There are a lot of things about my life that have changed since I became a parent. I now consistently go to bed while it’s still light out. I do adult things like pay for life insurance. Each room of my house is littered with toys. And my diet has totally changed. I definitely didn’t foresee such a huge shift in what I ate back when I was prepping for parenthood.
There are a number of reasons why the change happened. First of all, obviously, my time is limited. And a lot of that limited time is spent holding a baby, which means I no longer have two free hands to cook and eat food with the wild abandon I once had. Secondly, we discovered a few months back that my JuneBug has a milk and soy protein intolerance, meaning I’ve cut out all soy and dairy from my diet. Thankfully, most kids grow out of the intolerance within the first year, and I’ll eventually be able to drown myself in cheese again, but for now, my diet is limited. The two things combined mean my diet is drastically different from what I was eating pre-baby.
And let me tell you, this combination isn’t very conducive to healthy eating. More of my diet than I like to admit is made up of granola bars (I have a specific brand and variety that I know is soy- and diary-free) and trail mix. There is absolutely nothing wrong with either, but when they make up a large portion of your daily calorie intake, it’s not a very balanced way of eating. And I’m feeling it. The sugar overload has me feeling completely run down (well, that and having a four-month old).
I decided this past week I was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, and decided to (a) complain about it on the internet for the whole world to see and (b) do something to fix it. So I headed to the kitchen and powered through a bunch of cooking in order to whip myself up some new mom friendly foods. Healthy, fast, not packed with sugar, soy or daiy, and preferably easy to eat with one hand. The first of my Mommy munchies are these super tasty quinoa patties.
These are like little health food superstars wrapped up in an easy grab-and-go package. They are a source of complete, vegetarian protein (thanks to the quinoa), they are packed with nutrients because of the carrots and spinach. They are both filling and nourishing. And, if you think all of this sounds like a recipe for tastebud boredom, you’ll be happy to know that these patties are incredibly flavorful. I was so impressed with the explosive flavor of these guys.
I’ve been eating them straight out of the fridge (see previous note about lack of time), but you can also top them with sour cream, tzatziki, hummus to add a bit more punch. These patties are so versatile! Crumble them onto a salad. Eat them as a side dish for dinner. Form them into bigger patties for a veggie burger substitute. Pack them into a lunch. Freeze them up for later eating. It may seem like this recipe makes a ton, but I promise you’ll find a way to use them—and then wish you’d doubled the recipe.
I cooked these up by pan-frying them in a touch of avocado oil (it has a nice high smoke point), which made them crispy and crunchy, but if you want to be mega-healthy, you could also bake them in a medium oven for 15-20 minutes until they are golden brown. Personally, I feel like pan-frying quinoa and spinach is the picture of balance. Life is too short to eat your quinoa baked. Or something like that.
Showcase the power of two vegetarian superfoods in these spinach and quinoa patties. Perfect for snacks, lunches or dinner!
There is something about hosting houseguests that makes me want to go junk-food crazy. I guess I like to use other people kicking around my kitchen as an excuse to whip out all the foods I wouldn’t normally eat. I like to live by the 80/20 rule of nutrition—80% of the time, you’re eating healthy, fresh foods and 20% of the time, you can eat non-nutritive junk food like this. And it seems like that 20% always happens to fall when I have friends and family in my home. I swear I eat healthy most of the time, friends. It just doesn’t look like I do when you come visit my house.
We hosted my husband’s parents this past week, and there was a lot of delicious food (junky and not-so-junky). So much so that I actually totally forgot to bring out this party mix that I made for snacking on. I had put it all in a big zip-top bag and stashed it behind a bunch of other food, and by the time I remembered it was there, my in-laws were already on their way back to Canada. C’est la vie. Honestly, I kinda think Craig isn’t too sad that we have a whole bag of this stuff to ourselves. He called it “incredibly dangerous” as he shoveled handfuls in his mouth.
The inspiration for this mix comes from my favorite movie theatre treat. I like to mix together buttered movie theatre popcorn with Reese’s Pieces while taking in a flick. It is the absolute best combination of sweet and salty! So to make this Halloween snack mix, I took that flavor profile to the next level—mixing together popcorn, Reese’s Pieces, salted peanuts, pretzels, and everyone’s favorite Fall candy—candy corn. And then I slathered it all in a peanut butter caramel coating, and then topped it with an orange candy drizzle and sprinkles—just in case you didn’t quite get the idea that this wasn’t health food (well, it’s healthy for your soul—but probably not your body).
When it comes to the texture of the final mix, you have a bit of a flexibility with this recipe. If you want it to be crunchy and crispy like standard caramel corn, you can cook the peanut butter caramel coating a bit longer to the hard crack stage (about 300°, but I don’t have a candy thermometer, so I just use the ole water glass trick). If you want it a bit fudgier, just cook it until the soft crack stage (about 280°). I like it this way because a lot of the elements are still crunchy—the peanuts, pretzels, Reese’s pieces—but the whole mix is a bit creamier. It’s a bit like a candy bark that way. Both ways work (although, I would say the hard crack would be best for putting in cute little baggies and distributing as gifts). Whatever bakes your cookie. Or caramels your corn.
I went with the standard Halloween candy add-ins, but as I was browsing the candy displays, I saw so many fun additions that would work. You could throw in candy eyes for a really spooky treat. Or even those candy pumpkins (those were always a little bit too much for my tastes). You could also drizzle on some different candy melts—black and green would be fun and festive, too!
I promise I’ll post something with some vegetables later on. Now that my houseguests have left, it’s time for me to get back to my normal, kale-heavy diet.
Enjoy! Happy Halloween!
This fun and festive peanut butter Halloween party mix will satisfy you sweet tooth!