or cashews. Nibble away minus the guilt.
Oh, but how can we deal with that all too familiar longing for irresistible, addictive crisp potato chips?
Baked chips can satisfy that crunch craving. Make them even tastier with delicious homemade dips like tomato salsa or guacamole. Some of my recent favorites are the pumpkin chips and tofu chips from French-Asian bakery Tous les Jours. Find the list of branches on www.tlj.ph.
I know there are quite a number of carb-laden items in this list, but they still make for healthier alternatives to burger joint takeaways and artificially flavored, preservative-packed snacks. Enjoy!